General


Today Adam has been spending time at the Games Village.  The highlight has been a chance meeting with Gary Lineker.  Adam bumped into Gary as he was leaving the village adn we got Gary to pose for a photograph – we will post it later.

The opening ceremony on Saturday was “awesome” says Adam.  As well as the atheltes entrance it included fireworks, a carnival of fabulas animals and the lighting of the olympic flame after the torch was carried in.  Pictures and news of the event are on the official Special Olympics web site http://www.sol2009.com

Adam says he is having a wonderful time.  He has completed his single boccia matches and is looking forward to the team matches later in the week.  We will post more news when we can.

Adam has posted his interview with Ed on YouTube:


On Monday I went to the House of Commons in London.  I interviewed Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, in his office.  I felt very nervous to start off with whilst I was sitting in the waiting area.

Adam_dcfs.jpg

I went outside the Department to film my introduction and while we were filming his car drew up.  Ed Balls came over and shook my hand.  I felt excited.  I then went back to the waiting area.  One of Ed’s assistants came down to collect us and we went in the elevator to the top floor where his office was.  We then waited in another waiting area.

Whilst I was in the waiting area I got talking to a woman who wanted to involve me in  making a film in Hollywood.  She is connected to the National Childrens Bureau and her name is Emma Rodwell.  Emma has a connection with someone in Hollywood and she emailed him about what I was doing interviewing Ed Balls and suggested it would be good to involve me in making a Hollywood film about disabled people.  I should receive some minutes from the meeting.  Emma then helped me to prepare for my interview with Ed.

Adam interviews Ed Balls #1 - London 22/06/2009

Suddenly I heard Ed ask “Where’s Adam?”  A woman came and escorted my mum, me and Emma into Ed’s office.  Ed introduced me to a Times newspaper Political Editor: Francis Elliott, the Chief Political Correspondent for the Times.  He shook my hand and said “hello.”  He then asked me if he could take some pictures of me interviewing Ed.  I agreed to have the pictures taken.  I then prepared myself for the interview.

I stated talking before Emma pressed the record button so I had to start again.  Once we got going I asked how the department was involving young disabled people in making decisions and listening to their experiences.  He told me that an organisation called Wizz Kids comes into his department on Thursdays and provides training on safety, wheelchair users, provision of wheelchairs for the disabled.

I cannot remember my next question but I do remember asking him about how a disabled person should have fun and have access to sport.  We discussed disability access for playgrounds and the importance of them having disabled access and making sure that disabled people have access to sport in schools.

This interviews was very interactive because Ed asked me questions and let me talk and listened.  This was unlike my interiew with Hugh Bayley who just talked to me rather than being interactive.  As a disabled person it is very important that people are interactive with you.

Ed had an appointment at Downing Street but he said “Oh, I can leave Gordon until later.”  That made me feel SO important.  Then he also said that I could put the interview up on YouTube.  I felt excited that I had Ed’s permission to put his interview on the internet.

Adam interviews Ed Balls #2 - London 22/06/2009

I then travelled down in the lift with Ed Balls.  I felt quite honoured.  He talked to me about meeting my mum’s schoolfriend and having lunch with her as we left the department.  I couldn’t believe that, after all this time, I got to interview the real Ed Balls!

On Wednesday Adam was invited to attend the launch of a new internet service, Family Fund Extra, which took place at the House of Commons.  In addition, Adam’s friends at the Family Fund said he could bring his family so we all got a trip down to London.  When we arrived Eleanor decided to help out with the catering (we weren’t sure if this was purely to be helpful or to ensure she was close to the parliamentary cakes) .

Eleanor the House of Commons caterer - London 25/02/09

Guest speaker at the launch was Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, and Adam was delighted that Ed remembered him from their brief meeting last year.  Only an old cynic like myself would suggest this might be the result of a thorough briefing from his aides before the event (although I suspect I wasn’t entirely alone in wondering whether Ed did actually buy all his Christmas presents at Argos).


However even I was impressed that, after his speech, Ed made time to talk to Adam (and Eleanor) and ask how he was getting on.  He’s quite a charmer for someone with a background in economics.  But then Adam is quite a charmer too and it was noticeable that people were keen to get their picture taken with him and his famous smile.  One of these was our Member of Parliament, Hugh Bayley.  See his web site: www.hughbayley.labour.co.uk

Adam’s own account of his visit has been published on the Family Fund website:
Adam’s day at the House of Commons

Outside the Pencil Museum - Keswick 22/12/2007

When we were in Keswick a few years ago we saw that there was a pencil museum there but, regrettably, didn’t go.  It has been something we were determined to put right and, with another trip to the Lake District this December, now we have.  The Cumberland Pencil Museum is tiny but must be the most charming, friendly and entertaining one we have visited.  In addition to the history of pencil making (as you would expect) it also has: the largest pencil in the world; how secret pencils helped escaping POWs in World War II; and why soviet cosmonauts took pencils in to space.

This was the best part of our trip for Eleanor, although Adam said he preferred the alternative attraction in Keswick – Cars of the Stars.

We would love to have your comments on any of the posts or pictures. Just click on the comment link underneath the post title or email blog@pennystafford.net.

We have spent a week in Northern Ireland, staying very close to the Giants Causeway in County Antrim. Parts of the coast there are only a dozen or so miles from Scotland and the ferry from Stranrar to Belfast takes less than two hours. But still very different.

Penny looks out to the Mull of Kintyre - Murlough Bay 5/4/2007

A pre-Christmas stay in St Briavels, near Gloucester, allowed us to sleep in the remains of a Norman castle once used as a hunting lodge by King John and now run as a hostel by the YHA. It includes an Oubliette prison – pit in which prisoners were thrown (and forgotten?). However we were not allowed to leave Adam and Eleanor there while we enjoyed ourselves.

Saying goodbye to King John's hunting lodge - 24/12/06

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Eleanor the pirate - York 26/11/2006

Gone are the days when all that was required for a birthday party was cake, jelly and space to run around. Now parties have themes, bouncy castles, party bags and (for the seriously competitve parents) entertainers. Eleanor had lots of fun today at Theo’s pirate party. Penny made her a sword and hat so that she looked the part.

We will have to start planning now for Eleanor’s birthday in February. Eleanor says she wants her theme to be princesses (and princes). So long as we don’t have to hire a palace to hold it in.

Going to the zoo now gives me very mixed feelings. I can share the delight of Adam and Eleanor at being close to strange, exotic creatures. But, at the same time, I am acutely aware that they are being imprisoned in very confined spaces, a long way from home. The behaviour of animals in a zoo had been compared to that of people institutionalised in prisons or hospitals. So visiting a zoo could be similar to the practice of visiting mental asylums to be entertained by the “crazies” in ealier times.

Watching the elephants - Twycross 19/11/2006

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