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West Midlands Paraclimbing Club

Courage

Resilience

Compassion

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Testimonials

David Bowes

David Bowes, Club Patron and GB Paraclimbing Team Captain.

Climbing means everything to me! It marked the stage in my life where I gained self confidence through putting on muscle, becoming a healthy size & weight and socialising at climbing walls. It’s how I met some great lifelong friends who still mean a great deal to me. It’s how I rehabbed my body, brain and mental health after a debilitating and life changing motorbike crash over a decade ago. And once again, after using it to finally overcome the brain injury’s most crippling symptoms, it’s given me passion for life and for exercise again.

It builds me up in so many ways. For a start you get the fantastic blend of happy hormones that accompany exercise with the rewarding brain chemical release when you conquer a problem or route. Then there are those wonderful hormones that release when you socialise and the general contentment from being a valued member in a group of peers. I feel great for sorting my life out and using it to overcome disability, I love how when I’m on the wall it’s pure enjoyment, even when it’s through strained muscles and gritted teeth. The beads or even pools of sweat remind me that I’m doing something great for my body. My brain appreciates the challenge of deciphering problematic climbs by working out the beta. And, as you will hear from many a climber, I always feel at home walking into any climbing centre in the world, although walking into new centres brings it own form of excited anticipation for exploring new climbs. Climbing rocks and thanks to climbing, I now rock too!!

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Sophie's Testimony

I love being part of such a warm, welcoming and inspiring group of people. Through the development of WMPC I have witnessed the enabling of others to explore their forgotten aspirations in a safe and nurturing environment. People have found themselves again after trauma and suffering by realising there is still so much hope by learning to practice self compassion. Slowly under our guidance they can challenge themselves physically once more and feel a huge sense of achievement. It is a true gift to be involved in someone's recovery.

Sophie climbing outside
Tigs and his son Thomas

Tigs' Testimony

I have suffered with chronic pain and mental health problems for 4 decades due to complex PTSD as a result of developmental trauma. I have tried many things to relieve me from my suffering both emotional and physical. My wife has seen me climb when it has been difficult for me to walk. When I climb my mind is so focussed on my survival and not falling that it seems impossible for my body to also tell me how much pain I am in. It has been a very slow process for me to rebuild the muscles and mobility required for basic day to day activities and regain independence in areas of my life, a huge part of this has been thanks to climbing and the patient friends I climb with.

Freddy swamped by a boldering mat backpack

Freddy's Testimony

The West Midlands Paraclimbing Club welcomed me and my sister in February 2018, and taught us how to climb effectively and efficiently. They also taught my Dad how to belay so that he can take us whenever we want to go. The club have pushed me to climb silently, climb blindfolded, use a variety of different holds that I didn’t know existed and I have demonstrated my skills to other members and potential members. I have seen lots of different people with various disabilities climbing and loving the experience and there is always time for tea and cake.

Freddy climbing outside
Tigs' daughter, Esme, climbing outside

Climbing is out of this world!

It is difficult to explain what it is like when climbing with Daddy and Sophie. It feels like we are in a completely different world, as we are so focused on all the things we are being taught. Even though our Daddy is disabled he is really good at teaching climbing and taking care of people. Sophie is kind and gentle and makes our extraordinary climbing adventures so much fun. Climbing has helped us over-come some of our fears. We will remember all of our climbing adventures forever. They are the only people we would want to climb with. Climbing is an amazing sport. If you haven’t done it, definitely have a go.
Thomas, Oliver and Esme.

Tigs' son, Oliver climbing outside

Katherine's Testimony

When I began climbing with WMPC I instantly felt comfortable and accepted. In the few weeks I have been climbing with them my technique and confidence has improved massively. For me, climbing allows me to forget how hard I find day to day activities that everyone seems to do with ease and relax, it has become a vital part of my routine. Everyone in the group accepts you for who you are, I can sit and listen during breaks and not be judged for not taking part in the conversation. WMPC is a truly inclusive group and I would encourage you to have a go if you aren't sure.

Katherine climbing at Redpoint Birmingham
Charlotte climbing at Redpoint Birmingham

Charlotte's Testimony

Over the last few years I have struggled with the diagnosis of a chronic pain condition. I found that my confidence really took a knock and I stopped doing a lot of things because I was scared of the pain it might cause me. Joining WMPC has totally changed my outlook. I have enjoyed climbing so much and it has also given me back a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities. If I am having a bad day with my pain there is no pressure to climb and I can just relax and enjoy the company (and cake!) instead. Sophie and Tigs have been the most brilliant and understanding teachers and friends. I really cannot recommend WMPC enough!

Kam's Testimony

I have a real sense of freedom and space when climbing. It makes me feel enlightened to have the strength and hope to believe the impossible is possible. It doesn’t matter if you reach the top, it is acknowledging each step is its own individual achievement. Being part of the WMPC gives me a great sense of joy and I feel privileged, to see other's smiles return as their confidence blossoms. (Image Summit of Cho-Oyu 8201 Metres)

Kam at the summit of Cho-Oyu
Chris climbing at Redpoint Birmingham

Chris' Testimony

When I started climbing with Tigs and Sophie at Redpoint climbing centre in Birmingham, I actually forgot I was missing a leg, as I was putting all my concentration and energy into the climb in front of me. I just used all of the new techniques and balance to work my way through the different routes we tried. It was so exciting to be doing something active again and being part of a team. I was given the opportunity of responsibility immediately through learning how to belay other climbers in the club.

Mary's Testimony

I don't think there are words to describe how much WMPC means to me. Since joining I've made so many friends and learnt so much- both in terms of climbing and managing a chronic condition. I've become stronger (physically and mentally), more flexible and achieved things I never thought I could. Even though on a few occasions I've not climbed for weeks or months at a time, I never feel left out or forgotten about. It has been great to meet others with similar conditions to myself as they understand the symptoms like no one else can, but I've also enjoyed meeting other people with a variety of different conditions and learning about how they overcome their own challenges. I am so grateful to be part of WMPC as they've given me so many wonderful opportunities and experiences.

Mary climbing at Windgather in the Peak District
Katy with her mum, Sophie and Amy at Redpoint Birmingham

Katy's Testimony

You would be forgiven for thinking quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy wouldn’t be compatible with rock climbing, especially given my lack of coordination and control over my body. However, I don’t think WMPC have “can’t” in their vocabulary. From my first climb, they believed I could do it and their encouragement has seen me reach the top every time. Climbing is a great leveller. It doesn’t matter that I use my body in a different way to someone else, it works the way I need it to to get me to the top.
My body frequently lets me down and consequently, I’m no stranger to frustration. Through rock climbing I’m learning the only way to reach the top is to work with my body and what it CAN do, which has enabled me to have a positive connection with my body for the first time. I am also much stronger and have fewer falls since I started climbing.
When I’m climbing I get to points where I can’t see any options. Just as I start panicking I try one more push in my legs or arms and suddenly the situation is totally different and I have loads of different paths I can take. Reaching the top feels possible again. I’m trying to remember this when things get tough in daily life. In fact the last few months have been really challenging for me mentally and knowing I’m going climbing at the end of the week has given me something to look forward to. Whilst I’m on the wall there’s no space in my head to think about what’s troubling me.
I’ve felt totally accepted in WMPC and really value the friendships I have made there. I look forward to pushing myself further with their support.

Katy climbing at Redpoint Birmingham
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Redpoint's Endorsement

Tigs, Sophie and the WMPC are passionate about climbing and the benefits of involvement. Redpoint are proud to be supporting the WMPC and their quest to making climbing as inclusive as possible.
Climbing promotes team work, builds an individual's confidence and develops personal skills that can be utilised in all areas of life. It is particularly accessible for people with SEN because it is adaptable and does not require full motor function whilst enabling the climber to achieve and succeed at their own pace.
With climbing, the challenge is personal rather than competitive. It offers the opportunity to engage with people outside of their normal day to day lives. Participants have the chance to develop new transferable skills such as problem solving, overcoming personal challenges and building trust in their peers whilst creating positive individual outcomes.

The Redpoint team
John Churcher

John's Endorsement

Since taking up the sport of climbing it has taken me to places that I would never have imagined, whilst representing my country as a member of the GB Paraclimbing Team. The concentration required whilst climbing a route means that I cannot focus on anything else, so therefore I am not thinking about my disabilities and what I cannot do. With the help of a sight guide I am able to climb the same routes as non-disabled climbers. It is always a sense of achievement upon reaching the top of a route or boulder problem, knowing that it is 'me' that has got myself to the top. It is such a good way of keeping fit, you get a full body and mind workout. It doesn't matter what your disability is, there is a route out there for everyone, regardless of whether you are a beginner or are returning to the sport. I definitely recommend that you give it a go, you never know where it might take you.

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