Thursday, 6 September 2012
I was selected as a Paralympic Torchbearer after being nominated through Lloyds TSB public campaign for my work on Disability Rights UK Leadership programme. It was a great surprise and privilege to be one of the chosen few to carry the torch.
I was one of a team of five selected from Disability Rights UK, including two of Disability Rights UK Leadership graduates, Beverly Smith and Kush Kanodia; as well as leadership colleague and previous leadership graduate Abdi Gas and Development Director, Sue Bott. Each individual was nominated for their brilliant individual achievements and their work with disabled people.
On the day it was great to be with a team that knew each other and had achieved so much both individually and together. We assembled along with five other teams at Surrey Docks Water Sports Centre in Lewisham. The atmosphere was buzzing with a great deal of excitement and anticipation. While we were there we were introduced to the Mayor of Southwark and MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Simon Hughes. They were enthusiastic about the Paralympic relay coming to Lewisham and fascinated by the achievements of the Disability Rights UK team.
The relay ran an hour behind schedule and we were all raring to go by the time we boarded the bus for the drop off point. The atmosphere on the bus was fantastic, with a lot of cheering from both inside the bus and the crowds lining the route. A police escort led the way and a helicopter hovered overhead.
When we were eventually dropped off the crowds were there to cheer our arrival as our names were announced over a speaker system. It was a real carnival atmosphere with flags and streamers being waved all around.
We gathered for a team photo before the first torch was lit and then we were on our way.
What an experience! We took it in turns to carry the flame, exchanging the flame as we each took lead of the group. When my turn came, I felt so proud as I raised the Paralympic flame above my head and strode through Lewisham to the cheers of the crowd. Everyone was so friendly and supportive that I cannot thank the locals of Lewisham enough for their support of the flame and the Paralympics. It felt surreal to be walking with the Paralympic flame, a part of history, with so many people waving flags and cheering us on. I can safely say that I have never felt so proud and honoured.
Great Britain has for the first time made the Paralympics an equal to the Olympics. The planning and spectacle of the Torch relay heralds the start of an exciting and spectacular Paralympic games. Disability Rights UK strives to bring Equality for disabled people. The Paralympics demonstrates the ability, strength and determination of disabled people. Through Disability Rights UK's leadership programme I have long known about this ability, a talent pool so often remaining untapped. Let's hope the Paralympics heralds a new era of equality and recognition of disabled people's ability. It was a day I will never forget; a life changing experience that will help me with my own Bipolar mental health condition, instilling within me the self confidence and belief that anything is possible!
David Stocks - Leadership and Development Manager
Disability Rights UK
Posted by radar at 12:09