The latest email about the Storytellers promises opportunities to meet athletes, celebrities, journalists…it just sounds so exciting and I can’t wait to get started.
With that in mind I spent a long time talking to Geoff Holt who was one of the speakers at the Winchester Writers’ Conference. He is an amazing man, a quadriplegic who has sailed single handed around the UK and is planning to sail alone around the world. Not only that he managed to write his life story so far, typing tens of thousand of words with the use of only one finger.
He is truly inspiring and as I am interested in paralympic sport, I decided to take advantage of the fates that had put him in my path and quiz him, especially about the ambitions to involve severely injured ex military personnel in Olympic endeavours. His remarks were eye opening as he pointed out that severe injury takes a lot of time to absorb in terms of adaptation to a new and different life and that decisions made too quickly often resulted in disappointment. Many people in that position, he explained, need to take time to adjust to home and family before moving on to such momentous decisions as aspiring to compete at the highest levels in their sport, with all the training and single mindedness that is required for such endeavours.
He agreed that ex forces individuals have the mental strength, the motivation, the toughness to excel but believed they needed to come to their own decisions about the best way forward, and if that turned out to be sport to an elite level, then that would be great. Geoff also agreed that sporting activity is a brilliant way to build confidence and self awareness. His main point though, was that can only happen when the individual is good and ready.
During our chat it emerged that he is an Olympic selector for the paralympic sailing squad – I swear I did not know beforehand – and that he would be pleased to help me contact those whose stories I can tell in my role as an Olympic Storyteller. What amazing luck.
The one odd thing I have encountered in all this involves the local newspaper. I decided it would be a good way to contact people local to me with an Olympic tale to tell if the local paper publicised my selection to the BT scheme. Among the stories of lost cats and smelly drains and failed planning applications, I imagined it might be a bit of a different thing for a local reporter to cover. It seems I was wrong. I cannot get them to talk to me for love or…anything else!
I have contacted them several times now and last time I actually managed to speak to the correct person rather than leave a message. I was told that their deadline was so close for this week that they couldn’t possibly talk to me there and then…and guess what…they would call me back. Surprise! They haven’t.
It may be that they are tapping my phone, in which case they will know all about my dog’s recent dental adventures, but whatever, I can’t call them again or I’m sure I will be reading in next week’s edition about the case of the stalker who is plaguing the reporter for the Chobham area!