York’s Catherine Mitton will be flying the flag for Yorkshire and going for gold in Leicester, when she competes in the British Polio Fellowship National Indoor Games at the Leicester Marriott Hotel (22-24 March). Representing Yorkshire at Kurling, Cathy will take her place in the Yorkshire squad, competing with around 140 members of The British Polio Fellowship who have made it through to the finals in a range of disciplines from around the regions.Having been desperately unlucky to contract Polio at the age of two, Catherine has overcome everything life could throw at her and mobility issues have not stopped Cathy playing her full part in the Kurling competition and as usual, she is hoping to do well.
Anyone in Yorkshire who may have been affected by the impact of Polio or PPS, either individually or indirectly through friends and family can call The British Polio Fellowship on 0800 043 1935.
Catherine is hugely supportive of the work of the British Polio Fellowship, having been involved in the charity most of her life and is a member of the Leeds branch. Cathy’s approach to the games is typical of the good feeling and camaraderie they always produce.
“The Kurling has been adapted to allow wheelchair users like myself to take part and this is one of the great things about the games, in that no matter what your disability, it gives everyone the opportunity to take part,” explained Catherine. “I am not a professional at Kurling and I have taken part in other games over the years, but I am really looking forward to this years’ events.”
“The games reflect the ethos of the British Polio Fellowship in the sense that there is no age limit and disability is not a bar, so anyone can take part and people have a real chance to be really competitive if they wish to be,” explained Catherine. “There can be a lot of technique and tactics in Kurling and while some do take it extremely seriously, I am very happy just taking part.”
Having qualified from their regional heats in one of the 9 regions of the country, comprising East Midlands; Scotland; Home Counties; North of England; North West; South of England; Wales; Western; and Yorkshire, participants will compete for a range of medals. 10 individual games will be played: Kurling; Bowls; Darts (standing); Darts (sitting); Boccia; Draughts; Cribbage; Dominoes; 5s and 3s; and Scrabble, with medals up for grabs in all categories and the competition extremely fierce.
In attendance and lending his support to the participants at Leicester will be paralympian and London 2012 silver medal winner James Crisp, a keen ambassador for The British Polio Fellowship. Having contracted Polio as a baby from vaccine damage, this led to James eventually losing the use of his left leg. Having experienced this muscle wastage from such an early age James has always managed his lifestyle around his disability and hasn’t let it hold him back from achieving his dreams.James Crisp said: “Contracting Polio was obviously a traumatic experience for my parents but one which I was luckily too young to really understand at the time. However, it has made me the person I am today and it’s the reason I am part of the British Paralympics Squad.
“I am a keen supporter of The British Polio Fellowship; working to raise money for the charity through my sponsors and supporters, in order to help others like me achieve their dreams and make the most of their abilities, not focus on their disabilities. The Indoor Games is a unique opportunity for those with Polio and PPSto come together for the weekend from all over the country, keep the Olympic and Paralympic spirit alive and try and fulfil their dreams of achievement.”
Ted Hill, Chief Executive of the British Polio Fellowship, said: “It must be remembered that many of our members who have made it through to the national finals were strong competitors in many sports when they were younger, many having represented their region and country in the original British Polio Games which included track and field and swimming.
“Polio and PPS combined with older age means that most of our members can no longer compete in the more athletic sports and games, so the Indoor Games was born as a way of ensuring our members still had a national forum in which to compete and socialise.”
Whilst the level of competition is still incredibly intense and people are clearly ‘playing to win’, equally as important to those with Polio and PPS is the opportunity to catch up with old friends, swop notes about latest treatments and share experiences found to help with day to day living.