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Start of a ski race

Heron Lake Competition

Disabled skiers at Heron Lake, the home of the British Disabled Water-ski & Wakeboard Association (BDWWA) often enquire about my S-MAX and role as Motability Ambassador, so the annual competition seemed like the obvious event to work with Ford on. Trust Ford Staines agreed to sponsor the competition this year and were able to display three vehicles on-site, along with providing experts to discuss any questions people might have about the Motability scheme.

Heron Lake is located near Wraysbury, only 3 miles away from Trust Ford in Staines. Many of the skiers live locally and would qualify for the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance, which can be used to cover the cost of a Motability Scheme lease agreement.

The BDWWA aims to inspire people affected by a disability, to challenge perceptions of disabilities and to build confidence and independence - values, which I believe, are shared with the Motability charity. In the thirteen years since becoming a member of Heron Lake, I have seen countless people join the scheme and benefit from the increased freedom and independence that comes with it.

The Heron water-ski and wakeboard competition is an annual event, there was a fantastic turnout this year – around 30 competitors, plus plenty of volunteers to ensure the day ran smoothly. The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect. Everyone arrived with their game face on!

​After the skiers briefing and introduction to the Trust Ford staff, the competition got underway. Skiers and riders were grouped in appropriate divisions depending on level of ability: advanced, intermediate and rookie, meaning that any skier could take part. The atmosphere was brilliant, with some serious competitors alongside those just wanting to have fun without any pressure.

The competition rules have been designed to be as inclusive as possible, regardless of disability or level of experience. It has been proved that competition helps us to get motivated and stay motivated. Research has shown that taking part in sport and having regular exercise can help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Many people with a disability often struggle with low self-esteem and can become withdrawn and disengaged from society. The BDWWA wants to reverse this by encouraging participation and inspiring hope for the future. Social events like the annual competition are a way to reach these goals. The BBQ and awards ceremony after the actual competition events help create a great sense of community.

The awards ceremony gave us a chance to recognise members achievements. There were a couple of extra awards – ‘Best Volunteer’ and ‘Outstanding Achievement’. Best Volunteer was a difficult decision as there are so many incredible volunteers involved with the BDWWA, the club would not be able to run without them. It was presented to a new volunteer this season who has dedicated a lot of time and energy to encourage disabled skiers.

The ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award was presented to a young boy with autism. When he initially came to have a look at what goes on at Heron, he didn't even want to get his feet wet. He was incredibly shy, anxious and reserved. With gentle encouragement from regular members and volunteers, he was persuaded to give water-skiing a go. He went on to progress at an incredible rate, grinning from ear to ear the whole time!

We had some great feedback from skiers and family members following the competition, hopefully the Trust Ford enjoyed it as much as them!