Following a serious ski accident in 1983 my mobility and energy levels were seriously compromised.
I became the Head Teacher of Parklands School in 1984 and was determined that the school should succeed. Deteriorating mobility and two failed back surgeries left me wheelchair bound. I could not get past the classroom doors because of the wheelchair. My challenge was how to ensure excellence for pupils and staff?
The old saying that, “necessity is the mother of invention”, was never truer; over time I developed a structured, sequential professional staff development programme which involved everyone. Living proof of its success was our inclusion on the HMI “Best Schools” List twice during my headship. The approach I created for developing leadership was a significant gift arising out of my disability.
I believe every challenge in life has within it opportunities to learn and grow, I see them as the gifts.
The beliefs we have of ourselves and what we can do can either empower or limit us.
In 1996 I attended a fantastic course in London. They offered a further course California. I really wanted to go but thought how would I manage on my own in a wheelchair? I dismissed the idea as it was too difficult.
The London course involved a Fire Walk. My mobility was limited to a few steps but with help I managed it. I was ecstatic!!!. I looked behind me to watch the next guy – a double amputee walk over the coals on his hands. I was gobsmacked!!!!
In that moment I asked myself – if he could do that, how often did I allow limiting beliefs to hold me back? I immediately booked to go on the course in America. I travelled on my own and had a fabulous time.. I’ve been on many trips abroad on my own since. I am so grateful to the nameless man who opened up my thinking and my world.