Review of 2012 and Looking Forward to 2013

January 1st saw the introduction of the new, secure, Blue badge.  On the 5th I appeared on BBC Look North (on behalf of Disabled Motoring UK) talking with Peter Levy about the changes and about enforcement of the scheme.  This involved getting to the studio in Leeds (somewhere I was already familiar with after my appearance on Radio Leeds in 2011).  I was mic’d up in the newsroom and positioned in front of a rack on wheels containing some equipment that looked like mixers, 2 small screens (one showing me and the other showing Peter in another studio) and on top of it all a camera and bright light, which managed to make the most of my shiny forehead!  The technician who had mic’d me up and made me comfortable appears in the clip as a hand in the background pretending to work.

January 8th saw the birth of my youngest Niece Phoebe, who I had in my arms within 30 minutes of her being born.  My memory is not great but I vividly remember that at home we had just sat down to a Sunday tea of chicken, rice and potato wedges when I got a call informing me that there had been complications during her birth and asking if I could get to the hospital.  When I arrived it turned out that Sarah, Phoebe’s Mum, was not well, though I never did find out the details of the problem.


In other news January saw me meeting Pan Aveyard, bag packing on my Birthday, the news that Mat Fleming was being put in for GCSE Maths 2 years early, Von’s car throwing a wobbly, Joe Fleming ending up in hospital with suspected broken ribs and my friend Liz Ellis speaking on BBC Radio Leeds.  I was also disappointed at not having been selected to be a torchbearer after being nominated and getting through the second round of selection, but found out that a distant cousin of mine (also a wheelchair user) was carrying the torch through Dewsbury which was cool.

February saw me at my first training session for the Olympics.  An orientation session hosted by Lord Coe and Eddie Izzard which was informative and entertaining.  This proved to be a challenge to get to as it was held at Wembley Arena and coincided with some of the worst snow seen in London, making a simple 10 mile journey take around 4 hours.  I was one of the lucky ones who managed to keep my car moving – I encountered rather a lot of BMW’s and Mercedes’ sliding and slithering around and unable to get up the hills, forcing everyone that could keep moving to have to weave among them.


One of the more positive aspects of that session was that it gave an idea of just exactly how many of us were involved, a chance to speak to some of them and provided a spark of excitement in anticipation of the Olympics.


February was the month of Grimsby YMCA’s annual Sleep Easy campaign and fundraising project.  I spent a night in Grimsby sleeping on the street with just some cardboard and lots of layers of clothing for comfort.  This was just one night and was incredibly difficult, I think at most I only actually slept for around 15 minutes and it was certainly an eye opener.


February also saw me start doing admin support in the fundraising office at Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale for 2 days/week.  This had come out of a conversation with my friend Sarah Firth who works there and (hopefully!) allowed the fundraisers and Sarah to be able to spend more time doing what they’re best at and less time doing admin tasks.  This also got me out of the house and interacting with people as well as improving my confidence at the realisation that I could still cope (after some 2/3 years away) with working in an office and be able to problem solve and from time to time even answer IT related questions.  This lasted right up to going away for the Olympics in June and the intention was to return to this after the Olympics, but life took a bit of a twist.

In other news for February, I took Libby to the library for the first time, something she loved and has enjoyed ever since, I attended my first (and last!) ever football match, watching Huddersfield Town get beaten by Sheffield Something on Valentines Day and I met and became friends with my “Brother from another Mother” Mark Winterbourne.


March came and brought with it fuel shortages and another bag pack for Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale.  At this session I was stationed by an exit of the supermarket with Amber, my friend Sarah Firth’s Daughter and we got talking about MS, what it is and how it happens etc and about the neurological system in general.  Something which Amber took in and later educated her Mum on.  That was deeply impressive to me and was an illustration of how much you can influence a child just by talking to them.


March was also the month Von passed her 3rd theory driving test which brought her another step closer to getting her license after so many years of being knocked back.

For me March also saw me at Stoke Mandeville stadium spending the weekend handcycling on track and out on the road with the guys and girls from the UK Handcycling Association.  This was a lot of fun but also a lot of hard work.

Aylesbury Vale-20120331-02024

In other news for March I managed to spill coffee on my beloved Kindle DX but also managed to strip it down and clean it all out and it survives to this day.  And I learned an important lesson when I failed to display my Blue badge whilst parked in Huddersfield and had to ask Kirklees Council to withdraw a parking ticket, something they agreed to do but weren’t obliged to do.

April was Gadget Show Live in Birmingham with Mat Fleming, this was pretty amazing and gave me a chance to drool over lots of lovely gadgets and then watch a live show featuring some amazing acts like Laserman and Addictive TV.

This was also the month I decided to trial Windows 8 on my laptop and then, shortly after installing it, wondered what I’d done.  I soon got used to it though and quickly grew to like it, despite the oft-complained about “split personality”.

April also saw the inaugural #CostaPosse meet up.  I have some amazing friends – Liz Ellis, Mark and Elaine Winterbourne and Sarah Firth and we decided to get together at Costa Coffee in Greengates, Bradford.  The main link between us all is Cancer but when we’re together we laugh and laugh and laugh.  More details of the #CostaPosse are in my post titled “Special Friends”.

This was a busy month for Libby too when she started Karate, graded to White belt and took part in her first tournament.

In other news I got my shifts for the Olympics and got a scare when Libby collapsed on the kitchen floor in front of me, which saw me panicking and frantically trying to get hold of Von and then calling an Ambulance.

May saw another training session for the Olympics which introduced me to my car, a BMW 320d ED, and also to radio communications and the associated protocols as well as a bit of customer service and road safety.  After these I was then allowed to get behind the wheel and after a bit of familiarisation with the car and navigation system headed out onto the streets of London for assessment with a driving examiner.  Thankfully I passed with full marks for safety and a few pointers such as checking the inside mirror when turning left for cyclists.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATower Hamlets-20120513-02105

May also saw me say goodbye to my beloved BlackBerry when I upgraded to my HTC One X Android phone, which was a massive leap over the BlackBerry in terms of functionality and ease of use.  This was very kindly set up for me by the ever-knowledgeable Pan Aveyard at his free social media and Android drop-in.

In June Joe Fleming managed to get a job with his first interview after leaving school.  He had printed off several copies of his CV and handed them out at various shops in Dewsbury and got an interview, turned up dressed smartly and got the job.

I battled my fear of heights when I got harnessed up and hooked to a wire to zip slide from the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle.  This was 750 feet from the bridge crossing the river to land on the bank at the other side and was done the day after Bear Grylls had taken the Olympic flame down the same line.  This was in aid of Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale and required my good friend Sarah Firth to firmly tell me I was doing it and had no choice after I got on the parapet of the bridge and then announced I couldn’t do it.  I did do it, am glad I did and will be doing it again.


June also brought another Olympic training session.  This time it was venue-specific and so I took me to the ExCel centre in London which was to be my base depot for sessions covering depot procedures, vehicle checks, checking in and out of car keys, radios and paperwork and health and safety around the depot.  There was also information around security and access to the depot and I was given a VAP to allow my own car to access the depot and was allocated a parking space.  For the rest of the day we hit the road to familiarise ourselves with the routes we would be using.  I had passengers in my car from the Metro newspaper who were writing a feature about the Transport team and in particular about the 2 disabled drivers based at our depot, being me and Graham Day.

2012-06-22 13.09.172012-06-22 10.38.28

In other news Libby graded to Yellow belt in Karate and I collected my Olympic uniform.

July was a busy month, beginning with Von managing to fall while ice skating and doing herself some serious damage.  It initially looked as though she might have a spinal injury but a few hours later it turned out she’d broken her scaphoid, a small bone near the thumb.


The biggest news from July was Von passing her practical driving test, finally!  I was sat by Gatwick airport in London in my Olympic BMW when the message came through and I reckon the scream would probably have been heard in Yorkshire.

557496_10150918227957723_2026732328_n 622816_10150918233307723_1085448388_o

And in July I started my Olympic driving duties.  My first shift, driving that car out of the depot and onto the streets “properly” made me feel proud, though nervous at what to expect.  Those nerves soon turned to boredom though when it transpired that demand for the service had been over-anticipated.  During one shift a bunch of us were sent up from the depot in the basement of ExCel into the main area and allowed to watch some of the sport.  I ended up watching some fencing which was fun.


After my first shift I headed from London straight to Birmingham where Jodi Picoult and her Daughter Samantha van Leer were doing a talk and book signing of their first co-authored book Between the Lines.  This was the second time I’d met Jodi and being in a lecture theatre the stage was down some steep stairs.  Jodi and Samantha came up to meet me and sign books and Jodi made a nice comment about my Olympic uniform.

396662_10150892417532723_375751752_n 561412_10150892415162723_636941932_n

In July Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale held their annual Moonlight Walk event for ladies.  I volunteered to help and acted as “emergency” driver carrying first aider Aimee Vonstra-Edwards.  During this and whilst following the ladies one of them became exhausted and became a passenger.  I was trying to shout encouragement to the rest still taking part.  It was a very successful and enjoyable event and there was a great atmosphere.

Back to the Olympics, The Times newspaper did a feature on 3 of the Games Makers and I was one of them.  This involved an interview with one of their writers and a photoshoot session at Tower Bridge Studio, the first time I’ve had a professional photoshoot and the first time I’ve worn make up!  I was very impressed at the way the photos turned out though.

524019_10150934076562723_56367937_n 527476_10150934077572723_764190369_n524372_10150935551687723_1479659189_n

In other news Libby made us proud with her SAT results and her acting as Nancy in the school production of Oliver and I confronted a man acting bizarrely on our street, parking his car and watching kids playing then driving round the corner, parking again, putting on a hat to cover his face and walking round the street.  That was also reported to the Police and thankfully he hasn’t appeared again.

August saw me in hospital after going to A&E in lots of pain and being admitted.  Not a great time but made better by visits from family and a surprise visit from the the #CostaPosse Sarah, Mark and Liz, who I understand had some fun of their own trying to find the ward and confusing the nurses.  High point of that stay and what made me laugh through the pain was being told by one of the nurses that I was “well equipped”.

September came and with it a new job, working as an IT contractor at Rotherham Hospital, I just can’t stay away from the places lol.  It was quite possibly very well timed though as I wasn’t in a good place mentally at the time

September also brought 2 thank you letters just days apart.  1 from Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale thanking me for my efforts over the few months I was there and 1 from David Cameron that was a thank you to all the Games Makers for their efforts during the Olympics.

CSBA Thank You Letter Edited PM Thank You Letter

And being September it was time for the DMUK Awards.  This was a fab and successful event with examples of great things being done by and for disabled people and showcased some wonderful achievements.  I was particularly pleased to be reunited with an old friend – a certain 1932 Argson mobility trike which has been restored by Twisted Mind Custom Motorcycles and also to meet and talk with Sue Marsh who, along with Kaliya Franklin, received the Denny Denly award in recognition of their work on producing the Spartacus report which forced the Government to rethink some of their welfare reforms.  Sue is a lovely lady who was so modest and it was great to meet her.


In other news, Libby successfully got through another Karate tournament and I was named as the first “champion” of the Great Yorkshire Stair Climb.

October was all about In the Pink.  My awesome friend Sarah who works at Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale had set herself a challenge to wear something Pink every day of October and to have at least 10 photos taken out in public places.  Now at first this might sound easy but when she mentioned about how it made her feel, really self-conscious and nervous, it becomes clear that it wasn’t quite that easy.  Sarah got donations of all sorts of items of clothing in Pink including wigs and even had a Pink car to use for the month.  Could she be any more conspicuous!  Sarah did an amazing job and pulled it off magnificently.


October also saw my first visit to Top Gear Live, which I loved and the full release of Windows 8 which, after having trialled it, I upgraded to whilst away in a hotel.

In November my friend Pan Aveyard finally managed to jump out of a plane.  This was supposed to have happened in July but the skydive people had to rearrange due to the weather, then it was supposed to be September but I had a job to go to so had to rearrange.  So it finally happened, on a cold but dry and clear day this brave (mad) man went up in a plane, which is bad enough, and then jumped out of it.  Thankfully he made it back to earth safely and in so doing raised lots of cash for Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale.  Respect.

416970_10151066955632723_1128271097_n 409093_10151066958397723_1831098991_n

November held a challenge for me as well in the form of the Great Yorkshire Stairclimb.  This event involved climbing up the stairs inside Yorkshire’s tallest building, Bridgewater Place in Leeds.  There are 522 stairs and I believe I may be the only wheelchair user in the world to have completed such a challenge and am possibly the only wheelchair user ever to have been on the roof of this building.

616357_10151092225007723_2096577926_o 703955_10151092216547723_1730667315_o 598442_10151306066066422_1913625387_n

In a moment of fun November brought me my first ever taste of race car driving on a track.  Organised by ST Accessible Motorsport and using their race prepared Volvo S60 with 240bhp and which can be quickly adapted to be driven by people with a wide range of disabilities.  This was a huge amount of fun and after telling Von about it it sounds like she’ll be up for a go at a future session.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 616135_553161821377542_54188345_o 665871_553161718044219_1226657492_o

November also saw me arranging my big challenge for 2013.  I signed up to take part in the Edinburgh 5K wheelchair race and the day after the Edinburgh marathon.  Then was told by the organisers that I wasn’t allowed to take part in the marathon as they don’t allow wheelchairs in.  There then followed almost a month of discussion while they tried to find a valid excuse for not allowing me to take part.  The details of that are in my post titled “The Challenge is to be Accepted for the Challenge”.

December started with Gadget Show Live @ Christmas at the ExCel centre and it sure was strange seeing it in civilian guise after having been based there during the Olympics.  The exhibition wasn’t as good as at Birmingham and was a lot smaller but the show was fab.

And December entailed getting ready for Christmas.  Decorating the house, wrapping gifts and writing cards.  Catching up with friends and family.

I was also asked by Dilwyn Price to be best man at his wedding to my Mum in May next year which was a shock but in a nice way.

We spent Christmas Day at my Mum’s in Wales which was nice and relaxing and made it more enjoyable than usual.

Looking forward to 2013….

2013 already has a challenge arranged in the form of the Edinburgh wheelchair race and marathon and I will be starting training for that shortly and starting on a diet too.  May is going to be a busy month with my Mum’s wedding on the 4th in Wales, the DMUK AGM in Glasgow on the 18th and the Edinburgh events on the 25th and 26th.

The Challenge is to be Accepted for The Challenge

Some of you might know I enjoy a challenge.  Something to push me, to take physical limitations and see what I can do with them.  Some of these challenges have hopefully made people think about what I and perhaps they are capable of.  Maybe think about what limitations are imposed on them and where those limitations come from – whether that be from within or from external sources.  I have been told by a few people that some of what I’ve done is inspirational and that’s awesome – the thought that something you do can have an impact on someone else is mind-blowing.

Now usually when I sign up for or arrange these challenges it’s relatively straightforward.  I follow whatever process is in place and fill out paperwork etc, hand over whatever details are requested and sometimes have a chat with someone about any adaptations that might be needed to allow me to participate.  That last bit can be essential for reasons of health and safety or just to make life easier for either me or for other people and it’s not something I mind in the slightest – I would much rather people ask me than make assumptions or guess and get it wrong.  So that’s all easy and then at the allotted time I turn up, do the necessary (hopefully successfully). have some fun and meet some amazing people, tire myself out and then go home again.  Sometimes there are interviews with press and TV or radio people as well.

In this modern age disabled people can be seen all over the place.  We work, we have relationships, we socialise and we do sport and so on.  Basically just living a modern lifestyle based around our interests, same as everyone else.  We have this year had a fantastic time for sport in particular with the Paralympics being a lot more visible than ever before and according to research changing a lot of opinions among members of the public towards disabled people.

So imagine my shock when, given the above, I signed up to take part in the 2013 Edinburgh Marathon and then the next day signed up to do the Edinburgh 5K wheelchair race being held the day before the marathon and, after receiving emails confirming my entries had been accepted I then received one telling me I wasn’t allowed to take part in the marathon as they didn’t allow wheelchairs onto the course.  Here’s how it went…..

From: Lady at GSI Events
Sent: ‎29‎ ‎November‎ ‎2012 ‎09‎:‎46
Subject: Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2013

Hi Daniel

I was just having a look at your entry for next year and noticed that you have entered both the standard marathon and the 5k wheelchair race? Could you confirm which race you wish to take part in (the full marathon doesn’t have a wheelchair option)?
Many thanks
And my reply to that was:
From: Daniel Anderson-McIntyre
Sent: ‎29‎ ‎November‎ ‎2012 ‎09‎:‎53
To: Lady at GSI Events
Subject: RE: Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2013
Hi xxxxxxx,

I was hoping to do both.  I am a wheelchair user and there’s nothing on the marathon page about wheelchairs being excluded.Dan McIntyre

So the next contact I had was with another lady whose signature says she’s an events manager, this is what she had to say:
From: Lady 2 from GSI Events
Sent: ‎29‎ ‎November‎ ‎2012 ‎10‎:‎21
Subject: Edinburgh Marathon Festival

Hi Daniel,

I’ve been passed your email from the marketing team.  Thanks for your interest in the Edinburgh Marathon.  Unfortunatley there is not a marathon wheelchair race.  UKA rules state that any wheelchair or handbike race must be separate from a running race and due to the road closure timing restrictions we are not able to facilitate a wheelchair or handbike race for the half or full marathons.  We do not have the same restrictions for the 5K race.
I am sorry that we are not able to offer the marathon race however I hope that you enjoy the 5k race on the Saturday.
Many thanks, 

So I got hold of an up-to-date copy of the UK Athletics regs and read them top to bottom paying particular attention to the sections on road races and the amendments for disabled participants.  Finding nothing to corroborate what this lady had told me I responded
From: Daniel Anderson-McIntyre
Sent: ‎30‎ ‎November‎ ‎2012 ‎10‎:‎24
To: Lady 2, Lady 1 at GSI
Subject: RE: Edinburgh Marathon Festival
Hi there,

Having read the UKA rules for road races and the rule amendments for disability athletics (rules 201-215 and rules D206-D212) I am unable to find anything to corroborate your comment “UKA rules state that any wheelchair or handbike race must be separate from a running race”.  I wonder if you could point this rule out to me?
Dan McIntyre
And the reply I got was:
From: Lady 2
Sent: ‎30‎ ‎November‎ ‎2012 ‎14‎:‎54
To: Daniel Anderson-McIntyre
CC: Lady 1
Subject: Re: Edinburgh Marathon Festival

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for your email.  I have spent some time going through the rules this morning and you are completely correct – it doesn’t need to be a separate race just a separate category.  We start hand bike and wheelchair athletes at the front of the race so that there are not wheelchairs or hand bikes interspersed in a mass of runners reducing the risk of injury to all participants.  The 5k has a lane designated so that on the downhill section where the wheelchair and hand bike participants generally reach higher speeds.
Due to health and safety issues, we can’t allow a wheelchair category in the full marathon however I can investigate this for the half marathon further.  Can you let me know if you are interested in racing in the half marathon and if you are what time you would expect to complete the race in, that you would be racing in a self propelled wheelchair and the spec of this wheelchair (for example standard or racer).
Thanks Daniel,
Now this was really annoying as it makes assumptions about responsibility and control, basically says I would be a health and safety risk and also attempts to persuade me to enter a lesser event.  So my response to this was terse:
From: Daniel Anderson-McIntyre
Sent: ‎04‎ ‎December‎ ‎2012 ‎10‎:‎19
To: Lady 2
CC: Lady 1
Subject: RE: Edinburgh Marathon Festival
Lady 2 and Lady 1,

No, I am not interested in taking part in a half marathon.  If I had been then I would have entered and paid for that event.
I have registered and paid to enter the marathon and the 5K.  At the time of entry (and, having just checked, still) there is nothing in the event details to say that I may not do this.  Looking at the terms and conditions again there is nothing that says I cannot and in fact the terms and conditions state that the only wheeled devices allowed on the course are wheelchairs.
So far you have quoted a non-existent UKA regulation to me and now you are trying to use “health and safety issues” as an excuse for not allowing me to participate.  This is beginning to sound like deliberate obstruction aimed directly at a disabled person.
This was met with an out of office message advising people with queries to contact several other names, so I forwarded the above to all the addresses given.  Over a week later I had still had no response so followed it up with:
From: Daniel Anderson-McIntyre
Sent: ‎12‎ ‎December‎ ‎2012 ‎12‎:‎36
To:  Lady 1, Lady 2, Several other team members
Subject: FW: Edinburgh Marathon Festival
Hi there,

8 days after the below I have not had any response.  Would someone kindly let me know what the plan is moving forward?
The last contact I had was on Facebook when someone asked me to message them, which I did.  The reply I received was “Thanks Dan” which is no use to anyone.
Am I to be allowed to participate in these events or not?  If yes then please say so and if not please arrange for a refund of all fees paid and I will contact a solicitor.  
I would appreciate a response by close of play today.
Now whether it was the mention of a solicitor that did it or not I don’t know but 7 minutes later I received the following:
From: Lady 2
Sent: ‎12‎ ‎December‎ ‎2012 ‎12‎:‎43
To: Daniel Anderson-McIntyre
Subject: Re: FW: Edinburgh Marathon Festival

Hi Daniel,

Apologies for the delay in responding to you, we have been chatting to Run Britain and the race director to come up with some guidelines and what would be required to accommodate wheelchair athletes on the marathon course.
If you can bear with me until early next week so that I can fully respond with all the information.  It would probably be easier to give you a call, would you be able to give me the most convenient number to call you on and we can chat through it early next week?
Now this is starting to sound more positive but I prefer to keep things like this to written communications.  Telephone calls are not only painful for me but are a great tactic often used by managers in order to avoid gathering of evidence.  With this in mind I waited for them to come back to me via email with more info.  After waiting until the back end of the following week I got back in touch with them:
From: Daniel Anderson-McIntyre
Sent: ‎19‎ ‎December‎ ‎2012 ‎22‎:‎06
To: Lady 2
Subject: RE: Edinburgh Marathon Festival
Hi Lady 2,

It’s now late next week and I’ve heard nothing.  This has been going on for almost a month now and is becoming ridiculous.  I really must push for a resolution asap.  Not only is this getting extremely annoying but I also need to make plans as the intention is to fundraise for a Cancer support charity through this event, a JustGiving page was created when I received the confirmation email and has already had donations.
I find it difficult to understand what the problem is and why GSI Events seems intent on excluding disabled participants, particularly given the sporting achievements we have seen this summer.
I wonder what view the Edinburgh News and BBC Edinburgh would take…?
And very quickly I received a response, sent from her iPhone no less:
From: Lady 2
Sent: ‎19‎ ‎December‎ ‎2012 ‎22‎:‎44
To: Daniel Anderson-McIntyre
Subject: Re: Edinburgh Marathon Festival
Hi Daniel,
I tried to call you on the number that you gave us on our system however it just rang but was going to try again in morning as it was quite late on Monday and Tuesday I called. 
Basically I’ve spoken with the race director and he doesn’t see an issue but there is a section of the course later on that I wanted to just alert you to as its not Tarmac, it’s a gravel surface, we fill in any large holes but it was just to say its not as good a surface as normal roads. As long as you’re fine with that then we don’t see any issue. Was going to ask as well if you plan to have someone with you as you complete the race? 
Will try you again in the morning if you want to chat anything through.
Best wishes,
Lady 2Sent from my iPhone

And my response (after heaving a sigh of relief and wondering why they didn’t just do this in the first place) was:
From: Daniel Anderson-McIntyre
Sent: ‎20‎ ‎December‎ ‎2012 ‎08‎:‎34
To: Lady 2
Subject: RE: Edinburgh Marathon Festival
Lady 2,

Thank you.  The gravel shouldn’t be a problem and I may have my Fiancee with me but I’m not sure at the moment.
And after this the entire tone of the communications changed.  I don’t know whether anyone had “had a word” with this lady or what but she’s suddenly become very helpful:
From: Lady 2
Sent: ‎20‎ ‎December‎ ‎2012 ‎12‎:‎06
To: Daniel Anderson-McIntyre
Subject: Re: Edinburgh Marathon Festival

Hi Dan,

Just tried to give you another call but no answer, just checking that I have the correct number xxxxxxxx269?
Anyway glad that the gravel won’t cause you any issues.  It all sounds very romantic completing a marathon together but hard work!! 
If you need to chat anything through or ask any questions then just ask, my number is xxxx xxx xxxx or you can email me, whatever suits you.
Good luck with the training and Merry Christmas when it comes.
Best wishes, 

So she got the wrong end of the stick about my meaning but when I pointed that out I got another surprise:
From: Daniel Anderson-McIntyre
Sent: ‎20‎ ‎December‎ ‎2012 ‎12‎:‎27
To: Lady 2
Subject: RE: Edinburgh Marathon Festival
Hi Lady 2,

The number is correct I just can’t answer as I’m at work.  My fiancee won’t be doing the marathon with me, I’m hoping she’ll be there to see the start and end and also transport my normal wheelchair between the 2 points.
Thanks – Dan
And the surprising and helpful bit:
From: Lady 2
Sent: ‎20‎ ‎December‎ ‎2012 ‎12‎:‎45
To: Daniel Anderson-McIntyre
Subject: Re: Edinburgh Marathon Festival


Ok no problem.  Give me a shout nearer the time and I’ll get a parking space sorted out nearby for her to go to.
So all’s well that ends well and I am able to make this my big challenge for 2013, but why does it feel like it’s been a challenge already and why, in this day and age, should that have been?

Adapted Driving for the 2012 Olympics

Let me take you back to 2010.  I’m 33 and have been off work on long term sickness for over a year and am not expected to return anytime soon.  I’m spending the majority of my time at home trying to figure out what to do, where to go from here.

Not long after, I spot an advert in Mobilise Magazine by LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) looking for volunteer disabled drivers who could drive specially adapted BMW cars.

I applied for the position and a few months later I received an email inviting me to a selection event to be held at Salford Quays in Manchester.

The selection event proved to be entertaining and informative, with the interview being very basic and conducted by another volunteer, which helped me relax and enjoy the conversation.

Fast forward a few more months (during which I take part in DMUK’s Alps Challenge among other things) to October 2011 when I received an email telling me that I had been accepted as a Games Maker for the Olympics.  I was amazed to have been selected; by that point over 250,000 people had applied and only 70,000 were selected.  I was to be a T3 driver based at the Fleet Depot ExCel in London.  Of course none of that meant anything to me at the time.

My first training session was in February 2012 and it was an orientation session held at Wembley Arena.  Over the course of the weekend, there were four of these sessions with around 15,000 people attending each one.  The session was hosted by Eddie Izzard andSebastian Coe and provided an overview of what would be expected of us.

The adapted BMW 3 Series car that Dan was provided with to transport VIPs and dignitaries around London

In May it was time for another training session, and this was a biggie as I would actually be getting my hands on the car I’d be driving. I was a bit nervous as we also had a driving instructor travelling.

At this session I found that the car I would be driving had only been imported to the UK and registered and adapted with an Alfred Bekker push/pull accelerator/brake and a steering knob the day before.  I also met Graham Day, another DMUK member and wheelchair user with whom I was to share the car.  Initially the car was issued the call-sign Charlie Zero Nine Nine (but which was changed later to Charlie Seven Eight Eight).  The session was fun and by the end of the day both Graham and I were assessed as safe to drive, which was a relief.

Then came July and it was time to work our first shifts.  Graham and I were given passes to allow us to bring our own cars right into the depot while we were on shift. The army were providing security and I found the soldiers incredibly friendly and helpful, as well as rigorous. When arriving for one shift I was questioned about my catheter and asked to explain what it was and what it was used for.  I struggled to keep a straight face as I explained its purpose, and the soldier turned a bright crimson before hurriedly thanking me and putting it back!

After all the hype and excitement that had built up over the past year or so, once on shift, it was a bit of a disappointment!  My first three shifts (each ten hours long) passed with nothing to do.  I ended up just cruising around London in a liveried BMW 3 series waiting for control to give me a job to do.

On my fourth shift I was stationed outside the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in Mayfair where the International Olympics Committee were having a meeting. I got my first passenger, a young gentleman who asked to be taken to the Hilton Hotel, Mayfair.

London 2012 Games Maker: Dan McIntyre

During that shift I needed to take a bathroom break and I had to ask radio control about toileting facilities.  It took almost thirty minutes to get a response informing me I needed to go to the Intercontinental Hotel, about half a mile away.  By the time I got that message I was in a lot of pain, but I managed to get my chair out and get into the hotel, where the staff proved to be extremely helpful.

My next three shifts passed with only one passenger on each shift, and for several hours during my eighth shift, a group of us were told we could go up into the main area of the ExCel centre and watch some of the events.  I chose to watch the Fencing which I surprisingly enjoyed!

At the end of that shift I arrived back at my accommodation and sat there thinking about how quiet my job had been. LOCOG admitted that they had over anticipated demand for the transport service. There were a lot of us sitting around either in the depot or out at venues or hotels for hours at a time bored and I began to feel homesick.  I made the decision to go home.  It wasn’t an easy decision to make as I felt I was letting people down, not least of all myself, but I felt it was something I had to do.

Packing my gear and loading the car, I set off back up the motorway and am so relieved that night when I pulled onto my own driveway.

While I felt disappointed that I didn’t complete the sixteen shifts I’d been schedule to do, I did do half of them which comes to some eighty plus hours, the equivalent of two working weeks. I did enjoy the experience and the chance to do some sightseeing and talk to lots of lovely people, both the other Games Makers and the public.  I’m glad I took part and the memories will remain with me for a long time.

Cancer, the 2012 Olympics, and A Little Determination

In February 2011 and, at the age of 34, I was told I was clear of cancer for the second time in my life.  A lot had changed in my life, both physically and mentally, and having shared and reflected on the news, I wondered, “So, now what?”

I had been working for the NHS up until December 2009, at which point I had gone on long-term sickness.  Due to the length of time I’d worked there I received four months full pay followed by four months of half pay and I then had to claim the much vaunted ESA (Employment and Support Allowance). I was offered the chance to resign from the NHS in exchange for a severance payment. They took great pains to stress that this was not redundancy but part of a cost-saving exercise! Having been away for so long, combined with various other issues I was facing there, I decided I really couldn’t face returning to such an environment so I took the money and ran.

However the “Now what?” question played on my mind. I had no job and very little energy… but with no immediate need to earn money I felt I could explore other options. I`ve always tried to help others and volunteering seemed to fit the bill (and it would be a chance to help out, gain new experiences and meet people without over committing myself given my condition at that time)

During the time I was off work (when energy levels and time allowed) I had written several articles and reviews for the magazine of Disabled Motoring UK, including one on employment issues facing disabled people. This led to being asked to give a presentation at a new event aimed at attracting younger members to the charity. I was asked to talk about preparing for employment, producing a CV and developing effective interview skills. I produced a handout for people to take away afterwards and, though nervous, took the stage. Afterwards, the Chief Executive of the organisation approached me to discuss an upcoming event that would promote the charity and raise awareness of issues facing disabled motorists. The event was the re-creation of the founders’ trip across the Swiss Alps on his 1938 mobility tricycle, and I was asked if I’d be interested in taking part. I jumped at the chance and in June 2011, The Alps Challenge took place!

It was on my return that I was elected onto the board of Trustees and joined the Membership committee, a position I still hold today. I regularly travel up and down the UK attending events and shows, occasionally assisting members with problems and I still write for the magazine and am working hard to continually attract new members.

Thanks to my participation in the Alps Challenge, I was nominated to be a Torchbearer during the Olympic Torch Parade! I made it through to the final round of selection and although I was ultimately unsuccessful, I felt honoured to have been nominated!

In March 2011, I was referred to the NHS’ Expert Patient Programme, which aims to educate people living with long-term conditions and help them to be more confident when dealing with health care professionals. The basic premise is that the person is the best expert when it comes to his or her own condition. This course is 6 weeks long and at the end, I felt I`d gained both in terms of confidence and knowledge! When the tutors explained that they were volunteers and asked if anyone else would like to volunteer, I eagerly signed up! I now look after NHS Kirklees’ Self Care Twitter and Facebook accounts. As trained tutor, I have already delivered one Expert Patient course.

At some point towards the end of 2011, I became aware (via Twitter) of a local cancer support charity named Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale. They required support at various events and in the fundraising office, so I offered to spend some time helping out. Friday January 13th 2012 (my 35th Birthday!) found me at a Morrison’s store in Bradford at a CSBA bag-packing event and I even signed up to do a zip slide from the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle on June 16th 2012 – quite why, I don’t know, but it seemed a good idea at the time!

Initially, I started providing admin support in the fundraising office for 3 hours on a Thursday and I now offer three hours on a Thursday and Friday there. I`ve learnt a lot in the past couple of months – this volunteering work keeps my brain active and I’m learning more about fundraising (I`d like to think my help is allowing the fundraisers to concentrate more on what they’re supposed to be doing as well!)

Continuing the voluntary theme, when Disabled Motoring UK mentioned that LOCOG (the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) was looking for several disabled drivers to volunteer to drive officials and athletes around during the Games, I jumped at the chance! I applied and, after an interview, was accepted! This should be a great chance to boost my confidence and make new friends.

During the Olympics, I had a brand new BMW 3 series saloon, adapted for me to drive. It had only just been delivered and registered when I got my hands on it and the only automatic car in the fleet of around 4000! What a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!