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Disability Challenge on the Long Mynd

One of the great ambitions of Geoff Forgie, the founder of Shropshire Disability Network, was fulfilled in September with the running of SDN’s first Disability Challenge on the Long Mynd. Geoff and others had been working towards the idea before his death, and it was only fitting that the event was named in his memory.

His widow Sue was on hand to start each team off and to present certificates afterwards. Daughter Jess led one of the six teams that that took part, fittingly called by her father’s initials as Team GDF.

Their challenge was to carry a wheelchair passenger - who SDN decided to call pioneers - up Cardingmill Valley, over the Long Mynd to its highest point at Pole Bank, and then return to Church Stretton via The Burway.

The Disability Challenge was created both as a fund-raiser and an awareness raiser. It succeeded brilliantly at both, with the amount raised being more than £1500.

“Geoff wanted to give adventurous, spirited people with limited mobility the opportunity to get to places they would not otherwise be able to enjoy, and that is how the idea of the Challenge came about,” said Dave Hewetson, an SDN management committee member and the main organiser of the event.

“The teams and the pioneers were fantastic. The five-mile route demanded a lot from them and each of them rose to the challenge. We had expected the teams to take three to three and a half hours to finish the course, but they were back in far less time than that. It wasn’t a race, but people just wanted to give it their best.

“We can’t thank them enough, but equally the challenge could not have happened without the amazing support of some 40 volunteers behind the scenes. Many helped prepare for the event as well as being on duty throughout the day.

“And we are also grateful to the generous sponsorship of Campbell Keay, Julie Stealey, Carphone Warehouse, Walford College and Lloyds Animal Feeds.”

The Disability Challenge even had two links with the Paralympics. One of the pioneers, Debbie Brennan, was a gold medal winner at Sydney 2000 and another, Daisy Nash, was a torch bearer at London 2012.

Debbie, who raced in the 100 and 200 metres events, brought along her medals and her racing wheelchair, which attracted a lot of attention. As well as the Sydney gold, she won silver and bronze at Athens in 2004.

The teams were: Shropshire Fire & Friends, led by Mark Donnelly, with Daisy Nash in the chair; The West Mercia Wheezers, Paul Moxley, Ruth Fairclough; West Mercia Ladies, Amanda Blakeman, Debbie Brennan; Team GDF, Jess Forgie, Hilary Fisher; Bridgnorth Aluminium, John Littley, Will Martin; White Watch Shrewsbury, Neil Grady, Alan Townsend.