What stands out for me was during our recent Caribbean trip when we had a swim stop at anchor.
There was a lad on board, Jamie who was about 18, who was being ably looked after by a friend/carer Mujib. He was in a wheelchair as his Cerebral Palsy restricted his coordination as well as his speech. I found out that he was a Man United fan, and so much banter and ribbing inevitably followed (my football allegiances are elsewhere).
Anyway after inviting all hands to swimming Jamie was determined to give it a go and bravely took to the floating chair.
The water was quite bouyant, and we worked together to make sure it didn’t tip over. Whilst battling the slight chop and concentrating fully on his stability, Jamie helpfully assisted by creating a waterfight and his strength multiplied along with his enthusiasm – almost half drowning us all!
I didn’t want him to be confined in the water and I suggested he leave the chair behind. Game as he was, he agreed and as I was wearing fins, was able to tend and manage him in the water.
Tentatively at first he shrugged me off and swam in the only way he could – with total freedom. I stayed close by throughout, occasionally towing Jamie back against the slight tide. He was relishing the experience so much that he practically turned into aqua man and didn’t want to get out.
Many people were moved by his experience and even after 25 years with the JST, it’s moments like this that remind me why I am involved.
I thank him for his bravery and showing all what it is to push the barriers.