Who Needs Sight?

by James Humphreys

On one of the coldest, wettest, windiest days in January 2006, the Humphreys family drove up to the top of Eglwysillian Mountain in Wales, for me to take part in my latest quest for adventure, QUAD BIKING!!!! ‘Wouldn’t you like to cancel for a dryer day?’ – ‘No way! What’s a drop of rain?’ (Gale force) My Mum’s such a wimp!

After suiting up, my Dad followed me and the instructor from the muddy farmyard to the field with only the sheep for company (Mum stayed in the car!) Dad later drove the car up to the field so that they could watch me practising. Mum was worried that with the rain and mud flying I wouldn’t be able to see, but as I said before we left home, ‘I can’t see anyway!’

After mastering the ‘nursery slopes’, I was off over the hills, for the ride of my life. The instructor was impressed with my co-ordination and ability to follow. Although I couldn’t see the bike in front, I put my head to one side and followed the sound. My motto is ‘you don’t have to have sight to achieve your ambitions, just go for it’. The centre had experience with Special Needs and all precautions were taken; lead bike, then me, followed by another instructor (just in case of accidents).

Summer 2006, and a week at Westward Ho! Rest and relaxation in Devon? – Not likely! Monday was quad biking, again booked beforehand, with one to one instruction, no rain today, BRILLIANT. Friday, eight hours booked at Skern Lodge Activity Centre. I was assigned two instructors for the day. I had chosen my activities beforehand and participated in abseiling, wall climbing, kayaking, snorkelling, zip wire and archery. I had a fantastic day and the instructors thanked me for giving them a ‘brilliant day’. The zip wire was impressive, ‘do you want the easy way or the hard way?’ they asked, obviously the answer was the ’hard way’ and a straight 40ft drop ensued, ‘brilliant, can I do it again?!’ It was like dropping into the black hole. Kayaking and snorkelling also proved a hit, in fact the whole day was worth every penny and I can thoroughly recommend the centre.

Christmas 2006 and my sisters booked me another quad biking session up on the Welsh mountains, but this time I am going to wait for finer weather.

March 2006 and I was given the opportunity to spend four days on Exmoor at the Calvert Trust Outward Bound Centre with other adults with learning disabilities and their carers. I did rock climbing, abseiling, zip wire, archery, horse riding and canoeing and speed boat, and had a wonderful time as the photos prove. It was great to take part in the activities of ‘normal folk’. I am now thinking of taking up horse riding!!!

April 2007 – Quad biking again and pony & trap with friends who live locally and guess what? YES, it rained, but it was a great experience, and I can’t wait to go again and spend time at their stables. Also in April, the LMBBS Conference outing. No staying behind to listen to the conference for me. I much prefer hanging upside down on the rides at Drayton Manor and making the carers do the same! I had a fantastic day out with all my friends.

August 2007, at last, after 3 months of cancellations because of the weather conditions, my tandem parachute jump to raise money for LMBBS. Absolutely fantastic, and this time I came somersaulting out of the plane, and the instructor kept taking me back up, I thought I was never going to come down, I only wish I could have gone up again. I am going to book a double lesson flying a micro light James Bond type plane next, I can’t wait.

As you can see I lead an exciting life; I would like to ride the ‘do-nut’ on the back of a speed boat up the river next!!!

I keep active in between my exploits by attending the gym once a week and working out at home, going swimming and practising Aikido, having recently achieved my orange belt. None of these things would have been possible if I hadn’t made the decision in June 2001 to lose weight. At that time I weighed 18st 7lbs and was not very active as you can imagine. The idea was put into my head to lose weight and do something for LMBBS to raise money, hence my first tandem parachute jump.

Losing weight has made such a difference to my life. I have gone from being a couch potato to having the confidence, with the help of my Parents, Rehabilitation Officer and Family Aides to live an active and independent life. As I have said ‘Who needs sight to achieve your ambitions’.