Best bits about my job

Sir Philip Craven MBE

Sir Philip Craven MBE

One of the privileges of my job is meeting inspiring people.

Sir Philip Craven MBE, who is President of the International Paralympics Committee, falls into this category and I got to meet him last Friday when my university awarded him an Honorary Doctorate for his work. Sir Philip received a Doctorate of Science in recognition of his outstanding contribution to sport and in particular to the London Paralympics 2012.

He’s a very clever man with a northern sensibility and humour that’s infectious.

He’s won many medals himself as a wheelchair basketball player, but as the man at the helm of the Paralympics movement he’s been instrumental in driving forward an amazing sea-change in public perceptions. Because the Paralympics had a significant impact on our country. Research carried out before the Games finished discovered one in three UK adults changed their attitude towards people with an impairment and eight out of ten adults thought the Paralympics had a positive impact on the way people with an impairment were viewed by the public.

The Paralympics in London created so much excitement here last year. If any one event could underscore how Paralympians are as great as Olympians, how we may all be different but fundamentally we are all the same – we are all one – then the London Games gave us that.

I run the press office at my university so I am there on these big days, to look after media wanting interviews. We had a one-off event for Sir Philip because he couldn’t make the summer degree congregation ceremonies next month. But I will be meeting the Olympic cyclist Jason Kenny then – no runners but plenty of athletes about just at the moment.

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Olympic fever and a legacy for us all

We’re known for our reserve.

Our ‘calm in the face of a challenge’ heritage.

Our still upper lip.

Yeah, right.

That was the scene in the BBC commentary box as Mo Farah ran a perfect race in the 10,000 metres last night. Hot on the heels of Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford’s gold success stories.

Can’t say the scene in my front room was much different to that commentary box. That sofa’s on its last legs now, that’s for sure.

We’re third in the medals people! Amazing.

And when I went out for my run this morning, my fellow runners? Just a little more smiley, a couple more good mornings and a nod of acknowledgement that we’re in the same gang. If part of the Olympic legacy is pride and joy in running that is now bad thing, but Government investment in supporting sport – for everyone – is what’s important.

We talk about nurturing the athletes of the future, but what about giving a thought to the over 60s and activities for them as well. We’re a society made up of people of all ages, why should we not invest in the people who have given us their entire working lives?