On Saturday 20th May, a group of brave ELVis members set out to Lee Valley White Water Centre, ready to spend their afternoon having a go at white water rafting. This was organised with Metro Blind Sport thanks to a grant we received from the Primary Club.
For most participants it was their first time white water rafting, and people were understandably nervous. Once we’d arrived at the centre, everybody changed into their wetsuits (never an enjoyable task!), and then received a briefing from our raft guide, Tom. Tom was very friendly and helpful, explaining everything thoroughly and letting people get a feel of the raft and paddles on dry land, before getting into the water and practising their skills on the flat, calm surface of the lake.
Once everybody was confident manoeuvring the raft, it was time for the swim test, where they had to jump or slide into fast-moving water and then grab a rope that was thrown out to them. This really did test people’s courage, and it is to everybody’s credit that they all had a go and completed it successfully.
Ian Francis, Sports Development Officer at Metro Blind Sports said, “Jumping into fast moving and noisy white water, with sight loss, takes courage and conviction! Well done to all who took part and overcame their fear.”
The group paddled the raft through the Legacy Course several times, and it appeared that all were enjoying themselves. Each participant had the opportunity to swap seating positions, as well as sit at the front of the raft and experience the thrashing of the water. Lily, an ELVis service user and participant, described it as a “scary but memorable experience”. In addition, there was a moment when it looked like the raft was going to capsize, however thanks to Tom’s speedy reaction he was able to instruct the group to prevent this from happening.
Eventually, feeling exhausted but very pleased with themselves, everybody left the water to get dry and buy themselves a well-deserved hot drink before we headed home. Nicola Stokes from ELVis said, “It’s been fantastic to see how everybody today has worked together as a team, and to hear everyone laughing so much!”
Written by Nicola Stokes and Ray Calamaan