We are pleased to hear from Fiona, who we helped several years ago, please read her blog below .
Strong Bones Trust Gave me the Travel Bug!
I’m Fiona, the Disability Specialist at DisabledHolidays.com – the UK’s largest accessible holiday company. I was born with an extremely rare bone disorder affecting primarily my hands and legs. There is no cure for this condition so I undergo regular surgery to manage discomfort. As part of my job role, I search for charities who are keen to partner with us to ensure that people with disabilities are aware of the outstanding accessible holiday support and opportunities we can provide for them. Strong Bones Trust came to my mind because of how they have supported me personally. When I was at school, the Strong Bones Trust generously provided me with a grant for a French Horn which has opened up more doors for opportunity than I could have imagined.
I began to learn the French Horn when I was 10 years old. Learning a musical instrument is something I had always wanted to do so I began to learn the violin when I was 6 years old, but it became impossible because the movement in my fingers became restricted. My fingers have an overgrowth of cartilage which prevents the joints from bending so I had the valves on my French Horn adapted to enable me to play it. I would always look forward to my lessons – playing music helped me to cope with the stress of ongoing surgery and provided me with a good social life! As my standard improved, I was accepted into the West Suffolk Youth Wind Band and the Suffolk Youth Orchestra. I had the amazing opportunity to travel across Europe each year. By the time I started University, I had achieved my grade 8 and continued touring with the York University Concert Band. As the movement in my hands became more restricted, my French Horn was adapted further to ensure I could still play without pain. During my time at University, I led a music workshop on the Children’s ward at York hospital – I wanted to show children how they can relieve stress and pain through music. This teaching opportunity motivated me to study for a PGCE course in Primary Education where I continued to share my love of music with children.
I’m struggling to maintain playing the French Horn as a hobby at the moment because I am awaiting another hand surgery, however I’m happy to be married to another French Horn player I met whilst playing in the Suffolk Youth Orchestra! It is also the excitement and independence experienced touring Europe with my French Horn that motivated me to work in accessible travel. Working for DisabledHolidays.com is amazing because I am able to contribute towards improving the quality of life for someone who has a disability or health condition. Our accessible holiday specialists provide disabled people with all the support they need at every step of their holiday, including choosing, booking, preparing to go, travelling, holidaying and coming home. My favourite part of the job is making sure that customers feel their disability will not stand in the way of them experiencing an incredible holiday.
I could not be more grateful for the grant that was provided from Strong Bones Trust. I’m still in touch with some incredible musical friends, I’m married to a French Horn player and have extensive travel experience which made it possible for me to work for DisabledHolidays.com. Thank you Strong Bones Trust!