Hester Poole is a year 5 pupil at the Paragon School in Bath
Hester has taken up competitive ski racing with a visually impaired (VI) team and in order to support her future in the sport and long-term aspiration of joining the Paralympic skiing team.
She is also attempting 100 sports in 100 days, which all her family, friends and the school community are getting behind, to help her reach her fundraising target.
School swim club. I am in the development squad but hope to move up to the performance team when I get to year 6. Today is special. I am not going to swimming club as I am having a lesson with the Paragon’s swimming teacher and current parent Jaime Ormshaw (nee King), the 3x GB Olympic team swimmer. Jaime taught me to swim when I was three. When Mrs Ormshaw heard about my 100 sports in 100 days challenge, she kindly offered a special session. It was great fun and apparently I have improved since we last met. Thank you Mrs Ormshaw.
Some more special sessions today. I go to our senior school Prior Park College to join a hockey session with teacher and captain of the Irish Hockey Team at the Rio Olympics John Jackson. He shows me how to do lots of passes and dribbling then how to do backhand flicks at goal. It is excellent. Now I want to do lots more hockey. In the afternoon, I do a special dance session with the Paragon’s Ms Arnold, a professional dancer. I find copying dance moves really hard because I am never quite sure precisely how a move is supposed to look. It’s fun though and comes in useful when we practise the Charleston which I have to dance in the school play this week.
Match day. Everyone goes off for matches in school minibuses and I stay at school for extra Braille learning which is really important for me to practise. After school, I have a swimming lesson at the University of Bath in their enormous (Olympic size) pool. These lessons are good fun and often finish with diving practice. One day I hope to get goggles that stay on when I dive. But today – something extra special – we have found a sport beginning with U, unicycling. It turns out unicycling is really tricky to begin with. But I manage to get going eventually. Now I want a unicycle.
I go ski race training at the Mendip dry slope on alternate Thursdays. But this week is the school play so I am doing my alternative activity cross country club instead. We set off from school and run around the surrounding fields and woods with some of our teachers. I love the freedom of running. I have to concentrate quite hard on not falling over a tree root or running into a tree but it is good to be out whatever the weather. One of the teachers keeps an eye on me and warns me if there is something in the way.
Extra busy this week as we are doing a sponsored one mile fun run through Bath’s two tunnels in aid of our school’s charity and also I have athletics practice for sports day. I enjoy the run which I do with a friend guiding me along the route. The afternoon is also good as we paint our faces in house colours and I practise relay racing, especially the baton handover, which can go wrong if I’m not careful, and hurdling. I have learned to jump when I can see the shadow of the hurdle on the ground which is easier to see than the actual hurdle.
Park Run then pancakes. My family friend and part-time special support assistant at school Mrs Butters is a keen runner and often runs the local Park Run with me. We run the 5K around the Bath Skyline. Today is not a personal best as I am really tired after a busy week and it is a real struggle to get round.
This Sunday is special. I am not ski race training at Milton Keynes with the team. Instead I am meeting modern pentathlete Olympic medallist Kate Allenby MBE and current Paragon parent for a horse riding session as part of my 100 sports fundraising challenge. I used to ride every week with the RDA and even competed in dressage and gymkhana events (I got through to the national championships two years ago) but seem to have forgotten everything I ever knew and am bouncing about all over the place. It is great to be back on a pony though and reminds me I would like to do more of this.