When a fortuitous email from LimbPower arrived in my mailbox inviting members to join an adventure weekend at the Calvert Trust Centre in Exmoor, I thought why not. Little did I realise this was a timely tonic that I needed to add the zing to my faltering mental, emotional and physical well-being after my challenging experience of COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions.
The appeal for outdoor activities with fresh air, clear skies, surrounded by countryside was just the panacea I needed to curb my blues. I once read and scribbled a quote in my little notebook from thebestbrainpossible.com which identified the six best remedies for anything as being (sunshine, exercise, water, sleep and air). I now realise this is true and these six elements resonated with me and lived to be a testament of the magical healing powers to the mind, body and soul.
My happiness started after a hearty breakfast. I was feeling a little nervous and excited about the outdoor activities, reality sunk in that I had never done these types of activities, even before my bilateral knee amputations. A little voice inside my head was cheering me on to seize the moment, suddenly I had the urge and was raring to go.
Archery: First of all, Libby, our instructor, explained the rules, health & safety and taught us how to aim and shoot the arrow. This seemed technical, but I was surprised at how easy it is to aim but miss the target at the same time. However, I improved after a few practice sessions, wink!
Abseiling: The descent manoeuvre was much smoother than I had feared it to be. My focus was not on what would go wrong while descending from a height but on a safe touch down. I held onto the specialist harness with all my might and just trusted that my feet would do the right thing for me. It was much easier than I had anticipated. I was so relieved to reach the bottom which, felt like the ground was shaking - literally! But, this was because my legs were trembling involuntarily for a few minutes before I felt steady on my feet.
Rock Climbing: I found this activity challenging and nerve-wracking and my trainers were slipping off my prosthetic legs. The Holy Grail was to attempt to ring the bell at the top. I was so proud to achieve this and felt the adrenalin rush of a champion. What taught me here is that every mountain is within reach if you keep climbing with self-belief.
Zip wire: I held tight to the ropes in front of my chest boy, I hugged and gripped the harness like nobody’s business. The truth is, I was nervous. I decided to trust both and hold the bull firmly by its horns when suddenly I was cut loose - for a few seconds, I felt like a superhero soaring through the sky with adrenaline pumping. What a thrilling experience!
Canoeing: The night before, I remembered watching Sir Steven Redgrave CBE DL and his team on TV rowing for Gold in 2000. I do not know why this came into my mind. Once in the canoe and on the water on the beautiful reservoir, we paddled gently. The water was still the weather was pleasant with an abundance of nature surrounding us. We set off slowly, nothing to the intensity of Sir Redgrave and his team! It felt so serene sitting and taking in the beauty around us. The icing on the cake was having a hot drink in the middle of the lake - I couldn't have dreamt a more serene moment which was unforgettable.
The highlights for me were not only the fantastic atmosphere at the centre but the new friends I have made. There is a mix of people of all ages and abilities with unique stories, who all inspired me in one way with encouragement, motivation of living with a disability and enjoying all that life has to offer.
This trip allowed me to escape the hustle and bustle of busy city life with a positive impact on my physical and mental well-being. I left feeling ten years younger, braver and rejuvenated with a renewed spirit of adventure. I can't wait to go back next year.
by Charles Banda, LimbPowers Guest Feature Writer and Academy for Disabled Journalists Student
Article originally published in LimbPowers latest Newsletter
For more information:
LimbPower Charity https://www.limbpower.com
Calvert Trust http://www.calvert-trust.org.uk