Active Ashford’s active role in the Paralympics
Great Britain will be entering its first ever sitting volleyball team in the 2012 Paralympics and its captain is Ashford’s very own Claire Harvey.
Claire, who lives in Godinton Park, is one of 21 athletes who have been named in the men’s and women’s sitting volleyball squads for the London Paralympics that run from 29th August to 9th September. She says the bursaries she has received from Active Ashford, which is co-ordinated by Ashford Borough Council, have been an essential part in her fantastic achievement.
The news comes as the 2012 Active Ashford bursary for talented disabled sportspeople is launched. The bursary is sponsored by the Ashford Designer Outlet Centre and aims to support and encourage the development of disability sport within local people aspiring to national standard.
Claire’s story is inspirational. Having been a sporty child, Claire had an accident in 2008 that changed her life. She was left paralysed in one leg, without peripheral vision and with the loss of other nerve functions.
Thanks to the physio team and surgical appliance team at the William Harvey Hospital, she learnt how to walk (although she has to use a calliper, or crutches or a wheelchair when tired) and began to look for a sport in which to participate.
That was when she discovered sitting volleyball, which is a version of volleyball that has been adapted to allow anyone to participate, including those with a disability. It has a smaller court and a lower net but the passage of play is quicker than normal volleyball and is an exciting spectator sport.
Claire plays for Kent Wyvern and has received bursaries through Active Ashford to help fund her participation in the sport.
The Active Ashford bursary was launched at the end of 2009 with funding from the Ashford Designer Outlet Centre and Ashford Borough Council’s Active Ashford sports partnership. The bursary makes a real difference to its recipients, meaning they can afford to travel to extra training sessions and access more coaching etc.
Claire said: “I am both honoured and excited to be asked to captain the GB women’s team into and at the Paralympics.
“The support I have received from Active Ashford and the Ashford Designer Outlet Centre has been invaluable in helping me maximise competition opportunities and training time, which has undoubtedly helped me get to this point.
“I look forward to getting everyone in Ashford excited about the Paralympics and hopefully cheering me on as the local girl! I also hope that my journey inspires local people, showing that if I can achieve a place at the Paralympics, with support and encouragement, anyone can achieve their dreams.”
To obtain an application form for the 2012 Active Ashford bursary please email Simon Harris, Ashford Borough Council’s Sports Projects Manager and Active Ashford Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01233 330232. The closing date for applications is 1st September 2012.
Simon said: “We are thrilled for Claire. What an achievement. Active Ashford is very proud to support sportspeople from the Ashford area in any way we can, and to know that it has been a factor in her attaining this amazing accolade is so rewarding. We wish the Paralympic GB team all the best for London in 2012”.