11 July 2017
Blesma Members' Weekend Report 2017
Members’ Weekend was back in June, bigger and better than ever before! This year attracted many first-timers, who all soon felt like they’d been coming for years.
Like much of what Blesma does, Members’ Weekend sees all kinds of positive transformations.
Sure, for first-time visitors, it can be a little nerveracking – spending a couple of days with people you’ve never met before, not quite sure how it all works, can feel difficult. But if there are any anxious thoughts on Saturday morning, they’re banished by... Saturday afternoon!
And by Monday everyone leaves with great memories and new friends, well aware of how Blesma can enhance their life.
Held from Saturday 10 to Monday 12 June at the Chesford Grange Hotel in Warwickshire, this year’s event was billed as being ‘the same as last year – but better’.
Several elements of the weekend stuck to a winning formula: there was a fantastic function and awards presentation on the Saturday evening, with a delicious meal and drinks enjoyed by all – the storytelling, bonhomie and camaraderie were in full flow.
A series of insightful talks were held on Sunday morning, showcasing just a few of the astonishing array of activities that Blesma Members have been up to over the last year: scuba, parachuting, motor racing, family glamping and mountaineering were all on the agenda.
Then, in the afternoon, there was time to try much-loved activities such as scuba diving, archery, clay shooting and photography.
Blesma’s cycling expeditions are growing ever more popular, but many Members still haven’t had the chance to try some of the bikes that are available for those with disabilities.
That changed in the hotel car park on Members’ Weekend as adapted bikes, recumbents, hand cycles and tandems were available to take for a spin around a short course.
They were met with great approval. “This is an excellent addition to the weekend,” says Chris Jones after doing a few laps.
"The friction often created a lot of sores for me, but I’ve found one here that I can use well without my prosthetic. I’ll try more cycling as a result.”
Blesma’s scuba diving expeditions remain a favourite among Members, and with good reason: the pastime offers trips to exotic locations, and the therapeutic, calming effects of drifting in clear seas have been well documented.
As Andy Jepson says; “everyone feels the same underwater” – and a dozen new recruits got to experience what he means in the hotel pool.
There was some hesitancy as Members got to grips with all the gear, but in the capable hands of one of the charity’s experienced instructors, Matt Goodwin, they were soon excitedly talking about that fantastic floating feeling – and pondering potential trips away."
"I’ve done multiple trips to Mexico and Thailand with my club, but the Blesma trips are really special. For an amputee, it’s great to get in the water and not be judged."
Blesma Awards 2017
The Blesma Awards were presented at the dinner on the Saturday evening. This year, the Hambro Award was picked up by Alex Krol on behalf of the Blesma Community Programme.
The Frankland Moore Trophy was won by Gloucestershire’s Welfare Rep Chris Jones for his dedication to Blesma since 2005.
Brian and Sheila Woodhouse were awarded the Cyril Stephens Award for their fundraising efforts.
The other award winners this year were Andy Grant who won the Jack Trigg Memorial Award, and Sue Wright who won the Earl of Ancaster Memorial Award. Congratulations to all the winners!
"This is my first Blesma Weekend and it’s just so nice for me as a partner of a Member to be able to meet people who are in the same boat as us."
Blesma Community Programme
The weekend’s attendees heard a series of uplifting life stories on the opening day.
Former bomb disposal operator Ken Bellringer and ex-Paratrooper Jordan Beecher gave electrifying accounts of their injuries and recovery as part of the Blesma Community Programme.
The pair, both injured by IEDs in Afghanistan, are part of a team of 27 Members who have received coaching on how to deliver their life stories and have used these techniques to inspire more than 5,000 youngsters across the UK.
“We’re all so different but we’ve got a shared background and common experience."