Member Appreciation Highlight: James

13/02/2024

Member Appreciation Highlight: James

James is one of our regular customers at Amman Valley Leisure Centre who visits to swim twice a week with his carer Derek.

Together they are a bit of a fundraising powerhouse! James is in a wheelchair and is blind, he has limited use of his right arm.

Last year, over the course of a few months James and Derek did the distance of an IronMan Triathlon. This consisted of a 2.4-mile swim in the pool, before cycling the 112-mile bike leg and lastly a 26.2-mile run on a hand bike. This challenge raised funds to buy a power assisted hand bike for Bikeability Wales so that hand cycling is more accessible to the wider community.

Now, James has set another challenge by swimming the distance of the English Channel in blocks of 22 – 28 lengths - London to Paris side by-side fundraising challenge 23 -24.

To date (as on 2nd November 2023) James has swum 976 Lengths = just over 15 miles in the pool over 46 sessions!

They are doing all this to raise money for Maggies Cancer Support and Bikeability Wales.

Derek told us: "James spent the first six months of his life in the special care baby unit in Singleton hospital, he wasn't blind from birth but lost his sight when having an operation for a shunt. James has lived his life mostly in a wheelchair and has to have the right facilities so that he can access the community and live an inclusive life as an active member of his community.

"Since COVID James has not had a service at Coleshill in Llanelli where he was supported to pass his food hygiene certificate and volunteer in the main kitchen for a half day each week. He had planned to do a basic food preparation certificate but this is now on hold as we work towards getting into a bespoke kitchen area where he can continue his lifelong learning. Since being told Coleshill was no longer available for him we have been exploring and finding other options, we are thankful for three churches locally who have welcomed James with open arms. We are also thankful for all the staff at Coleshill where he is allowed to use the specialised facilities to use the bathroom, all the staff there are amazing.

"We are also thankful for the swimming pool staff at Llanelli, but especially for all at Ammanford pool where the disability changing area is up to date and the staff are so supportive towards James as he seeks to support others by fundraising.

"James now uses his right arm daily and the swimming and hand cycling is extremely beneficial."

Well done James and Derek! Good luck with the challenge, from everyone at Actif.

James & Derek