I am trying to get my children to develop wider interests than computer games so gave my older daughter Anna a subscription to an excellent magazine called The Week Junior for Christmas, which is a children’s version of The Week.
Early in the summer an article about the Tokyo Paralympics caught her eye and we started following it closely. Since being responsible for the London Games in 2012, I have always found myself more passionate about the Paralympics even than the Olympics because the stories of each individual athlete are just that bit more extraordinary.
And so it is with Farnham’s very own superheroes Rachel Morris and Kylie Grimes, our two Paralympic champions who between them have ensured that there has been a local gold medalist for every year that I have been MP.
As well as representing their country with distinction, both have done an enormous amount to inspire young people in our area at countless events including many school visits.
Rachel worked with me to set up the Surrey Para Games which prior to the pandemic was Surrey’s biggest disability sport event – and we hope to restart next year.
It was therefore a huge excitement in the Hunt household to be invited to a welcome home party for Kylie Grimes at the Hale Recreation Ground on Saturday morning.
The event was organised at lightning speed by Farnham North councillor Catherine Powell, and I came with my three children.
We were thrilled to see Kylie, and Anna even got to hold Kylie’s gold medal. We were part of a large crowd who gathered in high spirits to congratulate her and her family, from whom she has had enormous support.
Kylie was always sporty, but had a terrible accident when she was 18 that left her wheelchair-bound. Since then she has done the most remarkable things, not least becoming the only woman in the Team GB mixed wheelchair rugby team that stormed to victory at Tokyo.
Kylie told us the real name for her sport was ‘murderball’, which sounds dramatic but gives a sense of the pace of the sport.
However, even someone as opposed to political correctness as I am can understand why the Paralympics organisers chose a more harmless name.
Kylie’s achievement – and Rachel’s before her – makes us incredibly proud of our area. But it also sends out an important message, namely that disabled people should be judged not on what they can’t do but what they can.
London 2012 was the first games when the media really treated the Olympics and the Paralympics equally – Ellie Simmonds was every bit as much of a celebrity as Mo Farah.
That is a good first step, but there is much still to do in terms of changing attitudes towards disability. We can be very grateful that we have two wonderful people locally showing us how.
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