Inspirational People

Inspirational People 2018-06-07T12:39:38+00:00

Inspirational People

This category celebrates those who have battled against difficult circumstances to achieve beyond expectations and have inspirational stories to tell .

Becky Mitchell

Personal Trainer, Fitness Motivator

Becky has been an inspiration to all of her classes and our running community at Run4Life. 2017 was a tough year for her with the sudden passing of her Mum but through her own personal difficulty she has been a support to everyone she works with.

As a qualified PT (which she gained during a tough 2017) she offers expert training for fitness, running and general well being. She offers an affordable class to help a Bristol wide running community improve their running technique and ability. She has taken non runners up to marathon distances and she has taken 8 minutes off my park run time in just 8 months. Her classes are well organised, fun and full of positive motivation. With a weekly class you can be sure to find the same 20 faces turning up each week at every class, so much so that she started a second class and now has another 20 dedicated runners.

On a personal level Becky is the first person to cheer you on, to reply to your message on Facebook and offer encouragement. She has all the time for every question whether it be about stretches and injury, food and diet or simply improving your running. We only pay her £3 a week for her class but she regularly sends out personal plans, extra advice and time on Facebook to help us reach our goals and at no extra cost

I can speak for everyone in her group to say that she practices what she preaches and shares her own experiences with us. Knowing your instructor and friend has the same problems, struggles and pushes hard is inspiring in its self.

Having been a non runner 18 months ago and only barely a runner when i met Becky 9 months ago i cannot personally express my gratitude for all she has done. Becky has helped me in my weight loss goals, my fitness goals and more importantly my confidence.

Everyone that attends her class leaves feeling exhausted but incredible. If i could give everyone a weekly hour dose of Becky i would prescribe it on the NHS.

Becky was our run fit leader but she became our friend because she truly cares about us and our journey. She is selfless in her time to ensure that we are moving forward.

Becky embodies what running is about hard work dedication and self worth.

Courtney Woodman

Boxer

“I am the owner of Impact Gym in Bristol and a few times a year we run a Boxing programme for complete beginners. At the end of the training programme they get to showcase their new found skills against an equally matched opponent in front of a local crowd across 3 x 2 minute rounds.

Courtney is 15 years of age and experienced an extremely bad case of bullying in her secondary school, to the point where she was removed from school as the severity was having serious implications; she also suffers from panic attacks and has very bad asthma. This aside she wanted to take the challenge on to prove she can face her demons. Not only did she complete the 8 weeks she had an exhibition fight with another female on the programme and performed exceptionally well. We think this should be recognized and for her to be congratulated for her show of maturity, determination and the fact that she overcome a horrible situation and is a great role model for other young girls out there.”

Craig Carscadden MBE

Cerebral Palsy Paralympic Athlete and 20 years of volunteering in Disability Sport helping to promote sport and provide opportunities at the highest level.

I came to running relatively late, as part of the 1980’s running boom and eventually competing in the 5000m in the Paralympics in Atlanta in 1996. My disability is cerebral palsy.

My disability voluntary work started in 1998 with Cerebral Palsy Sport England (CP Sport). I was a trustee, and was involved with the negotiations when CP Sport became independent from Scope.

During my nine years working with CP Sport I ran the Athletics Programme, and also the Grand Prix Series Athletic Competitions.

I also work as a volunteer for Cerebral Palsy International Sport sand Recreation Association, and am head of Education & Development for this charity, which helps people with cerebral palsy to access sport. My greatest achievement to date has been the work that I have done to promote RaceRunning. This track event allows athletes with high support needs to ambulate supported within a three-wheeled frame. I have led a team that has developed a classification system and rules & regulations for this event. I am happy to say that World Para-Athletics are now considering accepting RaceRunning as a world competition event.

For eight years I was treasurer of the European Paralympic Committee, this is another voluntary role. This involved overseeing an EU grant of eight thousand euros, which was used to run the first European Para Youth Games in 2012

I trained to be an athletics classifier at National and International level, and sit on the UK Athletics Advisory Panel.

My passion is to promote disability sport, and firmly believe that it is important to ‘give something back,’ which I have enjoyed doing through my various voluntary roles. My advice to anyone thinking of volunteering would be to go ahead and give it a go, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have!

Daniel Edozie

Professional Basketball player, Commonwealth Games competitor, community coach and mentor

Originally born in London, Dan and his mother left England and moved to the United States of America in search of a better life in 2004. However, through his early childhood Dan had experienced hardships and circumstances that challenged him to make decisions.

Dan has an incredible story that includes overcoming adversity and from where he first started. From being homeless in the streets of Skid Row Los Angeles, going through the foster care system to graduating from University to Bristol and representing England in the Commonwealth games, he chooses to display positive character and be a role model in the community of Bristol.

In September 2015, Daniel was offered a playing contract with the Bristol Flyers and travelled to Bristol to begin his new career as a professional Basketball player. Whilst in Bristol, he reunited with his mother who had relocated back to London and met new siblings for the first time who were based in Bristol and Bath. With the guidance and support of Coach Andreas Kapoulas and with the care of the Flyers family, Dan has flourished and is currently enjoying his third consecutive season with the Bristol Flyers.

Ella Gibson

GB representative and Medal Winner at the World Transplant Games

“I would like to nominate my sister, Ella Gibson. At age 3, she was diagnosed with E.coli and growing up had significantly reduced kidney function that stopped her eating certain foods, required regular trips to hospital and left her feeling constantly tired. At 18, her kidney function was so low, she needed a transplant. Our mother was the donor and although the operation was tough, the transplant changed Ella’s life.

With a new kidney, Ella became much more active and in 2016 she entered the British Transplant Games in Liverpool. Understandably, with little experience in competitive sports, she was nervous before the Games. However, undeterred, she threw herself into training despite the miserable West Country winter. Her hard work paid off and representing Team Bristol, she won 3 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal.  After performing so well, Ella was asked to represent Team GB and Northern Ireland at the 2017 World Transplant Games in Malaga. Once again, her committment and positive attitude paid off and this time she won 4 bronze, 1 silver and most incredibly of all, 1 gold medal in the Triathlon. After performing so well, Ella was asked to represent Team GB at the World Transplant Games in Malaga.  Not only is she my sister, she is also an inspiration and I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving.”

Emma Klijn

Horse Riding Competitor, Physiotherapist and multi-sport competitor who balances living with Type 1 Diabetes

When I was 13 I was helping mum with her dressage outing for the riding club and I started to complain of being very very thirsty.  My eyes were blurry and I had to keep going for a wee.  The next day mum took I was diagnosed with a life changing condition: Type 1 Diabetes.  No one else in my family has or had it so I was just very unlucky.  The adjustment was traumatic.  Painful finger prick tests every hour and then injecting myself in the stomach.  I had to grow up quick… and I did!

I was really into my Tetrathlon (Shooting, swimming, running and riding) and I wanted to keep this going.  It was really hard.  I kept getting cramp in the swim phase and would often have to be fished out, but I wouldn’t give up even after the diabetes doctor said, “maybe you shouldn’t do it”!  Mum and I figured out that the doctors had me drinking a bottle of Lucozade before sport… my sugars would soar to 25 mmol/L (normal range 4-6 mmol/L) so I’d cramp up.  We found another way to make sure I would not go hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) and so my sporty lifestyle continued.  I ran Cross Country for Welsh Schools, qualified for the National Tetrathlon Championships and qualified for the Pony Club National Dressage Championships a couple of times.  My blood sugar control was not great throughout my teens but I kept trying and kept active.

I went to University in Cardiff (BSc Hons Science in Health Exercise and sport) followed by Bristol (BSc Hons Physiotherapy).  It was during my first year at Bristol that my parents separated, I was estranged from my father and my mum decided to move to Greece.  I lost everything, my home, my horse, most of my belongings.

I continued in Bristol lodging with a lady who allowed me to keep my cat; without a horse I took up pistol shooting.  Before I knew it I was shooting for Wales and heading off round Europe to various competitions.  The University were amazing at supporting me and I became a valued member of their Advanced Athlete Group, winning Advanced Athlete of the Year 2008. This award was not just about the sporting achievements, but it was about who promoted the university and reported regularly on training progress and competitions.  During this time, I was also diagnosed with Ceoliacs Disease, meaning I had to exclude wheat and gluten from my diet.  As a diabetic this makes eating slow release carbohydrate impossible!  I fought on.

Following a disappointing drop from the Welsh team for the Commonwealth Games (New Delhi 2010) due to my lack of funds I gave up shooting and turned to Triathlon.  This did not agree with my Diabetes – exercising with high sugars were causing alot of damage to my body without me knowing! My blood sugars were all over the place.  I was a fully-fledged physio by this time and had done three years in the NHS and made a leap into private practice.  My connections to triathlon did me very well in building my reputation and I soon felt confident in setting up my own clinic, and I did with one other physio.

Almost simultaneously, I fought for 8 months with the local diabetes team to allow me to have an insulin pump. I had a three-month diary of everything that I ate and drank, every activity and blood glucose reading to prove I was serious about getting an insulin pump.  They worry that some believe an insulin pump will do everything for them and will stop looking after themselves, which can be fatal.  Eventually, I was granted one and my average blood glucose went from 10.1 to 7.8 in just three months.  BUT I was too late.  I woke one September morning with a big black blob in my right eye.  A blood vessel had burst in the eye.  This was the start of three years of fortnightly trips to the Eye Hospital to prevent me going blind not only on my right eye but also my left.  I had to stop exercising to avoid further damage to my eyes from the higher blood pressure. This was quite depressing.

In 2014 I needed to find a way back to horses so I asked around and managed to find something to ride a few times a week.  Later that year I was informed that I was likely to go blind in 5 years.  I decided that life is short and bought myself a horse – nine years since mum left.

Milly was the best buy I had ever made, she is bred to event. She has become my best friend.  With further news of my eyes needing invasive surgery I found a way to buy myself some transport so that Milly and I could start competing. Just two months later my right eye was operated on.  The jelly was removed, the membrane on my retina was scraped off and the outer rim of my retina was lasered (this is a form of amputation).  Following 6 weeks of rest (and no riding) the operation was deemed successful.  I had lost some peripheral vision, especially above and below.  I could now start riding again, but we only managed three months before my left eye had to have the same operation.

My eyes were settling nicely, and I was adjusting to the light sensitivity and loss of peripheral vision.  My night vision was appalling though!

I finally got engaged to my wonderful boyfriend of 6 years who has been there for me through thick and thin; I’m lucky to have him.  Wedding planning began along with planning my eventing season for 2017!  2017 arrived and we went straight in at BE100 and managed 6 runs before the wedding in July. Our wedding was perfect!

During the last five years of all of these ups and downs Bristol Physio has gone from strength to strength and we have many new members in our team, including a new partner. We provide sports pitch side cover for both Bristol Grammar School and QEH and see a variety of conditions in people from all walks of life at our clinics. We have expanded our clinics to two other locations with more exciting plans for the future.

Gina Hopkins

Advocate of the benefits of sports to disabled people. Founder and CEO of Adaptive Martial Arts. Competitor in Martial Arts

I was never expected to excel, participate or coach sports and exercise. I was the kid who lived in the park, swimming pool,  up trees and loved PE in school, all the things the ‘system’ didn’t want me to do. I wanted to play! That’s how I got interested in sports and fitness.

Having used sport as a coping mechanism, rehabilitation and as a means of socialising at every hurdle of my life, I want to educate and give people who don’t feel they can, the opportunity, support and the means to experience the joys of sport and exercise, without fear.

Advocating the benefits of the right sports to other disabled people is my life’s mission.  Competing as well as having a Masters Degree in Sports and Exercise Science, I wants to show other disabled people that you can do exciting and ‘tough’ sports.

I have excelled at some sports, fought for inclusion in some,  had to give up some sports due to my health and there are those sports which I just can’t master!  The constant remains that there is always another sport to try, there is always another way to access the health benefits, always another way.

Gina has Dystonia, a neuromuscular condition which causes constant and uncontrollable muscle spasms. Gina is the CEO of Adaptive Martial Arts CIC

Jodi Dowse

Personal Trainer, Fitness Motivator

Jodi suffered from post natal depression but found that physical activity helped her. She has since trained as a personal trainer and fitness instructor and set up group fitness classes in Lawrence Weston and is motivating women in her community to be healthier and fitter through Straight Up Fitness.

Kim Ingleby

Mind and Body Coach

Kim founded her company, Energised Performance in 2004 and since then has helped 1000s of people to get active, be healthy and well in mind and body to live their life fully. Her clients are all inclusive from 12 years to 68 years around the World, from Team GB athletes, Strictly Come Dancing to Bristol Entrepreneurs, Adventurers and Body Confidence.  I have been a client since 2006! She supports them blending mind and body coaching, to achieve their dreams, ranging from overcoming chronic burnout and anxiety, to improved health and wellness, completing charity 5k events to ultra-marathons around the World. She is a global trainer and has won numerous national and international awards. Kim is an ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food revolution. She is a prolific fundraiser, organising charity community events, and so far completing 10 marathons around the World with volunteering work, raising over £82k so far.  Many of the Charities she raises money for have local connections and meaning for her clients, including St Peter’s Hospice, Access Sport & Above and Beyond.

In 2013, she contracted Weil’s disease through competing in a warm up triathlon before the European Triathlon Championships, which completely changed her life. Kim manages the neurological effects of this on a daily basis. Fully practising what she teaches, with her own Mind & Body tools, DNAFit results and more. She continues to run workshops, has written a best selling book (with the profits going to the Encephalitis Society) and spoke at TEDx Bristol.  Her openess and ability to manage her conditions, helps other people believe they can still make a positive change in their life, despite challenging times. I find Kim is hugely inspiring and genuine, caring and extremely knowledgeable –  an example of showing people what is possible and equipping us with the techniques and tools to do this. She is outstanding, supportive and unique in her field, making a true difference.

Paul Brown

Paralympic Bowler representing  England at the Commonwealth Games 2014 & 2018 and Chairman of Disability Bowls England

Paul Brown enjoyed playing the sport of Bowls when he was struck by an illness which resulted in the loss of one leg. He continued to Bowl initially using a special Bowls wheelchair before converting to Bowling in a standing position using his prosthetic leg. His playing ability was recognised by Bowls England and he was selected to play in the England Paralympic Bowls teams at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where his team won a Bronze medal and more recently at the Gold Coast where his team came fourth.

He recently gave up his career in the accountancy profession to focus on encouraging disabled people to participate in the sport of Bowls. He is now Chairman of Disability Bowls England and pioneered the movement to encourage Bowls clubs across the country to secure Bowls Disability Kitemark status, so encouraging clubs to provide the facilities to enable disabled people to participate in the sport of Bowls. He is married with a child and through his playing ability, enthusiasm and commitment is driving the initiative to increase disabled people’s participation in the sport of Bowls. He was Finance Director at the City and County of Bristol Indoor Bowls Club from 2005 to 2010 and is an active player at that club

Phillip Steadman

Zumba/ Aquazumba/ Dance Instructor

Phillip teaches with a smile on his face even when he is in pain due to his arthritis condition, he was told he could end up in a wheelchair but has proved the doctors wrong. Even when he slipped at the poolside he carried on the routine, we found out later that he had snapped a ligament in his leg.  He makes the class funny and enjoyable and you don’t realise how hard you have actually worked.  His classes are always full!  He is just wonderful as an instructor and very inspirational.