Cambridge University Rugby Club PowerHouseGames 2021

The smiles, the laughter, the cheers – it was so good after 18 months of Covid-19 induced inactivity, to be back in the Cambridge University Sports Centre’s main hall – basking in its size; back with student rugby players, embarking on a year when the Varsity Matches will take place in April on a Saturday; and back with our friends. Wow, it was special!

Our friends came from all quarters.  First our wonderful sponsors for the event – PEM.  PEM are the leading independent firm of accountants, tax and business advisers based in Cambridge, and were the sponsors of our first PowerHouseGames in 2018. They are great friends and completely undermine any stereotypical image of accountants – these guys are fun, caring and anything but boring!

As we had missed a year, only a few of the rugby players had experienced a PowerHouseGames before, so there was some trepidation. But the 13 men and 11 women (there was a little last minute juggling to make the 24) soon were at ease, helping the disabled students bed in to their teams and leading the touch rugby sessions.  Though they held back in the rugby, I received reports that the walking football became quite competitive!

Centre stage were the Castle School students. I take my hat off to them. These young people often do not get out much in ordinary times; add in Covid-19 and quite a number have not been out at all for 18 months. To come to a large sports complex with 60 people and the lights, it was really intimidating. They did so well, even those who joined in sporadically.  As you can see from some of the photos, they really enjoyed it.

Impington Village College and Felsted School are experienced participants though these year groups had never been before.  Maya, the teacher from Impington, was so enthusiastic she joined in and loved it.

The games are all accessible. The feedback showed the games were liked pretty equally across the board.  As this version was hosted by the University Rugby Club, we included Touch Rugby.  Alex Laybourne, our not-so-new deputy CEO, was experiencing his first PowerHouseGames over a year into his role, and as an international rugby coach, was tasked with supervising the Touch Rugby.  He demonstrated his skills by delegating the coaching to the rugby players – after all in this company they are all experts!  It was great to see them work out how to teach youngsters with limited knowledge of the game and varying abilities, and in doing so grow in confidence.  It also allowed Alex to post lots of messages on social media.  Excellent work.

I love the colours of the t-shirts – a big shout out for Silver Screen Studio – which create teams and break these youngsters away from their schools.  I love the squeals and shouts as a good shot, run, pass or stone (new age kurling is very exciting) explode.  I love the joy on the faces as everyone receives a certificate.  And I love the fact that Leila Ong, a veteran now, can still say:

“The games were fantastic last week. Boccia was my favourite station!”

And there is great news for more PowerHouseGames.  At the Cambridge University Sports Fair 15 clubs showed interest in being involved.  Some of the clubs will be grouped, so for example we will have a rackets PowerHouseGames.  Exciting times indeed, just the tonic as we come out of Covid into the new post-pandemic world.  If your school or company would like to be involved, please get in touch.

To finish we should leave it to one of the rugby players:

“Helped me see what sports can do for disabled people in bringing joy and friendships”.

Inspired? Then Get Involved!

Would your university sports team, or school love to be involved in a PowerHouseGames? Could your company support our mission by volunteering at one of our PowerHouseGames? If so, then we would love to hear from you. We are also always looking out for people willing to fundraise for Power2Inspire through their own inspiring means. Or, you could volunteer individually at one of our events, or you could give to the ongoing work of Power2Inspire. There are SO MANY WAYS we can all help to ensure “no on else is left on the bench!” Click the button here to find out more.

John Willis

CEO & Founder, Power2Inspire


SuperSensory 1K 2021

Oh, it was good to be back! After Covid-19 caused the cancellation of the 2020 Histon Running Festival and therefore our SuperSensory Inclusive Kilometre; and the postponement, twice, of the 2021 version, it was a great thrill to hold it on Sunday 26th September.

But what, you cry, is a SuperSensory Inclusive Kilometre? Our SS1K (for short) is a walk, run or wheel around the one-kilometre course created for the Histon Running Festival at the recreation ground, with the added attraction of five sensory stations pitched along the way. The five senses being smell, sight, touch, hearing and taste – we erected a gazebo for each and local companies sponsored and supported them.

About 150 metres after the start was the ‘Smell’ tent.  Sponsored by Bidwells and manned by Jeremy Proctor of Bidwells and ably supported by volunteers Chandrasekar Rathinam, and Olivia Shears, there was great entertainment as the younger participants in particular, screwed their faces up when faced by some wonderful farmyard smells supplied by Burwash Manor!  I think silage and vinegar competed for worst smell of the day, though there was fresh wild mint and a bath bomb to make people smile.

Next up was the ‘Sight’ tent, sponsored by Cambridge Regional College.  The bubble machine proved ever popular, even inspiring the 5K runners re-entering the recreation ground nearing their finish.

Cambridge Lakes Golf Course hosted the ‘Touch’ tent and brought a new perspective to the concept, with impromptu games of golf and mini hockey!  With balls, wood, clubs, cloth, and some targets fashioned to look like Simpson characters, there was plenty to entertain.  Thanks to Bob Barnes, a wonderful supporter of Power2Inspire, and to his merry helpers, Ben and Johnny.

The ‘Hearing’ tent was transformed by volunteers Bev and Georgia into the party tent.  Sponsored by One Broker, the charity’s insurance brokers, who fight to get us some good deals, it proved popular with old and young alike.

We put ‘Taste’ last to encourage participants towards the finish. Sponsored by the local accountants, PEM, and crewed by the Ong family, it is of course many participants’ favourite tent.  Leila Ong reported that much to her surprise, the small pieces of lemon proved to be one of the most popular tastes!  There’s no accounting for….Taste!

Despite the weather – the sun only appeared after we had finished and it was cool first thing – that we had had to hold it on a Sunday not a Bank Holiday Monday, and the fuel shortages, all of which put attendees off, we still had 36 participants.  There was a real range of abilities, to those that had run before, to those older, younger and in between, and to disabled children and their siblings: a truly inclusive mix!

Thanks to HiF (the Friends of the Histon and Impington Rec) for including us again and to therefore making their Festival properly inclusive. Thank you too to the other volunteers – Thea, Anna, Mick (the wonderful photos are his), Steve and Gemma.  Volunteers make these things happen so we all salute you!

Most importantly we will back – mark your diaries for Monday, yes we are back to the Bank Holiday Monday – 2nd May 2022.  And thanks to our sponsors, we are very hopeful it will be free again!

Inspired? Then Get Involved!

If you would like to support us in our mission to “embed inclusive sport in the sporting, education and community landscapes” then we would love to hear from you. We are always looking out for people willing to fundraise for Power2Inspire through their own inspiring means. Or, you could volunteer at one of our events, or you could give to the ongoing work of Power2Inspire. Click the button here to find out more.

John Willis

CEO & Founder, Power2Inspire


Quilters' Paralympic Week 2021

It was an absolute joy to be back in school last week, especially as it was at Quilters Junior School in Billericay, Essex for their 4th Annual Paralympic Week!  Run across the whole week the pupils:

·       played inclusive activities

·       heard inspiring stories from para-sports stars

·       practised resilience, teamwork, and perseverance, and

·       competed in fun games against the other class in their year group.

Talan Skeels-Piggins led the week off with a storming start.  An alpine sit-skier, paralysed from the chest down from a motorbike accident, he is the epitome of resilience.  Defying the odds he learnt to mono-ski after a week of falling over every 3 metres.  His mantra is: “Have one more go”, because it was his final run down the mountain that proved he could do it.  He went on to represent GB at the Winter Paralympics and at other championships.

Jan Helmich, para-rower and Cambridge student, told of his different journey into disability sport as he started in the mainstream world.  He is now aiming for Paris 2024.

Each day a different year group took centre stage in the Quilters main hall.  Four activities were played showcasing different abilities, learning, adaption and fun.  New age kurling – similar to curling on ice but with ball bearings on the underside of the stones – requires teamwork, skill, tactics and support as the stones become ever more pressurised.  Sitting volleyball challenges participants to keep their bottoms attached to the floor, a major challenge indeed to some of the young boys!  Sitting netball, a game I claim to have invented, is way harder physically than it looks as scooting around on your bottom (when you do not have the ball) is hard work.  It also rewards those that move away from the scrum between the low nets, teaching the children to find space.  Goalball, a Paralympic sport, the way we play it, teaches communication – a child standing behind the bench (which we use as a goal) gives directions to the blindfolded child in front of them.  It also requires resilience and teamwork.

In the afternoons the classes played against each other in each sport, winning points for a game victory, for teamwork, for resilience and for caring and respect.  I shall never forget the joy a young pupil, with extra needs, scoring the winning goal for her class in sitting netball.  And the joy it gave to her classmates, her teachers and everyone in the hall!

After wheelchair basketball on the Wednesday – I was given a welcome day off – I faced Rachel Morgan across an improvised net in a playground demonstration of tennis.  Rachel, a double world champion at blind tennis, thrashed me!  Her superior power and remarkable ability to know where the ball was, overcame my prosthetic racket and short steps, but the children loved it.  Rachel was ecstatic to announce this as the biggest crowd she had ever played in front of.

I rounded off the week with an assembly on resilience and how I had never given up.  The children listed what they had learnt before I put up my slide:

  • Practice makes progress
  • Never give up
  • Have one more go; and (chanted along with a pause)
  • I can’t do it…..YET!

It was another fabulous week at Quilters.  We are already planning a special one for the Fifth Paralympic Week next year.  I am looking forward to it already.

As Mike Wade, the head teacher says:

This is my favourite week of the school year, and all schools should have one!”

Inspired? Then Get Involved!

If you are interested in hosting a virtual PowerHouseGames in your school / college / company / community group then we would love to hear from you. As you have read we have even found a way to make our PowerHouseGames a success in lockdown so don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can help you plan your very own PowerHouseGames!!

Click the button here to find out more.

John Willis

CEO & Founder, Power2Inspire


Transitions Open Day - Arthur Rank Hospice

Power2Inspire was thrilled to be a part of the Arthur Rank Hospice Transitions Open Day on Monday 23rd August.  Designed to assist young patients, their families and carers, in the stressful move to a new home, a number of local charities and organisations attended to make the day as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.  We were helping with the new inclusive sports equipment acquired by Arthur Rank through a grant from Sport England.

We showcased new age kurling, boccia, some target games, skittles, and a variety of games using a net, rackets and balls and shuttlecocks.  We were also able to teach the staff so the activities can be played with all the residents when we are not around.  Fun was had and a couple of members of staff seemed a bit addicted!

Patrick Gosling, our star volunteer, was vital in encouraging and cajoling.  But I am sure he will be first to say that the games are accessible to all and anyone can learn them.  That is why we were keen to teach the staff so the new kit does not stay in the cupboard but gets used by the residents, their families, friends, and carers.  We so enjoyed our afternoon, we look forward to returning at further transitions days.

You can find out more about the fabulous Arthur Rank Hospice and read their blog from the Transitions Day by clicking the link.

Inspired? Then Get Involved!

If you would like to support us in our mission to “embed inclusive sport in the sporting, education and community landscapes” then we would love to hear from you. We are always looking out for people willing to fundraise for Power2Inspire through their own inspiring means. Or, you could volunteer at one of our events, or you could give to the ongoing work of Power2Inspire. Click the button here to find out more.

John Willis

CEO & Founder, Power2Inspire


Festival of Inclusive Golf 2021

Fun again at our Festival of Inclusive Golf at Cambridge Lakes Golf Course, Trumpington, Cambridge on Friday.  Five teams totalling 21 players, of varied abilities, played the beautiful par 3 9-hole course – a green oasis only a mile from the centre of Cambridge, on a lovely August evening.  And then celebrated with an outdoor barbecue, provided by our wonderful host, Bob Barnes.

The competition – and I use the term very loosely, because Power2Inspire’s purpose is to play together in a fun and friendly atmosphere – uses Texas Scramble rules.  Each group plays as a team, which encourages teamwork and helping each other, as the team score counts for each hole – the lowest overall score, wins.  Each player hits every shot.  After the first shots, the team chooses the ball they wish to use for their second shots and the other players pick up their balls and move them to adjacent to the selected ball.  They all then play their second shot, and the process repeats, down to the final putts.  This means all team members get to participate.  To add a twist, we insist that each team must select each team member’s first shot, on at least two holes, adding a tactical element as a good shot from a weaker player may be the preferred shot to select.

This year we added the fun of “Mulligan balloons”.  For a fiver, each team could have a bunch of 8 balloons. The team could decide that any player could replay a shot, with no penalty, by popping a balloon.  This created the extraordinary sound around the course of popping balloons as shots tumbled into ditches, bunkers or the lakes!

David Carlisle, a keen and talented young golfer, won the nearest-the-pin competition, at the sixth, beating my effort which was on line until a pesky bunker snaffled my ball.  And the Carlton Club, a team comprising Mark and Becca Thornton, Hugh and David Carlisle, came through with the lowest score.  Congratulations to them.

Big thanks to all our volunteers, including newcomers Mark and Paula Slater who judged the nearest-the-pin competition, who played, registered, and even cooked the barbecue.  Thanks to my teammates Richard and Brian, and to the Mayers and our friend Daniel, whom you can read more about here.

I assured Mark Thornton we will repeat the event next year and hopefully make it bigger, because he says:

“This is one of my favourite events of the year!”

If you’re now inspired for Inclusive Sport then do join us at our next big event:

No event found!

John Willis

CEO & Founder, Power2Inspire