Meet Team AT
Ability Today has a fantastic team that is helping to create the largest knowledge hub for the disabled community and provide individuals with the opportunities and tools to live better connected lives.
Founder – Grant Logan
On a sunny morning, September 2003 my life took dramatic change of direction, which would alter the way I lived for the rest of my life. I was working in the music business as a manager of artists and songwriters, working with them on all aspects of their careers. A busy life but I really enjoyed it.
The day my life changed… I had gone to Exeter with a couple of friends on a weekend motorbike trip and on the way back I had an accident I have no recollection of. Apparently the bike skidded on some gravel on a sharp corner and I ended up in a farmer’s field, waking up two days later to find family and friends gathered around my hospital bed. I was pretty battered, high on morphine for the pain and through the haze of it all it was then I discovered that I had crushed my spine and I would never walk again.
It was a gruelling few months with various operations and rehabilitation but one thing stuck with me, while in hospital I have this vivid memory of a nurse coming and telling me that one-day I would realise I was one of the lucky ones! I wouldn’t understand what she meant until later on.
So I was discharged just before Christmas 2003 and started on the road back to independence. Washing, cleaning, learning to drive (with hand controls). I had to master again the simplest of tasks that most people take for granted, I went back to work almost immediately and it became clear quickly that my type of work was going to be quite challenging in a wheelchair. I had travelled with my artists taking them to shows and events as well as accompanying them to press and TV shows, but I soon realised it had actually become more difficult getting me in and out of a building than them!
In the following months as I started the journey of accepting the new normal in my life things took a turn again and I came down with the hospital superbug MRSA. In some ways I think this had more of a detrimental effect on me than the accident as I became very ill and eventually had to have all the reconstructive metalwork removed from my back.
Its was down to my friends and family getting me through this tough time, everyone rallied and I worked hard at staying positive. During this time I started asking more questions about disability, and without realising my research had started into something that was going to help reshape my life.
There are some fantastic organisations out there with some wonderful people helping the disabled community to help rebuild shattered lives, so I started to reach out to many of them.
My first experience was a multi activity course in the Lake District. I remember vividly the first morning sitting outside the B&B with about ten other wheelchair users when the organisers turned to the tallest mountain in view and said, “We’re going to climb that today!!” The feeling of sitting on top of that mountain and having the realisation that I could still achieve my dreams was a very powerful emotion. One that made me realise that I could still have a life.
That was in 2005 and in 2006 I went skiing to Colorado with The Back Up Trust and six other wheelchair users. Returning from Colorado, this was when the first of my ideas for building a website for the disabled came about.
My first venture was a site called The Wheel Life, the first social network for wheelchair users. This was before Facebook, when Myspace was the network of the moment and we connected chair users from all around the world and gave them a platform to express themselves on. It also worked very well for me on a personal level by putting me in the centre of the disabled community, this meant people, charities and organisations would contact me about events going on and ask me to help spread their message.
After engaging with professionals, organisations and other wheel chair users I soon realised though there just wasn’t enough information readily available to the disabled community. Its got much better but you really have to research things, it certainly wasn’t easy. So after hearing one too many wheelchair users say “I wish I had known about that” I decided to start Disability Today, now rebranded Ability Today, primarily to help give everyone the opportunity to access the information they need but often miss out on.
Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to be involved in some incredible adventures. From climbing Ben Nevis for Capability Scotland, pulling a jumbo jet along the runway with other wheelchair users to break a world record, to flying, gliding, micro-lighting, rally driving, quad biking, clay pigeon shooting, water skiing and even getting back on a motorcycle and racing round Castle Combe at over a 100 miles an hour! I have also become a trustee of The White Lodge Centre, a charity that’s been going for 55 years, supporting children and adults with severe disabilities.
As well as the charitable side a few years ago I got involved with a research project looking at the advancement of exoskeletons for the paralysed, and I’m participating in an on going study in to the effects of osteoporosis and the drugs being developed to hold it back, I’m a test case but it seems to be working. My scans reveal that after 16 years in a wheelchair, my bone density is still the same as an able bodied man my age. This is obviously great news for me and others living with paralysis.
So I’m 50 now and it’s been a serious rollercoaster ride so far, with definitely some ups and downs but I really do know………………“I am one of the lucky ones!!”
Ability Today – Ambassador
Olivia overcame serious health challenges and beat the bullies to become a record-breaking wheelchair racer.
Born prematurely at just 24 weeks and weighing 1lb 11oz, Olivia was the only one of triplets to survive.
Struggling to breathe and suffering a bleed to her brain, she spent nearly six months in a special baby care unit and needed oxygen at home for a year. When she was a year old, she was diagnosed with athetoid cerebral palsy in all four limbs, and registered severely sight impaired and profoundly deaf.
Growing up, she was bullied at school and became increasingly unhappy. In 2014, her dad suggested that they go along to a taster session at the Weir Archer Academy, set up by Paralympic legend David Weir and his coach Jenny Archer.
Inspired, she started wheelchair racing and has never looked back. In 2015, she classified as a T33 wheelchair racer. After breaking age records, this year she represented England in the CPRISA World Games in Barcelona, where she won one silver and one bronze medal.
Olivia, who attends a mainstream school and is an ambassador for Ability Today, says: “At times I have found life very challenging as I have had to face lots of hurdles. Before I took part in sport I was not the person I am today.
“When I first started at the academy I was finding it very hard to make friends at school. I didn’t want to do much with my life and had very little confidence to talk about my disabilities.
“This sport has given me the opportunity to make friends who understand what I have been through. I love the fact it’s a great support network, not just for me but for my parents too.”
In 2019 Olivia flew up the UK and world rankings to be currently sitting at BRITISH N:1 across 100-800M, top 3 in 800m and top 4 across 100-400m worldwide and with T33 finally having a pathway to the ParaOlympics Olivia has a sights set on Paris 2024.
Ability Today is delighted that Olivia has become our first Ambassador and we look forward to following her sporting success along with her contributions to our news platform.
For more information click Olivia’s website link www.livst33.com
Ability Today – Assistant Editor (ADJ Graduate)
My name is Khaleel al-Soubur Chima, born in Glasgow on 11th October 1990. I am Pakistani decent and part Iranian. I am the eldest out of three brothers. At nine months old, I was diagnosed with Glutaric aciduria type 1, an inherited disorder affecting my limbs and vocal cords. However, I put this behind me and strive to succeed in life.
I started nursery which was only for children with disabilities. I did some tests to help people discuss my future education and soon I attended both a mainstream nursery and the special nursery. I went to one in the morning and to the other during afternoons.
When I moved to Slough in Berkshire, I was put into a school for children with disabilities, in Reading called The Avenue School. There I learnt how to drive a powerchair before turning six. I then transferred to Priory School, which had both children with special needs and those who did not. I moved into the mainstream class full time. This is where my intellect level and social life started to boom.
For secondary school, I first attended Charters School in Ascot. Due to my spinal operation, I had to attend a more local school called The Westgate School. I went back to Charters for sixth form.
I gained an Upper Second Class degree in BSc (Hons) Mathematics at Kingston University, in the year 2016.
I consider myself to be very lucky and am thankful for becoming a confident, energetic, enthusiastic and motivated wheelchair user with a hardworking and positive attitude. As proven in my academic and personal life, I have the courage, determination and desire to succeed.
My other achievements include ‘Child of Achievement’ award 1998, nominated for bravery.
Interests are writing poetry, most been published. Powerchair football, played in the national league for Reading Powerchair FC. I produce and upload math tutorials onto YouTube.
Ability Today – Advisory Board
We are delighted to have established an advisory board at the beginning of the year. This includes members from various sectors within industry that advise Ability Today on how to achieve its goals.
Grant Logan – CEO Founder – Linkedin
Jacqueline Winstanley – Chair – Linkedin
John Black – Linkedin
Damian Bradbury – Linkedin
Colin Betteridge – Linkedin
Lee Davison-Poltock – Linkedin
Sarah Davison-Poltock – Linkedin
Phil Evans – Linkedin
Pete Kirtley – Linkedin
Craig Logan – Linkedin
Joanne Mickelwright – Linkedin
Andrew Moody – Linkedin
& Harley Logan – Ability Today Mascot !