During lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic I thought I'd make use of my daily exercise to support Lung Ha Theatre Company, Lothian Disability Sport and Friends of Chitambo, three charities dear to my heart, and do a sponsored walk within the garden. 100 times round the garden will be about 6 kilometres, 4 miles. With my disability, an above hip amputation, this will be quite a challenge and will require roughly twice as much energy than what would be needed prior to my amputation - but I'd hope to achieve it in about 3 weeks. I very much hope people see fit to support me in this effort to raise funds for these amazing organisations!
A donation of £5, £10, £20 or as much as you can afford will be shared equally between the charities to further their amazing work.
My background and relationship with the charities
In 1984 I started Lung Ha, supported by Pete Clerk and others, after having run a drama group with people with learning disabilities and also building sets in community theatre at Theatre Workshop. Most 'experts' said it would never work, 36 years later Lung Ha is thriving, most of those experts have vanished. Over the years it's been hugely satisfying seeing the Company grow and develop its national and international reputation and seeing members develop their theatrical skills and grow in self-conﬁdence. As Maria, our Artistic Director said once in an interview "Some people came to Lung Ha shows to see disability theatre, they came back to see good theatre". I've been honoured a few times by being asked to collect awards on behalf of Lung Ha.
Ten years later I was diagnosed with bone cancer in my pelvis and eventually had to get a new leg and had to give up my business as a tree surgeon.
Shortly after I'd learned how to walk again, I took up archery and later did my coaching course. In addition to mainstream coaching I also started some groups doing archery with people with a wide spectrum of disabilities with Lothian Disability Sport (LDS). As with Lung Ha, people come for the activity, in this case, shooting arrows, they also gain enormously from the social experience and mutual support. I had the wonderful experience of taking part in the Queen's Baton Relay in 2014 before the Glasgow Commonwealth Games having been nominated by Lothian Disability Sport.
Jo grew up in Zambia where her parents ran the hospital at Chitambo, this was founded in 1908 in memory of Scottish explorer/missionary David Livingstone. In 2003 she went back with her sisters to visit and as a result started Friends of Chitambo, supporting the hospital. Initially she raised money for an ambulance, then went on to help with several other activities there including re-starting the School of Nursing. Our son Paul has been there to help set up the computing system there and to help with the driving, the 4th generation of the family to be there. Friends of Chitambo (FoCH) now helps with a number of things, sponsoring student nurses, setting up emergency communications, maintaining the ambulances etc. We're now sourcing personal protective equipment for the hospital. I'm one of the Trustees of the charity.
Lothian Disability Sport
LDS was originally set up as Lothian Sports Association for the Disabled back in 1962. Since then it has evolved over the decades, culminating in the creation of the registered Scottish Charity Lothian Disability Sport (LDS) in 1998. The underlying principles of LDS are to promote sport and physical activity for people with a physical, learning or sensory impairment through the following ways:
- To promote the welfare of all people with a disability through sport and physical recreation by providing sporting and leisure opportunities for all people with a disability
- To help individuals develop confidence through participation in sport and leisure activities in order to promote health and well being
- To encourage individuals to develop any particular sporting abilities which they may have and to aid them in furthering their sporting potential to a level to which they aspire
- To provide and promote opportunities for clubs and club members to participate in a range of sporting and leisure activities, including competitive sport, and encourage and support them to do so
- To publish and distribute regular up-to-date information on activities and facilities
Lung Ha Theatre Company
Lung Ha Theatre Company began its life as Lung Ha’s Theatre Company in October 1984. A sixty strong team of performers, with a learning disability, under the direction of Richard Vallis and Pete Clerke created and performed their own version of the fabled “Monkey” stories (for a time we were called Lung Ha’s Monkey Theatre). The production was hugely successful and a new company and vitally important new theatrical voice launched onto the Scottish stage.
Since then the Company has worked with over three hundred performers with a learning disability creating over forty original productions. The Company and has also worked with some of the leading artists and creative organisations across the country. The Company has also toured internationally to England, France, Ireland, Poland, Sweden and Finland, and is now firmly embedded as part of the cultural output of Scotland.
Friends of Chitambo
Friends of Chitambo, founded independently in 2011, is a Scottish charitable organisation that aims to support health projects in Chitambo district, Central Province, Zambia. We currently support the hospital, the ambulance service and the nurse training school. We also focus on strengthening the ties of friendship and knowledge exchange between Zambia and Scotland, dedicated partners with important historical links.
Chitambo Hospital was founded in 1908 by the Moffats, family of Mary Livingstone, in memory of her husband, David Livingstone, who died in the district. Originally run by Church of Scotland missionaries- including relatives of our Friends of Chitambo founder- it is now under the control of the Zambian Ministry of Health. Scottish connections were rekindled when descendants of Scottish missionaries revisited the hospital in 2004.
Chitambo district is in the eastern side of Central Province, serving a population of approximately 65,000. The small 100-bed hospital is the hub for 13 rural health clinics (RHC), some of which are up to 160km from the hospital.