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Then came two of the most inspiring presentations that I have heard anywhere: Richard Burbedge had had a double lung transplant in 2010 and was already a Transplant Games medallist. He described how both he and his twin sister were born with cystic fibrosis, and for us to understand what this means, we were each given a straw and invited to breathe through it. Well, it was ok for a few minutes but all the time ….?


Sadly his twin sister ran out of time and died when she was 17, but Richard carried on with incredible courage and the determination to squeeze every ounce of fun out life however constrained. In 2008 he was hospitalised, living on in an oxygen machine, and he was terrified. His strong resolution was to Live. Unfortunately his condition was too bad for him to be considered for a transplant and he was seriously facing the prospect of dying.


Then he met the transplant surgeon Andre Simon who convinced him that he should go on the transplant list. There followed the agonizing wait for a donor, but on the evening of 14th June 2010 in a mixture of terror and excitement the call came. He was nine hours in theatre, but in weeks he was strong enough to get up and do simple tasks, and within three months he had managed to do a mile-long Fun Run!


Determined to live his new life to the full he went in for the World Transplant Games in the volleyball team and carried the Olympic Torch in 2012. He has dedicated his life to three people, his sister, his surgeon and his donor, without whom nothing would have been possible. A true inspiration!


If that wasn’t inspiring enough it was followed with Naomi Riches who is a visually impaired gold medallist in the 2012 Para-Olympic Games. She described how despite being almost blind she took a jewellery design degree, and because she was tall and athletic she was approached to try for the GB adoptive rowing team – that is a mixed team of four with a sighted cox.


She described the ups and downs of making it to the Para- Olympic final, including being knocked down by a car and thrown 30 yards down the road. She nearly died and was only saved by chance by the presence of a newly qualified doctor. The team was ever motivated by the desire to beat the Germans, and she described the tenseness of waiting for the start in an Olympic final. Because she could not see, she had no idea that they had won when they crossed the line – “GB takes the GOLD”!


Finally she quoted Nelson Mandela: “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by the number of times I have fallen and got up again”


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