I first picked up a Boccia ball early 2017 when I was 33 years old. I had graduated from university and qualified as a primary school teacher but sadly the teaching world was not as inclusive as I had hoped. It became exhausting as my disability side effects worsened. I then went on to complete half an MA in Design but had to stop that too for the same reasons. I’m not someone who can sit around doing nothing and needed to find something I could do whilst working within the confines of my disability. Then I discovered Boccia. 


My Mother ran a school Boccia club for years and I had always watched boccia on the Paralympics. I was told by medical experts that I needed to keep moving to control my side effects. I have Arthrogryposis, Scoliosis and Torticollis, which means I cannot leave my wheelchair independently. I always wanted to play a competitive sport but couldn’t find anything physically possible to participate in from my wheelchair. Boccia seemed perfect for this as it is fully inclusive. So I found my nearest club through Boccia England but sadly it was over 30 minutes away. However, I went along to try the sport and I immediately fell in love with it. 


After attending for a couple of months I was finding the drive exhausting on top of playing Boccia. I didn’t understand why there wasn’t a club in my local community. So me being the determined person I am decided to start up my own club in Yate, Bristol. At first it was an extremely daunting prospect but with support from Access Sport I had my first GEM Boccia club session and it was a huge success. Since then we have gone from strength to strength and have 15 regular members. We operate under the ethos ‘inclusive to ALL’. 


That was just over three years ago and in that time so many amazing things have happened on my Boccia journey. As a BC4 player I got selected to join the Gladiators academy after just one year of playing the sport. I have won several medals in the Heathcoat and BE Cups and am progressing more each season. 


As for volunteering at GEM Boccia club, wow, incredible things have happened. In 2019 I won Access Sport’s Volunteer of the Year award. Then later on in the year I won BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero for the West. I got to attend the SPOTY award ceremony, which was an incredible experience meeting so many sports stars. Then from this I have just been given the most amazing opportunity of my life: releasing a single with all the 2019 Unsung Heroes and Rick Astley! It’s called ‘Every One of Us’ and all proceeds go to Children in Need. We made the most phenomenal music videos to go with it, which you can watch on YouTube. 


All this in three and half years (including losing most of 2020 to Covid 19) is more than I could ever have dreamed of. The Boccia world has changed my life in so many positive ways. It’s given me a purpose again since I had to give up working. It’s made me feel like not only am I achieving personal ambitions as a player, but I’m giving something back to my community. I am so grateful to everyone who’s supported me along the way. My journey is only just beginning, particularly as a player, where I hope one day I will reach the Paralympics. 


I urge everyone to keep working hard at things they are passionate about. You never know what may come your way. The opportunities I’ve been given have allowed me to raise the profile of Boccia, inclusive sport and disability awareness to levels I could only have dreamed of. I will always be an advocate for these subject matters and I won’t stop until I can finally say ‘I’m a Boccia player’ and people don’t answer back with ‘What’s Boccia?’