Firstly a Happy New Year to all readers. Into the 20's and a Paralympic year!
I had a really busy final quarter to round off the year. I had decided that I wanted to create a range of crafted gift items to be sold at Christmas Craft Fayres in aid of the Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity for whom I am an Ambassador.
Imagine Father Christmas’s Workshop and you will have a pretty good idea of what we looked like as my PA's and even my Grandparents all got involved in making and wrapping.
My Dad supported me in the second Fayre and had some really great ideas about visual merchandising which has inspired me to look at doing some more Fayres in the Spring and Summer. He also suggested that the school children and their parents would be inspired to buy from a Paralympian so I wore a bit of kit!
I juggled the Fayres with my usual training commitments and traditional run up to Christmas with chutney making.
With my bedroom mural completed by local artist Dean Rush I have started to add my own embellishment giving it my own stamp by putting on some more Disney and Harry Potter characters. It has been such a great project to be involved with. I have really enjoyed sourcing bedding, lights and soft furnishings and have definitely got the bug with my guest and PA room in my sights for decorating projects this year.
'Work hard, play hard' is definitely my motto so I have been thrilled to have had the opportunity to be involved with the design and install of a new chill out sensory space at home. I worked with Chloe at Sensory Guru who has delivered on taking the same equipment that you would find at Dame Vera Lynn’s Children’s Charity and putting an adult spin on it to create a gorgeous sanctuary. It’s my safe space to be alone and chill with lights, bubble tubes, mood lighting, gentle music and visuals but it is also a place to invite my mates, play Wii or snuggle for a film.
I am so grateful that everyone bought into the concept. Private space has been a virtual impossibility for me up to this point. PA's are always around me – eating, drinking, personal care – even a bath I am always monitored – even asleep there is a monitor. So, this private space that I can access alone, that I can shut the door on the world means everything to me.
With Fayres done, the mural in my bedroom complete and the Sensory Room down to snagging I was more than ready to let my hair down and party. I did just that at the Mamma Mia Party which was the best Birthday present from my Grandparents and Uncles and Auntie. It may have been a chilly December night at the O2 but inside were at a Greek taverna boogying as Dancing Queens. It was absolutely brilliant and if you get the chance to go, you must.
From Mamma Mia to Oh Mumma with a night out to see Magic Mike at the Hippodrome. The Show was fantastic but access was a nightmare with broken lifts and no ramps.
Christmas was really special this year with my paternal family coming to have a pre Christmas meal as close to the day as possible on the 23rd December. I was really pleased with a couple of new recipes an Aubergine Nut Roast and a Sprout Gratin. I followed this with a showstopper trifle and chocolate roulade. By early afternoon on Christmas Eve I finally shut the doors to the outside world and my parents and I enjoyed a couple of days with the finest steaks, seafood and cheeses – all my favourite things.
We celebrated New Year with friends and this was closely followed by my first photography exhibition which was held at a local microbrewery.
I am straight back into training but my work as an Ambassador continues. I was deeply honoured that my Parents and I were invited to the Royal Albert Hall to see a new portrait of Dame Vera Lynn unveiled in collaboration with the Royal Mint. A wonderful afternoon which was concluded in such style with Britain’s Got Talent winner Colin Thackery.
I have already got my eye on a couple of dates for Friday fun down at the charity and I have just booked the first Summer Fayre. Another of my favourite sayings is ‘Seize the Day’ or my version ‘You snooze you lose’ that early bird gets jobs done whether it is training, photography homework or booking your Summer Fayre to ensure you get the best pitch!