Sportability and NRCP

shadow63The charity that David and I are involved in is Sportability.

The purpose of Sportability is to provide sport and adventurous activities for people with all forms of paralysis. The credo of the charity is, “Taking the ‘dis’ out of disability” but the underlying aim is to leave participants with a new mindset and the powerful thought: “If I can do this, what else can I achieve?”.

David was one of the founding forces of the charity and was the Chairman until 2002, and is now the charity’s Chief Executive. In 2008 the charity enjoyed its most successful year, organising more events and reaching more paralysed people in more places around the UK than ever before.

shadow61When you hear David talking with passionate enthusiasm about the touching experience of seeing a huge, rugged, mountain of a man almost brought to tears watching and supporting a young man with paralysis overcoming his difficulties to ride a quad bike around a track, you get a feel for the sheer intangible wonderfulness of the benefit that Sportability’s activities offer.

In 2002, Sportability extended its remit from solely Spinal Cord Injury to cover all forms of paralsis; SCI, Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, and others.

When these, and many other conditions of neurological impairment occur, the brain can no longer transmit messages to the rest of the body. The result is paralysis, loss of feeling and loss of control of bodily functions. Young old male female – no one is immune. And there is no cure.

“Now imagine you could leave the wheelchair (and that condition) behind … Beneath the water discover the sublime world of scuba diving. And above, up in the wild blue yonder, fly a glider, a balloon or a light aircraft.” – David Heard

But the list of loss can be far greater. The casualties are confidence, self-esteem, drive, ambition, privacy, sexuality, independence, relationships. With paralysis a certain way of life dies. There is no apprenticeship it can happen in an instant and engulfs the paralysed person, their family and friends forever.

Now imagine you could leave the wheelchair (and that condition) behind and go quad biking, hand-cycling. Try archery, falconry, martial arts, pistol and rifle shooting, tennis, land-yachting and from the bank or shore – fishing. Offshore go sailing, jet skiing, water skiing and canoeing. Beneath the water discover the sublime world of scuba diving. And above, up in the wild blue yonder, fly a glider, a balloon or a light aircraft.

That’s something to get up each day for.

“Absolutely Fantastic ! Jetskiing at 70 kph across that lake – at the grand old age of 55. I felt ‘normal’, younger and back in control of my life.” Janette, Cheltenham

Of course it is about having fun and trying something different. But the underlying aim is to help re-build confidence, regain self-esteem and re-kindle hope and ambition, which will carry through to day-to-day living with M.S. stroke, spinal cord injury etc.

shadow62It is not about creating elite sports men and women, but it is about helping people re-define their horizons, to perhaps come back saying “I didn’t think I could do that!”

To support this activity the charity issues many news and features announcements to its several hundred subscribers through its online email messages facility. In this way it is able to keep in touch closely with those interested in its activities and provide other information about resources available generally.

Sportability continues to go from strength to strength, and is in the process of initiating new bases in each of the UK’s regions. Since expanding from activities based in the South West it has launched regions in East Anglia, London and the South East, Surrey, the Midlands, the North West (Liverpool/Manchester corridor) and Kent, with plans for others in the coming year.

To visit the Sportability website go to – where you can also listen to an audio clip taken from the close of our ‘Strength for Life’ audio CD, the track in which David talks about the credo and ethos behind Sportability, and its plans for the future.

The National Rehabilitation Centre for the Paralysed

shadow41At the NRCP, David put together a team of highly qualified exercise therapists (mainly from a sports science background) and for ten years provided perhaps Europe’s foremost regime for an innovative approach to rehabilitation for people with Spinal Cord Injury, and many other forms of paralysis. This pioneering work was an amalgam of the best working practises gleaned from the UK, Europe and America. It was an approach which took on board the psychological as well as the physiological condition. The core of the practise came from the regimes devised by Valentin Dikoul in Moscow.

“If you can help someone to regain the pinch grip, you change their life. Why? Because maybe they don’t have to suffer the indignity of being taken to the toilet. Maybe they can feed themselves again. Maybe they can self-catheterise.” – David Heard.

I had the privilege to work at the NRCP in an administrative capacity and to see first hand the unique approach and the attitude of belief that it instilled in all who went there. Whilst the NRCP is no longer an active establishment, having provided a decade of the highest quality rehabilitative care, the legacy is one of a genuine cause for hope and optimism, and of tremendously vital insights and experience for use by many who benefited from their time at the centre.

Related Links:-

  • Blogs
  • SfL Website (Re-) Launched
  • July 29, 2009
  • Having spent three years developing the Strength for Life offering, David and I are now delighted to be offering this particular project through the collective effort of the Whole Life Whole World Integral Wisdom Movement.

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