Road to Victory

post by –  Steven McCulley Founder & Owner of LIOS Bikes

Five years ago I was blown up by an IED in Afghanistan.

After setting up LIOS Bikes Ltd whilst in rehabilitation, ‘Road to Victory’ was very kindly produced by Hogarth Worldwide and charts the build up to the LIOS Nano carbon folding bike winning the MR PORTER Nocturne London Folding Bike Race on 4 Jun 16…almost five years on to the day I was injured!

Please check out the short video and spread it as much as possible…

Thanks

 

 

The SMPL team add: What a positive message and good luck to you and the team!

Lies We Are Told About “The Body Beautiful” (Or – Why I Am Becoming Proud Of My Scars!)

I feel I should do the same as the Mainstream TV Media would do in instances like this blog post.  So – here goes;

WARNING – This Blog Post contains images some readers may find disturbing!!!

It is funny how you sometimes can look at something a million times yet not really see it unless someone points it out to you.  It is also funny how people can be offended by the strangest things.

After all – apparently photos of scantily clad (as in naked or near-naked) women can be printed in mainstream newspapers and hardly anyone complains.  The minute someone shows photos like the ones below – people start getting a bit squeamish and disturbed.

 

                 

 

Yes – this blog post is about a recent phenomenon I am calling “Scar-shaming”.

Please note – all the scars in the above photos (whether or not they are blatently obvious or you need to peer really closely to see them) are the author’s own.  Not only that – they have been on my person for as long as I can remember.  The faint one on my torso is almost as old as I am.

As you can imagine I am slightly sick and tired of there appearing to be one rule for people who have “earned” their scars – be it as a result of a life-threatening injury (stabbing, etc), as a result of fighting for their country, or as a result of illness like meningitis – and another rule for those of us who have scars as a result of life-saving surgery.

The scars I have shown you in the above photographs are on “public display” most of the time (unless I am wearing something which hides them – as in – socks, a long sleeved top, a jumper, etc) and the chances are – if you have seen me – you have seen at least one of them.  (Most probably the one near my collarbone.)

It may surprise you to realise that there are very few parts of my body which do not look like someone has practised their embroidery on me for whatever reason.  You may have to peer closely at me – or catch me when I am wearing different clothes – in order to locate some of the needlework.

I count myself as extremely lucky that my scars only became an issue shortly after I had started secondary school.  I think I have told you about the time when I was getting changed for a swimming lesson and one girl pointed at my front and said “Ugh, what’s that???”?

I am now going to show you what she was pointing at.


(You have to imagine the rest of the scar from near my collarbone going down to meet the top of the vertical scar – I didn’t want to get arrested for putting pornographic photos on here!)

Forget the idea of “Page 3” photos giving me an inferiority complex due to my scars – that girl got in way before I had heard of “Page 3”.

Quite a few years later I managed to shock my Mum by telling a public audience about how the three scars on my torso made me feel.  (I had kept my feelings to myself before that point and she had thought I had found a way to cope with them on my own.)  I still don’t like looking in the mirror when I am in what some might describe as “a state of undress”.

So – in future – please be a little more respectful towards those of us with scars from lifesaving operations (be they scars which have been around for a lifetime or from recent operations for things like cancer).  After all – without the scars – the people they are attached to would not be alive today.

I am not asking you to go for the sympathy vote – as in “Aww – you poor thing”.  Look if you want to (don’t stare) – and ask me about them.  I am happy to tell you about them (as much as I can).

And if you meet a child (or your children meet another child) with serious scarring on their body – please please don’t make them feel ashamed of their appearance.  They have got enough to deal with when they are subjected to fashion and media photos of the “perfect” (unblemished) body.

I must admit this is yet another of those blog posts I really wish I didn’t have to type.  You can pass comment on whether or not you think I should have written it or included the photos – but – remember – this is an issue I have dealt with for most of my life in one way or another.  Just please don’t call me “brave” for doing it.  If you want to do something constructive – get angry at the people who make the decisions as to what is “palatable” for society to see in photographic images and complain about the fact that there are not more photos of scars which are presented in a “positive” way.

I am scared for the next generation of children who will grow up with serious scarring for whatever reason and feel forced to hide themselves away as a result of them  – and the lies the Media tell about them not being “perfect” because of them.

We are all special and we should all be allowed to present ourselves in whatever way we like – scarred or unscarred – without being judged by people who do not know the full story.

Talking About Being Prepared In Case Of Crisis (Or – We All Have Our Part To Play In Getting A Booklet Correct)

There are times when words just fail me.

I am looking at a booklet which I was handed on Friday by a friend of mine called Julian Harrison (yes – he has been mentioned in a previous blog post).

He would like your help with a consultation process relating to the information provided to people with Mental Health Issues regarding Advance Planning.  This is so people know what to do when your condition worsens to such an extent that you do not have the capacity to make decisions for yourself.

Now – I am not exactly the most highly intelligent person on the planet but I am having trouble trying to break the information into manageable chunks in order to wrap my brain cells around it.

It is written in a language which is theoretically aimed at patients and their carers.  However, it appears to have been written by someone who has never experienced the situation for themselves.

What Julian would like to do is find out how the information can be more accessible to patients, carers, and the “Generally interested”.

If you have any experience of Mental Health Issues – and you would like to help Julian – please email him at julian.harrison@ntlworld.com or call him on 07767297566.

It Is Not Only The Road Conditions Or The Weather Conditions You Should Worry About…

The condition of your passengers should also be taken into consideration.

Allow me to explain.

I admit this concept is more aimed at Bus Drivers (please see Please Drive For The Condition of Your Passengers for further explanation) but I think it is something that all drivers could do with considering.

This is not a way of treating all car drivers as idiots (although – sometimes I do wonder if I would actually make a better driver than some of the apparently blind and/or deaf drivers on our roads).  I intend this to be more of a “brush up”.

We have all seen the advertisements and other information advising drivers to consider the condition of the weather as well as the roads – as well as the “Think Bike” campaign and the “Fatal 4 (or 5)” campaign run by various Police Forces.

The strange thing is that the condition of your passenger(s) is never mentioned.  Are they secured into their seats properly? Are they comfortable with your style of driving? Would they feel comfortable in warning you if they weren’t?  (Maybe that last question is more important than the other two.)

We have all been around idiots who failed to pay close enough attention to the road conditions, the applicable speed limit, and the car’s speedometer.

As summer fast approaches – please take extra care when you are driving around – both with and without passengers.  Remember – the aim of your journery should always be to “Arrive Alive”.

Why What We Know Should Be Given Equal Status To Who We Know

I have been reading about the difficulties of getting permanent employment in teaching (a job which I am definitely the wrong type of person to apply for) because schools apparently have a habit of employing people who the Management know personally instead of going for the most qualified people.

This got me thinking.  Applying for jobs can be a soulcrushing exercise in futility.  Apparently there is a list of “buzzwords” which have to appear on CVs these days before you even get on the “possibilities” pile.  This is before you realise that there are certain companies who you can almost put money on having someone in mind for the job you are applying for.

There are certain questions which I have come to hate in job interviews (as well as a couple which I have been asked but it would be illegal to ask me now – I almost laughed when I heard them).

“Are you adaptable?” – Try not to ask me this.  You have just left yourself open to an explanation of exactly how adaptable I have had to be in order to arrive at your premises.  This is especially dangerous if I have had to travel in bright sunshine (for the record – bright lights make me mentally tired very quickly – if I was a plant my label would read “Keep Out Of Direct Sunshine Unless Absolutely Necessary”).

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”  Hmm – what I would consider to be my biggest strength is the exact thing you would consider to be my biggest weakness.  My sight problem ensures that I am non-judgemental, adaptable, self-contained, etc.

And the two questions which would be illegal now?

(In a factory with bright yellow lines on the floor the approximate width of a car tyre) – interviewer points to line on floor – “Can you see that line?”

(In an interview in an office on the first floor of a building) “How will you get downstairs?” Well – I have two options.  I can either throw myself out of the window or I can go the same way as I came up them – if a little slower.  (Before you ask – no I didn’t say that although I was extremely tempted to.)

Forget asking about films, biscuits, and other obscure “trendy” questions.  What can I bring to your Company????  A “Sideways” view of life, Creativity, Sideways thinking, Openmindedness.

There is one question I wish interviewers would ask – “What do you think this job will give you?”

It is all very well asking what the applicant can give to the employer but surely it should be a two way street???  I am not talking about the financial rewards, etc.  I am talking about the difference between how a job applicant can read a job description and the actual job itself.  I have been in job interviews where I have applied for one job and felt like I have been interviewed for a totally different one.

One final thing – if you insist on using an “Unequal Opportunities” Questionnaire please ensure that you treat the “Do you consider yourself Disabled?” question with the respect it deserves.  This is not supposed to be a way of weeding out the “undesireables” from the Application process.  As for the question about what sort of “reasonable adjustments” I may need to do the job???  Sorry, I do not have a crystal ball handy – nor do I have prior knowledge of the layout of your premises.  Besides which – your definition of “reasonable adjustments” and my definition may be two completely different things.

(“Do you have practical knowledge of the Disability Discrimination – or Equalities – Act?” – Yes thanks – Not only that but I have probably found at least two examples of your Company breaking it without you realising it.  However, seeing as we are in an interview situation I cannot tell you about them.)

The Disabled person you interview for your vacancy may not be the most highly qualified candidate but they will probably be the most useful member of your staff if you have the courage to let them ply to their strengths.

Parkrun organisers and runners condemn decision to charge for park usage

Via Get Surrey on 14 APR 2016 Author:  NATASHA SALMON

Council’s decision to charge labelled ‘shortsighted’ while Surrey and North East Hampshire Parkruns say they will remain free of charge .

04/10/2014. 10th anniversary Park Run at Stoke Park. Event founder & Organiser Linda Cairns

The decision by a Bristol parish council to charge a free fitness event to use their green space has been condemned by organisers of Parkrun in Surrey and north east Hampshire.

Runners of every ability are encouraged to take part in Parkrun’s 5km events which are held weekly and locally in CranleighFarnhamFrimleyAldershotWokingGuildford and Reigate.

The runs are organised by volunteers in green spaces and have had almost 933,000 runners take part in the last two years.

Volunteers will help set up and organize the Cranleigh parkrun and take a record of competitors times at the end

However Stoke Gifford Parish Council in Bristol went against the “founding principles” of Parkrun and decided to charge the Little Stoke event to use their park.

This will end that particular Parkrun from taking place and chief operating officer for Parkrun, Tom Williams, said: “Parkrun has had unprecedented success in engaging the least active and encouraging them to exercise regularly.

“Imposing a charge at one event is something that contradicts our founding principles and would set a precedent that threatens our future.”

“It is clear that a per-event or per-runner charge simply would not be sustainable and would threaten our free-to-participate ethos.

“By agreeing to a charge in relation to use of the land at Little Stoke Park we would be establishing a precedent that would put the future of parkrun at risk.”

One of the pilot runners crosses the finish line of the tested Cranleigh parkrun

Following the wide discussion surrounding the topic we approached the Parkruns in Surrey and North East Hampshire for their take on the topic.

Cranleigh

The Cranleigh Parkrun is at Knowle Park and was started in October 2014 by local business owner Martin Bamford.

Mr Bamford said the organisers and parish council recognised the need for free events and therefore there’s would remain so.

“Forcing local parkrun groups to pay goes against the free to participate principle of parkrun events.

“I feel very sorry for all of the volunteers and runners at Little Gifford parkrun, who will have devoted countless hours to establishing and hosting this community event.

“It feels very short-sighted on the part of the parish council, at a time when the national faces a massive public health challenge around obesity and inactivity.

“Here at Cranleigh parkrun, we have an excellent relationship with our landowners, Cranleigh Parish Council and the Knowle Park Initiative, which both recognise the importance of the free-to-participate principle behind parkrun events.

“Since we started Cranleigh parkrun, we have hosted 81 free events with more than 3,800 runs covering 19,280km, from 1,040 different runners.

“We look forward to a long and happy future for Cranleigh parkrun, and welcome anyone who wants to join us on a Saturday morning for a free, timed 5km run around beautiful parkrun.”

Frimley Lodge Park Parkrun

Alice Holt Forest

The Alice Holt Park run, just outside Farnham, hope the Little Stoke Parkrun would only be cancelled temporarily and they would find another location.

Paula Patterson, event director at Alice Holt, said there is no risk of their event stopping any time soon.

“Parkrun will not pay to use the parks so if Surrey parks decided to do this then that would be the end of any Parkrun in that park.

“Alice Holt Parkrun takes place on Forestry Commission land and, as such, is not affected by any decision made by parish/town/borough/county councils.

“As far as we are aware there are no plans by the Forestry Commission to charge us to use the land we run on but if they did then we would have to cease or find an alternative venue.”

The Alice Holt parkrunners pay for their parking while they are at the site which supports the upkeep on the Hampshire forest.

Roger Nield
Runners taking part at the Rushmoor Parkrun

Rushmoor

Run organiser at Rushmoor, Martin Sterio, said their were no future plans to charge for the event held at the army training ground in Farnborough.

Retired Runnymede neighbourhood inspector and MBE holder Roger Nield regularly takes part in the Rushmoor Parkrun, with his wife Lucy, and said the decision by Little Gifford Parish Council was “foolish”.

“We have been going for a year and half and there are some people who have made the most incredible improvements.

“It is great for people who want to get into running but like myself are not part of a running club.

“You can run or wobble and at Rushmoor we had 227 people last weekend of all ages. You can run with your dog or push your child in a pram, it doesn’t matter, it is for eveyone.

“This business in Somerset is a really churlish move and a bit foolish by this council, especially with how big parkrun is in the country and across the world.”

Mr Nield, who is about to start training for a marathon, said its also an opportunity for people to appreciate their green spaces too.

Liz Read and her fellow parkrunners last week at Frimley Lodge Park

Frimley Lodge

Organisers at Frimley Lodge parkrun would not comment on the news from Bristol however they reassured Get Surrey that there were no plans for charges to be introduced at their events.

Liz Read from Aldershot takes part in the Frimley Lodge event every week and thinks the actions of the parish council in Little Gifford are “disgusting”.

“Parkrun is a community event free to everyone and it encourages people to try and be active in a safe and friendly environment.

“on of the key beliefs of Parkrun is that it will always be free to all.

“I have done 58 Parkruns now and if Frimley had to stop it would ruin my Saturdays and I would miss the social side.”

The Frimley Lodge Parkrun on Halloween in 2015

Woking

Woking Borough Council confirmed there were no plans to charge Parkrun to use Woking Park, which many runners will be relieved to hear.

The organisers of the Woking Parkrun would not comment on the actions of Stoke Gifford council but a Parkrun spokesman said: “None of our other 850 worldwide events is under threat, and this is the first time in 12 years we’ve had a council suggest a charge.

“We have events on local authority managed land in addition to sites managed by the Forestry Commission, National trust, Woodland Trust, many runs are in country parks, nature reserves, on sandy beaches etc and our volunteers work closely with them through the set-up process and going forward to ensure the events work for everyone.”

Runners at the start of the 100th Guildford parkrun in Stoke Park, which has now been going for two years. More than 200 took part in this one, taking the total to around 13,000.

Guildford

There are currently no plans to bring in charges at the Guildford Parkrun in Stoke Park.

The organisers could not comment on the events but reiterated Parkrun’s general statement that no charges would be brought to the event.

Graham Evans MP, and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Running, said: “Parkruns provide an invaluable way of utilising public spaces and getting the whole community involved – young and old – in physical activity, which we all know is massively important for our health and wellbeing.

“I am a huge fan of parkrun and regularly take part with my family – the children love it, and my wife and I love being out in the fresh air using our beautiful parks and countryside with them.

“I sincerely hope that a solution will be found to enable Little Stoke parkrun to continue.”

Reigate

There are currently no plans to bring in charges at the Reigate Parkrun in Priory Park.

And Now For Something A Little Different

Until now I have reposted blog posts from my personal blog (Inkyworld) and not necessarily in the order they were written.

This time I decided to do something a little different.  I decided to give you the link to the particular blog post direct on my blog.  (This blog post was freshly typed today.)

I did this for two reasons – it is a blog post which I would like you to read in its original form and also it is on a subject which is very close to my heart (Special Educational Needs students).

The reason that subject is very close to my heart is very simple – I was one of them.

If you agree that children are our future please read When Two Plus Two Equals Zero (Or – What Price A Child’s Future?)

Light Versus Dark (Or Why A Sunny Day May Not Work In My Favour)

I am probably going to shock you by saying this but I don’t like sunshine – or rather – my eyes don’t like it.  What I mean is – given the choice between wandering around outdoors in bright sunshine and sitting quietly indoors you will usually find me indoors.

Why?

Bright sunshine is one of the things which plays havoc with my Photophobia (or the sensitivity of my eyes to bright lights).

In order to combat this I wear transition lenses (what used to be known as “reactolites”).  These can take some time to revert to their normal clear appearance when I go into a dark space.  This means that I may appear to be breaking the interview “rule” of not wearing sunglasses.  Sorry but – given the choice between breaking some “rule” dreamt up by someone who probably had 20/20 vision (and no sensitivity to lights of any kind) and arriving at your office even more blinded and disoriented by the sun than I do even with my glasses on (not forgetting the accomanying eyeache and the headache) – the “rule” goes out of the window.

There is something which you can do to make my life a little easier – make sure your Reception area is moderately lit.  There is nothing worse than having to go from bright sunshine to either a Reception area which would make a brilliant place if you desired to interrogate me using bright lights, or, a Reception Area where I almost have to feel my way to the Reception Desk.

In extreme circumstances bright sunshine can cause me to go on what I call “Shutdown”.  This means that – instead of you seeing the nearest thing to a “normal” person I can be – you may find ourself looking at someone who has definitely got a serious sight problem and who doesn’t mind you knowing about it.  When that happens I just want to hide myself away.

So, maybe next time someone comes to a job interview or a meeting at your offices who is apparently wearing sunglasses you might not think they are being rude to you – they are trying to show you their best side under the circumstances.  If you are unsure – just ask.

Why “Target Audiences” Can Mean You Losing Your Potential Customer!

If there is one phrase which sends shivers down my spine it is the one which includes the words “Target” and “Audience”.

Allow me to explain why that is.

I have come across companies who have concentrated so much on attracting their “Target Audience” that they forgot about the potential audience they already had.

If you think that your “Target Audience” is limited to those people who already know your company and your product or the service you provice – think again.

The above people are the ones who you have already caught on your last “fishing trip”.  As long as you don’t upset them or make their life too difficult they are the ones who are likely to stay around.

Your real “Target Audience” may surprise you.  It is those people who treat your website (and your other literature) as an oldfashioned “shop window” as they decide whether or not to give your company their custom.

However, they are not the most important people.  The most important people are the ones you have decided to invite for a job interview.

How do I work that one out???

Simple (and this actually put me off the idea of even going to an interview with one company – I went but only because I had to as part of my Jobseekers Agreement when I was unemployed).

If your potential employee cannot find their way around your website well enough to be able to research your company – they are likely to feel you treat your employees in the same way as those potential customers who contact your company “on spec”.

The company whose website put me off them were dismissive when I pointed out that I had had difficulties in using their website (in fact it was the worst one I have ever come across before or since).  They informed me that – not only had the website won an award (I get the feeling the RNIB were not included in that particular judging panel) I was not in their “Target Audience” – so they were not going to change it.

I am not sure if they are but – I think websites are used to such an extent that they should be covered by the Equalities Act.  After all, if I cannot read a website for any particular reason I cannot help but feeling as though I am being discriminated against as a result.

Your website is your showcase to the world – try to remember that everybody is your “Target Audience” in one way or another.

1 2