David has been with Sportability from the very beginning. In fact it was a motoring accident to a friend that was the genesis of Sportability. In the process of getting Richard ‘back on his feet’ they saw the potent and empowering effect that sport could have. They formed the Charity to make that experience readily available to more people. David comes from a hugely varied background of entrepreneurial business, journalism, coaching and sport. In the early years he brought to the Charity the business disciplines necessary to ensure viable growth and sustainable levels of service.
The research project for his Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology looked at the role of exercise in promoting wellbeing among people with spinal cord injury, and as he says, “Sportability is the extension of that.” As chief executive he has been driving the expansion of the Charity into more events in more regions of the UK, while always maintaining the core standards and beliefs.
He says, “Even now, after 25 years and organising literally hundreds of events, I still thrill to see the effect that our events and activities have on people, not just the participants, but on friends and family. The Sportability Experience really does change lives.”
Valerie has had a varied career in office management and marketing. Her early working life saw her contracting in various office environments in many roles, starting from Clerk through to Manager. She spent 11 years with the Council as Complaints Officer, Office Administrator and Project Officer, during which time she completed her Diploma in Management Studies. After a period as a self-employed IT trainer she joined the NHS at Wandsworth PCT in Admin and Telemarketing. Then, in May 2009, Valerie brought her plethora of skills to Sportability, as our Charity Administrator and has now been promoted to General Manager.
She has overseen the formation and growth of our Area Organiser network, refined the events booking system and is the lynchpin of Sportability’s electronic media and social networking.
“Working with Sportability has given me a whole new outlook on life. To see the positive effect our events have, not only in terms of enjoyment, but in how they build confidence and self-esteem is something very special. I’m proud to be part of it!”
Ann joined the Charity as Administrator in January 2014. For many years she worked in admin in the NHS, but was always interested in the Third Sector. So she volunteered and worked in Fundraising at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Ann still does voluntary work with a smaller dog rescue charity, All Dogs Matter.
In her own words, she loves crafts and is “an avid patchworker and quilter”. She is also into Pilates and is a keen walker, regularly ‘yomping’ over Hampstead Heath with her Nordic walking group.
In fact, Ann has taken part in the half marathon Moon Walk through London, walked two sections of the Camino de Santiago and generously devoted part of her holiday to walking and raising funds for Sportability.
Ann says, “Talking to Sportability members and hearing how they enjoyed our events makes my day, and can, at times, move me to tears. I’ve quickly learned that Sportability provides a life changing experience. As one man told me, when he returned from a Microlight flight, ‘I will remember this feeling for the rest of my life’. To be a part of the team making this happen is truly worthwhile.”
Aaron is the Sportability ‘face’ that many first meet as he runs a series of events in the Home Counties. He’s the guy who gets people in and out of microlights, gliders, canoes etc and makes sure that the events go with a swing.
His involvement in sport has always been total. After an apprenticeship in track athletics, martial arts and rugby he worked his way to the top of the British American Football League. Outgrowing that performance level he graduated to the wider stage of the European League. A move to play in the States was curtailed by a serious playing injury, which required reconstructive knee surgery. This kept him out of the game for two seasons, but was no deterrent to his competitive drive. He came back to help his club, Seville to the top of the highly competitive European League, and was twice voted Most Valued Player of the year. Since his retirement he has become a qualified strength and conditioning coach, and he maintains a personal training regime of the highest level. As a voluntary ‘roaming’ Area Organiser with Sportability over the past six years, he has developed a tremendous empathy with the members and encapsulates the aims and ideals of the Charity.
“It is fantastic to be able to help people participate in things they probably never even thought they could do before their accident or illness. The surge of confidence, the sense of achievement is always amazing. And it’s fun! It’s great to be involved and I’m just pleased I’m able to help Sportability make such a difference.”