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Update From Special Olympics Ski Team Grampian

Special Olympics Ski Team Grampian have taken the time to check in with an update on their activities for the remainder of 2012. We love to follow their activities and wish them well in their competitions for 2013.  Our thanks to Andy for providing this summary.

I would like to give you an update on our activities over these last twelve months. When I last wrote in January, our four skiers were competing in the Special Olympics British Championships in Italy, and I understand one of our support staff sent you a progress report from the event. They had a wonderful time, met Martin Bell the TV ski commentator, and were so proud of themselves to have competed at this level. It also fulfilled our goals of helping these young people to develop their social and personal skills which can be transferred to everyday living. After all, (sadly!) life is not always about skiing the mountains. We never lose sight of that.

Having previously only worked with existing skiers, in the spring of 2012 we took the plunge to trial some complete beginners, some with substantial learning disabilities, and mostly from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. It meant recruiting and training more staff, and increasing out fundraising efforts, so that those who needed to be subsidised could participate. After working for a six week block on a one-one and indeed sometimes two staff to one skier basis, we knew that we were right ........ if you give people the time to learn, observe them closely, and give them the detailed support they need, nothing will stop them.

So after the summer recess we developed a full training programme for the whole group, now nineteen skiers at three different levels, and a panel of eight instructors. Some skiers travelled to Birmingham to take part in the West Midlands Open Championships, all of course wearing our team kit - and flying the logo for Jo - performing in a way that their parents - or us at the beginning - simply did not believe was possible.

This year we were also delighted that one of our skiers of the original starters, Luke Purdie was selected for the British Team at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea. He is there at the moment [January 2013]. We organised some useful publicity around the selection, and the story was covered by local press and Scottish television.

Three more skiers are joining a Rossendale based ski group to Switzerland in March. Luke's father, Jim, has now taken over as Chairman of the Grampian Ski Group. We now have four years training and development plan and funding in place to support the programme. My goodness, it has come a long way in the last three years, and remains very much on track of our original aims of believing that people with a learning disability will thrive physically and emotionally if they are given skilful support. Just let them have a chance!

Our best wishes to you and the Trust in continuing to provide seed funding for other groups in the way you did with Special Olympics Ski Team Grampian. It definitely worked for us.

Warm wishes, Andy


Local Aberdeensire Grants 2011


Our initial intention had been to give two separate donations, with the Jo Walters Trust pledging to match the amount the individual or organisation raise, up to a maximum amount of £2,000 per project.

We quickly realised that whittling it down to just the two was nigh on impossible! So instead we have chosen, we're sure you will agree, four fantastic projects to support. This has been made possible by the fantastic fundraising that has been carried out to date, and we're really grateful for the support shown to the trust in its fledgling year.

Read more ...



LN783 Lord Nelson: Lerwick to Aberdeen

by Katrina Christie from Shetland.

katrina christiekatrina christie_3Even though I’ve lived in Shetland all my life I have never been sailing before (I am pretty sure going on the local inter-island ferry or the boat from Lerwick to Aberdeen count). When I became ill it was something that I thought would never happen. On being offered a place on the Lord Nelson, I was very excited and expectant of what was to come.

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Bristol OTC Prize 2011


A prize for the Officer Cadet in Bristol OTC who does the most for charity or the community.

The winner, Mandy Robertson, a twenty-one year old Law student from Bristol University received £100.  Mandy wrote:

Whilst at school I used to be heavily involved in charity work in Liverpool, volunteering with physically and mentally disabled children as a play scheme worker with Kids Konnect Charity. I currently volunteer for two weeks each summer at Formby Holiday Club which provides art and crafts activities for primary school children.

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Update from the Deveron, Bogie & Isla Rivers Charitable Trust


The Deveron Bogie & Isla Rivers Charitable Trust have sent us an update on their activities since they received their grant from the Jo Walters Trust.  They have been setting up interpretation boards at their Lochpark Hatchery in Drummuir. Click the image below to see an enlarged version

Glass Primary School

The photograph on the right is of the pupils at Glass Primary School, with their tank and their cool box. The boxes have been very successful particularly during the recent spell of unseasonably warm weather (March 2012). All the schools have done very well with very few loss of fish.


Award Made To Bristol ACF


OTC Nepal Trip reportThe Jo Walters Trust made an award of £2000 for Bristol Army Cadet Force: Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions.


Bristol Army Cadet Force is a youth organisation working with 12-18 year olds, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds in Bristol. Most of the 150 staff are volunteers, with the majority of its funding coming from the Army.


Adam and Brett are 18 year old brothers from Bristol ACF that are making a life-changing expedition to Nepal as part of their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. The ACF asked that part of the donation supports their expedition as they have given a great deal to the ACF over the years and provide excellent role models to other cadets. You can download a copy of their report on the Nepal trip by clicking here 

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This update was provided to us by the Grampain Ski Team. 

Dear Lucy

I would like to up-date you and your fellow Trustees about what has been happening with Ski Team Grampian since the summer.

gst1Our four skiers in the race squad have trained most Wednesday evenings throughout the year, and we are beginning to see real improvements in their technical skills. Equally important for them they look out for one another as a team, enjoy each-others' good performances, and cheer each other on.

Training at Aberdeen Snowsports Centre is on a weekly or fortnightly basis, depending on the season, with further snow training planned at local ski centres. Teaching our skiers has become one of the options for professional development for the Snowsport Centre's own instructors, and at present eight staff take advantage of furthering their experience and qualifications through this scheme. One instructor has created an exciting and effective development; ankle pressure pads wired up to light up red and green lights on the wrist to give the skier feedback whether they are leaning forwards or backwards.

gst2The skiers have also been involved in raising money themselves, eating smarties out of a tube, then getting other people to fill the tubes with money. As you can imagine, they are always eager to come back for more tubes!

In mid October they travelled to Birmingham to compete in the West Midlands Open Ski Championships, competing with 74 Special Olympics Skiers from around the UK. Of our four skiers who took part, Luke Purdie won the Mens Intermediate Giant Slalom Div.1, and Kristen Wrate gained third place in the Womens Intermediate Slalom Div.1. Steph Salvesen and Aryamher Zarisfi both skied clear rounds. So, some great results. Their continued training includes a day at the artificial snow centre at Braehead, Glasgow in December.

gst3Competition was tough there with many competitors there to qualify for the British Championships in Italy in January. We continued to raise funding support for this event which is an essential milestone in qualifying the athletes for possible selection for the World Winter Games in South Korea in 2013.

We also put in place two 6-session beginners programmes for 10 children from September to December. Further fund-raising activities allowed us to subsidise the costs of the programme. Some of the children would not have been able to participate without this assistance. The results have been fantastic, and all of the skiers have signed up to continue the programme in 2012.

gst4Our team kit is finally arriving this week and will be sent away for the logos of the two major award giving bodies, the Jo Walters Trust and Awards for All to be embroidered on the jackets. We have raised enough money to purchase a dozen or so of these so that all Grampian's Special Olympic skiers can wear them. I must say, we are all very excited about them. They will be worn proudly, and they will give the team a strong identity for many years. We will have a press call on the evening of Jan 10th, the last training night before the squad heads off for the British Special Olympic Winter Games 2012, and we will of course acknowledge the invaluable part the Jo Walters Trust has played in our development. We will especially remember Jo, whose life continues to give challenge and joy to a whole new group of young people.

We were thrilled to hear that the Special Olympics athletes from Ski Team Grampian whose gear we sponsored had a fantastic time at the National Alpine Ski Championships in Pila in January. The team did brilliantly and had a great time by all accounts so the kit must have been doing its stuff. There are some pictures below of them in the kit that the Jo Walters Trust purchased for them, and also another nice one of them in their kit with a large Saltire flag on the Special Olympics GB ski team blog here

All the results from the event are available on their website here.

JWT kristen steph
L-R Head Coach Malcolm, Luke Purdie, Steph Salvesen, Kristen Wrate, Ruth Barclay and instructor Bob Thow Kristen & Steph

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