“It’s helped me learn a lot and make new friends. I enjoy doing SO and it keeps you fit. I find it interesting and exciting to do sports. I like going to athletics meetings and it’s great running and you can get medals and go on the podium..."
Stoke-on-Trent is not the most obvious place to live and to take up a new activity based entirely on the sea. But, after many years of different sports, sea kayaking is now what I ‘do’, and I’m pretty sure it’s here to stay. Sea kayaking can involve a lot of time moving slowly, through a salty landscape giving plenty of time to think, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I sea kayak.
When I was nine and at primary school, my dad took me to my first football match at the Victoria Ground, Stoke. There were no boys in our family but dad and I were close and often went on expeditions, so it was natural for him to include me in his football excursions. Sometimes we went on the train from our home in Meir, sometimes on the bus, and sometimes we cycled.
Many years ago after a big operation on my spine I joined a swimming class - it was actually with some pensioners, but it was perfect as I just wanted a gentle swim to get back some mobility. I'd started to get a little stronger and my swimming stroke was improving so it was suggested I join a swimming club as I was not a bad swimmer.
In early July this year Hanley came alive with dancing. Not just in our theatres but in our streets too, and it was all thanks to Stoke-on-Trent’s Big Dance Festival. The weekend was organised by North Staffordshire Dance Development Partnership (NSDDP); a consortium of charities, companies, individuals and educational establishments who are passionate about improving access and communication in dance.
My dancing dream
Is to be in a good team...
The way to succeed is to try
I didn’t mean to cycle from Land’s End to John O Groats. I foolishly told a cycling friend that I’d always wanted to do it when I was younger, and before I’d fully realised what was happening, we were planning to do it together in 2014. She was celebrating her 60th birthday, and at 68 I was just hoping to keep up.
When I was only two and a half, my mum decided to enrol me into ballet and tap lessons at the Jill Clewes Performing Arts Centre to give me a hobby - and probably also because I was a very chubby baby. Most children lose interest in their first hobbies until they find what suits them best, switching between musical instruments or sporting activities, but surprisingly I maintained dance for a while. Until now, in fact, at seventeen years old.
When I was at grammar school in the 1960s, I loved all sport. I was strong, with lots of energy, and as they say, it was a 'no-brainer' that I would be involved in every sport going. In an all girls school, it was so easy to take every opportunity offered. We hardly had any male teachers and certainly not for PE. It's funny but I don't remember any of the PE teachers but I do remember loving being part of a team.
Sporting Stories writes: Speedway doesn't feature on our list of sports (those which get you fitter through exercise) but Pat's beautifully written piece really captures the community spirit and sense of well-being which comes through participating in any sport, even as a spectator. If you've ever been to Speedway then you'll find this story wonderfully evocative. And the poems are perfect too...
When I read Cheryl Strayed's book "Wild" (now also a film with Reese Witherspoon), I was very much inspired by her story of walking the Pacific Crest Trail, up the west coast of the USA. The sheer scale of the endeavour, with most of her time spent on her own just walking with one foot in front of the other, was mind blowing. I'm not sure it made me want to walk hundreds of solitary miles, but it did make me wonder what was possible and what I'm capable of doing.
Mowenna Hastings is a wheelchair basketball player, introduced to the game by her mother Tink, who helps coach the Stoke Spitfires team. Mo is an outstanding and passionate player who has just broken into the top level, representing Great Britain in an international competition earlier this year (2016).
You stand once again at the starting line
Waiting for the games to commence
You’ve been here many times before
Yet you must race again and again
I moved to Stoke on Trent in 2009 (I married a local) and found that life in my new home was enjoyable but not really conducive to my health and wellbeing. I was much more sedentary than I'd been whilst living in London, doing very little exercise and gaining weight. I couldn't even run for a bus and the 10 minute walk from my house to the shops became an ever growing challenge. By November 2010 I knew it was time for a change... Working on the mantra of eat less, exercise more, I changed my diet, switched to a smaller dinner plate and started using the exercise bike that had been gathering dust in my garage.
Jean Gough is the daughter of Sir Stanley Matthews, and patron of the Sir Stanley Matthews Coaching Foundation. She has very generously shared this article (previously published on the Foundation’s web site) and some photos from the family’s photo albums as a very personal insight into Sir Stanley, the family man.
Angela Smith is a former world champion squash player, winning the 1979 Women's World Team Squash Championships, and she was one of the world's highest ranked players throughout the 1980's. Playing squash has allowed her to travel the world and she has been involved in numerous initiatives internationally to develop the sport. She is currently chair of Stoke City Supporters Council, a director of the Sir Stanley Matthews Coaching Foundation, and chairs the European City of Sport Local Organising Committee.
Emma Jackson is one of Stoke on Trent’s outstanding athletes, who has represented England at 800m in every age group. She was the fastest junior in the world in 2007 and in that year also won a silver medal at the European Junior Championships. In 2011 she reached the semi-finals of the World Championships and after a spell out with injury has recently represented England again at an international meet.