Recently I was approached by Fightland, Vice's martial arts website to talk about my views and experiences within martial arts. Particularly about the impact autism and ADHD have on my sport - what can be helpful and what can create more challenges.
It was tough to do at a time where I have just been diagnosed with ADHD and so therefore am still learning about what it means and how it affects me. Being diagnosed late as an adult is like being told the answers to a test paper, it is like that "ohhhhhh, that's it why didn't I get that sooner?". In any circumstance I feel I gave an accurate representation of how I experience martial arts.
Click here to read the interview.
Anna Kennedy Online took their hit show Autism's Got Talent on the road to Bromley, Kent at Baston House School.
Here I gave a speech about some of my experiences growing up and this was quite emotional for me. Anna Kennedy has asked me to give this speech at the House of Commons in December.
As usual the show was epic with brilliant performances from all involved.
For a write up about this event please click here
November has been a month of accolades for me and one accolade I was very proud to receive was a Martial Arts Illustrated Hall of Fame award. My award was for determination and achievement in martial arts and I was very honoured to receive this in front of so many dedicated and top martial artists.
My team mates Jack Bristowe, Alexander Barrowman and Kevin Williams all also received awards, as did my coach Alex Barrowman for lifetime achievement.
Click here to see my blog post regarding this award
It seemed impossible that I would be able to meet my target of fundraising enough money to attend the World Championships this year. However thanks largely to the kindness of some great people I have been able to do so. Please have a look at my sponsors page for information on the support I have received over recent years.
This year I managed to raise the funds through a range of channels. Firstly I managed to raise a significant amount via my fund page through donations from some very generous people - I have tried to thank people individually through email for their donations. After meeting Anna Kennedy on Twitter I was able to meet some great people who have done so much to support my cause. Austin Hughes who made it his own personal mission to secure the funds for me to go has been fantastic writing letters to MPs and making sure my fund page was shared. Vicky and Mick Cordwell, along with friends and other members of the local AKO group put on a fundraiser for me which raised just over £300. Anna herself who donated through the fund page and shared my fund page. Geoff Major of @hashtagINVOLVE, a charity fundraiser sponsored me with £250 and also vowed to help me with a plan to fundraise for future competitions.
My family have also been incredibly helpful with my older brother donating £100 and my dad aiming to give me some money which I will be able to use to pay off my next scheduled international early in 2014 . Tristan and Kay Dawson who I view as my family also generously sponsored me with £300 for the World Championships.
I have been incredibly lucky to have met such wonderful people this year and thank them from the bottom of my heart for their support and generosity. It means so much to me to be able to do what I love and now I am faced with the hard task of winning world title number 3!
I have recently been in to a couple of schools to deliver school assemblies. First I went to Denfield Primary where not only did I give an assembly but also was able to spend time with the children in the ASD unit. I took some of my medals in to show the children and they were keen to show me their brain gym exercise and ask some questions. I also showed them a couple of moves and how I warm up for a fight and finished off by showing them a video of some of my fight highlights and asking them what their dream or goal was. One young girl who was the only girl in the unit told me that when she was older she wanted to like me and this has really stuck with me, that my visit could be so powerful to her.
I also visited a year 10 class at Manor School in Raunds. Here the pupils asked me a range of questions about my kickboxing experiences. I also had some questions to ask them about their achievements and their aims for the future. I really enjoyed speaking to them and finding out about what they wanted to achieve. It was also important to me to encourage them to celebrate their own personal achievements no matter how small they might have seemed and I was so pleased when a boy with Asperger's told me he had achieved something great that day by sitting his maths test without panicking and getting wound up as was usual for him. A great achievement for him.
Finally I visited Friars School in Wellingborough, headed by one of my old PE teachers. I was probably the last person she might have expected to become a kickboxing world champion but there I was. I gave an assembly to the pupils there complete with video and showed them different equipment I used to fight in. After the assembly I stayed to spend some time with some of the pupils and it proved to be yet another enjoyable experience.
Since the start of 2013 I have been incredibly busy training for various competitions. I have won two British titles, a bronze in the Irish Open and also featured in the Clash of the Titans where I beat a tae kwon do world champion. Despite suffering illness in the early weeks of 2013 I managed to dig deep and continue my success on the kickboxing mats. Pictured to the left myself and my team at the Clash of the Titans Chinese Kickboxing Select, featuring fighters the BCKA and NWCKB.
Click here to see an article in the media regarding my most recent achievements. Huge thank you to the Swivel Club who sponsored me for the Irish Open and should have been mentioned in this article but were missed out by the editors of the paper.