Inspiring, humbling and funny. That was my evening at Carnival House in the centre of Southampton one evening last week, as Team 107 from the Portsmouth Prince’s Trust hosted their final presentation.
The 12-week course they undertook consisted of a range of activities, from work placement and community volunteering to a week-long residential course that took them into the heart of the New Forest.
The idea of this is to promote bonding and team spirit. The team are taken well outside their comfort zones, especially when tacking the high ropes!
What was even more special about this group from Highbury College is that they were the first ever group with learning difficulties to take on this course.
Our group were aged between 19 and 25, with varying degrees of learning difficulty.
Nathan is 19 and has cerebral palsy. What courage he showed as he walked up to the lectern.
We all willed him on as he struggled to be heard clearly.
This didn’t put him off. He gave an articulate and witty speech which had us laughing and crying.
Nathan wanted to work in the travel industry but couldn’t get a work placement. Yet this didn’t deter him from putting 100 per cent into his 12 weeks with the Trust.
Then there was Steven. Before, he wouldn’t even travel on a bus on his own because of a lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem.
This is what the Trust helps to build on these 12-week courses and by the end of it, Steven was making his own way to Gunwharf Quays without the use of mum and dad’s taxi service.
He too gave an amusing and articulate speech.
These guys, no matter what their disability or handicap, had learnt some very important skills.
Not only in preparing a CV or interview techniques, but how to overcome that low self-esteem.
It was a privilege to hear their stories and see what teamwork and new friendship can achieve. I really do hope this is the boost they need to succeed.
I’M GLAD IDEA OF AN OPEN-TOP BUS PARADE IS NOW SCRAPPED
If Pompey beat Cheltenham on Saturday and Doncaster and Plymouth fail to win their respective matches, then we win the league!
It seemed an impossibility a few weeks ago, until Pompey put together that consistent winning run just at the right time, as others began to slip up.
But I’m glad that the idea of an open-top bus parade has been scrapped and replaced by a presentation on Southsea Common.
To me, it didn’t seem the right thing to do, especially if we do finish third.
All a bit over the top for getting promoted from a league many fans think we should have walked.
No, I say save the bus for our promotion back to the Premier League, or when we lift the FA Cup again!
HOPEFULLY I WON’T BE NEEDING TO USE MY COCKTAIL STICK FLAGS
I fully support the decision made by Gosport Borough Council when it comes to dog walking.
Now you will be fined £100 if you walk more than four dogs or cannot provide evidence that you have something to pick up any dog mess with.
It’s very rare to own more than four dogs.
With four off the lead, how can you control them or know when one has done its business?
Dog fouling is a big issue in Gosport, with many streets containing posters warning against it.
I was considering putting small cocktail stick flags in offending deposits, maybe with an EU emblem on them for comic effect.
Hopefully I won’t be able to from now on as there won’t be any!