The Epping Forest Sportability Club was invited to take part in the Epping Town Show on Sunday 6 July 2014. The show coincided with a weekend of celebrations in Epping as the Tour de France passed through the town on the Monday (7 July) with the sprint being contested on the High Road.
The Town Show had many stalls and displays as well as a fun fair. There was a circus skills workshop as well as displays by the local rugby, netball and judo clubs. We were asked by the District Council to put on a demonstration for 30 minutes of some of the sports that we play. We were supposed to be on the tennis courts but on the day we found a better spot in the field with all the other stalls and displays. Unfortunately, it was not large enough to do Turbo Javelin but we were able to do a display of Boccia.
We managed to attract a fair number of visitors both young and old and possibly one or two potential new members. One of the stalls at the show was The Dream Factory which was set up “to brighten the lives and encourage hope for children and young adults who have either life limiting or life threatening conditions, or who suffer from severe disabilities”. They achieve their aim by making the children’s dreams come true.
Supporting the Dream Factory at the show was the actress Vicki Michelle from the 80’s TV show ‘Allo ‘Allo. It was great to meet their team and we found their charity truly inspiring. We ended up doing our demonstration for well over an hour as we were having such a good time. The weather turned out to be bright and sunny so we even got a bit of a tan. A great afternoon out for all those able to attend!
On Thursday 10 April 2014, Epping Forest Sportability Club spent the day at the Harlow Centre for Outdoor Learning.
In the morning we took part in a climbing session on the indoor climbing wall. A couple of our members are regulars at the climbing wall. One attends with his school and the other attends a regular climbing club. Therefore, they were the ones to demonstrate to the rest of the group how to do it, including all the safety aspects, under the supervision of the centre’s instructors.
We then took turns on the wall trying to get to the top. To say it is a lot harder than it looks is an understatement! As the session went on, the climbs became progressively more difficult with the best climbers attempting an overhang. Check out the pictures to get an idea of how hard and how high the walls were.
Once the climbing session was complete we recovered in the sun while we had our lunch. After lunch it was time for dragon boat racing. The group was split in two as the centre had created two boats out of four canoes with each boat being two canoes tethered together.
With our instructors guiding us, we made our way down the river until we reached a lock and could go no further. We had a rest and played a game or two whilst in the boats which was a lot of fun. We then made our way back and with the good weather it made for a really enjoyable journey.
Overall the day was a great success and a good time was had by all those attending. A big thank you to all the staff at the Essex Outdoors Centre for looking after us so well.
With the help of a very generous grant from the Grange Farm Trust, the Epping Forest Sportability Club were able to take a number of members away for an activity weekend at the Queen Elizabeth 2 Activity Centre, near Southampton, at the start of the summer holidays.
We left Oak View School on Friday lunchtime in a mini-bus, kindly lent to us for the weekend by Oak View. Despite some terrible traffic, our Head Coach and driver Alan got us safely to the QE2 Activity Centre so that we had time to settle in and have an evening meal.
Between us, we shared three cabins. Alan was in charge of the main cabin hosting the older boys as well as Pete and Ashley. Candee was in charge of the “ladies” cabin and Andy was in charge of the cabin with the younger boys in it. A heavily-pregnant Candee was Head Chef for the weekend and provided wonderful meals each day.
The main purpose of the weekend was to take part in some activities that are not normally available to us. These activities were led by the centre’s own staff, Kim and Graham, who looked after us all weekend.
One of the first activities we did was a team building exercise. We split into two teams and played a few games to help build up our team work. It culminated in the teams building a go-kart each and then having some races. As usual with Alan, it got a little bit competitive but everyone had lots of fun and learnt to tie some knots along the way. By the end of the races the go-karts almost fell apart on their own.
After a break for refreshments, it was onto the next activity which was Forest Craft. We were taught how to cut wood properly and then build a fire safely using just a flint (no lighters or matches!). Once we had a roaring camp fire going, we were able to toast some marshmallows whilst also being taught how to use a branding iron to carve our initials in the wood that we had cut earlier.
After lunch, it was down to the river for kayaking. It was a lovely day and a beautiful setting to be on the river. One half of the group went on a boat ride while the other half paired off and got into the kayaks. After much splashing between boats, we did manage to paddle quite a way up the river! We then swapped around so that the kayakers went on the boat and those that had been on the boat had a chance to learn to kayak.
In the evening we used the centre’s kitchen and dining area for our dinner and some of the children played indoor bowls while others relaxed and chatted.
On Sunday, after breakfast, it was the low ropes and the zip wire. Again we split into two teams to tackle each activity. The low ropes we did as a team going around the course, including some tunnels; the zip wire, we took in turns with everyone having a couple of runs. There were also a couple of games to play that tested both team work and problem solving such as getting a ball around a hanging wooden maze by tilting it between the team members.
Our last activities before we left for home were in the centre doing archery and the climbing wall. The climbing wall got progressively harder with each climb but everyone had a go and did really well. The archery started with instruction but ended with a competition to see who could get the highest score. This included not only a standard target but also a hanging target that was swaying as you tried to hit it. I think that by the end of the session Robin Hood had some new recruits!
Overall the weekend was a fantastic experience for all involved. The facilities and staff at the QE2 Activity Centre were marvellous and everyone had a really great time.
Visit the QE2 Activity Centre website.
After the London Olympics and Paralympics were over, we arranged a visit of the Olympic torch to the Epping Forest Sportability Club.
A member of the sports team at Essex County Council came to speak to the children and explain to them about the Olympic ideals and what they stood for. He brought with him one of the Olympic torches used in the relay.
In addition he had one of the four lanterns used at the beginning of the Paralympic relay - the one brought down from the top of Mount Snowden.
Finally, we also had the Paralympic torch belonging to Anne Strike, a local Paralympian, who had taken part in the torch relay. She spoke to and inspired the children and brought with her a whole bunch of medals that she had won throughout her career.
This may have been one of the only times that an Olympic Torch, a Paralympic torch and a Paralympic Lantern were in the same place at the same time – a real treat!
The children enjoyed the visit enormously and learnt a lot from the presentation shown to them. But the main fun was had posing for photographs with all the torches and medals.
The Epping Forest Sportability Club was fortunate enough to get a number of tickets to one of the Paralympic Open Days at the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands.
We all met and travelled to the centre by train (tube and DLR) and had the chance to soak up the atmosphere of the Paralympics.
We managed to see three Paralympic sports throughout the day. First we saw the Table Tennis, where athletes from many nations and with various disabilities were competing against each other. The standard of play was outstanding!
Next up was wheelchair fencing where the athletes have their wheelchairs bolted into position on the podium and then have to “fight” each other. We naturally cheered on the Great Britain team but unfortunately they did not win.
The last sport we saw was Boccia and it was packed but we were lucky enough to get really good seats that were normally reserved for the competitors' families. Again the standard of play was phenomenal. In the final that we saw, the competitors were able to throw the ball into a gap between their competitors and the jack that was no bigger than the ball itself.
It was a long day but hopefully one that all the children will remember all their lives. They will be able to say that when the Paralympics came to London, they were there!
This was our second summer weekend away following a trip to Brecon in Wales in 2009.
This time we tried our hand at windsurfing, sailing and bush craft, as well as archery and climbing.
The centre provided fabulous food and Christian had seconds, thirds and fourths but still stayed as skinny as ever!
Windsurfing without any wind provided a challenge but was great fun. Candee was undoubtedly the master!
Sailing in small dinghies was also challenging, especially for Alan, as Big James kept losing his concentration and steering them the wrong way!
The weekend was such a success that the club returned a year later, with some of the other members, to experience the fun.
Visit the Grafham Water Centre website.
Epping Forest Sportability Club is a multi-sports club for young people with mild to moderate physical and learning difficulties.