A burst of spring sunshine met the hundreds of members of The British Polio Fellowship who descended on Leicester on Saturday 15 March for the 2014 Indoor Games, which are already being hailed as the best ever.
Last year unseasonal snow welcomed competitors, while this year they were met by sunshine, an international film crew and Team GB Paralympian heroine Anne Wafula Strike who kindly stayed all day; Anne sampled some of the games as well as presenting the medals to the winners at the evening’s gala dinner, enjoying it all so much she is planning to return next year – perhaps even as a competitor!
“I had a great time meeting all the people taking part and I was proud to be invited as the guest of honour,” said Anne Wafula Strike. “As a Paralympian I can identify with how important it is to have an opportunity to compete and the games are a perfect way of allowing people with Polio to do just that. I enjoyed having a go at the games and would love to come back for a play-off next year.”
The British Polio Fellowship represents 120,000 people living with the devastating effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) in the UK. While the Indoor Games have been held in Leicester for over 12 years, with Anne in attendance, this year’s games had that extra special buzz. Anne presented all bronze, silver and gold medals to the victors in nine different disciplines, including kurling; bowls; boccia; and darts. After all the formal medal presentations and photos, Anne posed for more informal photos and a chat with competitors.
“The Indoor Games just keep getting better and better and this year was no exception, with Anne’s involvement being the icing on the cake,” said Ted Hill, MBE, CEO of The British Polio Fellowship. “All those involved take the games very seriously, so to have a Paralympian of Anne’s star status and reputation involved was a real boost to everyone and we can’t thank Anne enough for taking part. The international film crew coming along was also a welcome surprise and will hopefully help to publicise the games and our efforts to combat Polio and PPS more generally.”
This year marks the 75th Anniversary of The British Polio Fellowship and while plans are well underway to mark the occasion with a series of events, it added to the celebratory atmosphere of the games and the desire to have someone of Anne’s stature involved in such a milestone year.
Leicester families with links to India and Pakistan will know all too well that Polio remains a problems worldwide, not to mention the 120,000 people with PPS and many more combating the late effects of Polio.
“Our anniversary is a chance to engage with people living with PPS who may both yet have sought our help and also with the Asian community to remind them we are here for them too,” added Ted. “Our help and advice is always just a call or a click away, so no one has to suffer in silence. Join us and this time next year, who knows, you could be competing for the medals on offer!”
Held at the Leicester Marriott Hotel, 200 people attended and 140 competitors took part in the games, having qualified from 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. 10 individual games were played: Kurling; Bowls; Darts (standing); Darts (sitting); Boccia; Draughts; Cribbage; Dominoes; 5s and 3s; and Scrabble, with medals up for grabs in all categories, as always, competition was extremely fierce.
For more details or information on The British Polio Fellowship, call us on 0800 043 1935, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.britishpolio.org.uk.