The British Polio Fellowship
Worthing & Sussex Branch
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Polio Games at Walsall  Feb 24th 2007


Martin Jim and Robin at the Polio games, Walsall.


Polio Games at Walsall  Feb 24th 2007, by Robin Stephens

Oh what fun, I was asked to represent the Worthing branch at the Walsall games this year as part of the South of England team, my speciality is darts and I was going to show these amateurs just how to play the game!!!.

My wife Karen and I travelled up with Maureen Sullivan, another member of the team competing in the indoor bowls, and it was a nice opportunity for us to get to know Maureen, a newer member of our branch. We stopped for lunch at a Sussex winery and left there with plenty of time for the onward journey.

After a long uneventful journey we were met at the door of the Hotel by Mary Gillies who had organised the south of England group and was soon whisk through a very efficient checking in system and off to our rooms.

 After unpacking the suitcase and checking out the TV, heating, hairdryer etc, we all met at the lounge bar an hour or so later and to meet and greet everybody. I bumped into some old friends that I hadnít seen for many years, and was pleased to see that most of them had put on a few pounds, just as I had. The organiser Gordon Lumb came over and introduced him self, told us about the games, the people helping him with the organisation and where the events were to be held, along with some really juicy gossip, but youíll have to ask me in person about that!!!! Anyway all very friendly and we all felt quite at home.

 Later than evening we all rolled into the restaurant where we were dished out a very mediocre meal, nothing special at all, a typical canteen type meal, but welcome nevertheless as I was starving. That evening we sat around talking and taking in the atmosphere. Talking about atmosphere, I was more than surprised that many polio members were smoking for all they were worth, thus polluting the whole area, but at least that wont be a problem next year when the new smoking regulations coming into effect in July, cant wait.

The following day we went to the restaurant where we had a lovely breakfast with all the trimmings, Karen very sensibly had fruit and cereal and I, not so sensibly, had a full English, hmm lovely. After breakfast we turned up at our respective events, the darts match was being played next to the restaurant and I checked in to the games. On the games list I was the last player and so had plenty of time to go and watch some of the other games, we watched Maureen expertly launch her bowls towards the puck, looking quite pleased with herself, then onto the botchers match where we watched Aidan Linton-Smith representing the Home counties, playing expertly like a real pro. We couldnít really sit in and watch the dominoes or the drafts matches at all, as they really arenít spectator sports, but we popped our heads in anyway to see what was going on, and saw that they were all concentration for all they were worth on their next moves, so we left them to it and made our way back to the darts. In contrast the darts room was more like a pub, plenty of activity and constant chattering, laughter and cheering, also screams of laughter as one by one the flood light bulbs above the dart boards were destroyed by stray darts, oh yes, this happened three times in the first round alone; luckily they bought plenty of spares.

10.30 tea and biscuits, I really had to force myself.

12.30 a pack lunch, of sandwiches biscuits and fruit.

 At 2pm the games re-started and at last it was my turn, it was about now I found out I was playing last years champion Steve, not a polio sufferer himself, but an associate member and a regular darts player at his local pub, he was very good indeed and I was well and truly thrashed by him, although we did get down to doubles together on the first game. I really should have done a lot better, if only the draw had gone my way, as a number of the players only hit the dartboard purely by chance, still thatís the luck of the draw and the guy I was drawn against this year was just far too good for me, and again he went on the win the Darts event for another year, well done Steve (he said through gritted teeth).

 So that was it for me, one match and out, thatís life, still not too worry, we had plenty of time to visit the other games going on around the hotel and watched as the other matches as they drew to a close.

 After the games there was a presentation, then it was soon time for another meal, again nothing special, the staff didnít quite seem to know what was going on at all, that made me smile as we watched them rushing about in all directions. But the food was ok and it gave us all a chance to reflect on the day. The entertainment that evening was from a one woman sing-a-long who strutted her stuff to many of the old songs that we all knew. I nearly got up to dance myself at one point, but thought better of it in the end, as I remember falling over the last time I had a go, so we sat and were entertained by the others. We met up with our group and were soon joined by some new friends we had made at the darts match and exchanged stories all evening; we retired to bed at about 11pm.

 My overall impression was very positive, and for me it was nice to be in company where so many other people waddled up and down as they walked as I do, I didnít feel the odd one out for a changed, plus I made many new friends, and found that I had so much in common with many of them. The games were good fun, well organised and a pleasure to have been part of, and I am already looking forward to next yearís event.

Well done BPF.

Robin Stephens

 PS Iím sure your wondering about the cup we are holding, well Iíll come clean, it was borrowed from the table next to ours for the photo.



 Karen and Maureen