Channel Four Paralympics 2012

Jan Leeming

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Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

CHANNEL FOUR - PARALYMPICS 2012

Date: 21st July 2010

CHANNEL FOUR -   PARALYMPICS 2012

I had to go to London yesterday for a meeting with a producer at Channel 4 and my friend/agent Simon asked if I would stay on to attend the Press Launch of the Ch. 4 Paralympics.  I was down to attend a Gala Night of the Sandwich Tech production of Les Miserables - produced and choreographed by my friend Josephine Buchan which has had rave reviews and was so good it transferred from Sandwich Tech for a season at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury. 

I chose to go to the Press Night, and though sad to miss Josephine's production, am so glad I was able to experience the excitement and joy at the Press Launch.

Simon has become involved in PR for the Wheelchair Rugby Team who recently played a match on the Woolwich Ferry as it passed under Tower Bridge.  I was introduced to two of the players - both charming and good looking young men, Steve Brown and Mandip Sehmi  - who, through totally freak accidents are paralized from the upper chest down.  You should see them move in their wheelchairs!  And I'm now told that Steve went off to a nightclub in Soho - despite having to film early in the morning - what a guy! Unfortunately I'm not able to bring you the Publicity photographs of these two lovely guys - they are embargoed.  Probably just as well, they'd have a fan club queuing up.

Channel 4 are going to be the Total Paralympic Channel and must have put in a superb bid out-doing the BBC.

The Channel 4 'Café' was last night cleared of everything except throngs of people - some in wheelchairs, some with guide dogs and many with no obvious outward signs of disability.  David Abrahams gave us an outline of how they will be approaching their coverage and there was a brief address by the Minister for Sport. We were shown a short and succinct video of some of the aspects of the Paralympics (there was a short clip of our Rugby players) and then were invited to watch an abbreviated Basketball match.  Those of you who might have been reading my blogs for the last few years will know that I'm lousy at all sport and really have no interest in much other than ski-ing.  Well, all that changed last night.  I would never even think of watching a Basketball match - American anyway!  But watching them play in their wheelchairs was nothing short of miraculous.  One chap was constantly tipping over his chair and righting it again with consummate ease.  It was so exciting, I found myself cheering and thoroughly enjoying the whole event.  I have never ever watched the Olympics but I will be glued to the set in 2012 for the Paralympics.

We've come a long way since 1993 when I was asked by the British Legion if I would do the narration for Challenge 93 - The First International Ex-Service Wheelchair Games. (ITV and the BBC were not interested in doing a full documentary)  The event was held in the grounds of Stoke Mandeville Hospital.  187 Athletes attended from 21 countries.

When I arrived, someone in charge commented on the fact that I wasn't wearing a hat and gloves - I'd come to work for heaven's sake!  What none of us knew was that the late King Hussein of Jordan was coming to present the awards.  (As I was hatless, I was put in the back row for the presentations,  but felt a certain one upmanship when Queen Noor shook my hand and commented on how wise I was not to wear a hat on such a windy day.)

I remember being very moved by the whole event and very impressed that King Hussein gave the same time, care and attention to the Israeli team as he did to the Jordanians and all the other participants.)

It was only a short Video - which I found the other day.  I watched it and had the same feeling of wonderment for those people so badly afflicted by war and yet so positive and courageous. 

It's great that Bejing did so much for the disabled cause and I can't wait for 2012 - when I will be routing for all but particularly for our Wheelchair Rugby team. 

Having had a full, eventful and enjoyable day, it was made for me by meeting Jon Snow as I exited. I don't watch much news but when I do it's usually Channel 4 - I find it one of the best and I really admire Jon as a presenter.   I've met him before at Charity events and I'm not sure if he knew who I was last night but I asked him if I could have a photo taken with him.  I'd not thought to bring my camera and Simon only had his mobile.  I don't yet have any photos of Steve and Mandeep (the Rugby wheelchair players) so for the time being you can look at Jon and myself. (Not the most flattering of either of us)

CHANNEL FOUR - PARALYMPICS 2012

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