When I was young, my family and I moved to Spain. I didn’t speak Spanish, so when I went to a Spanish school, I struggled to fit in. That’s when the bullying started. The other kids would walk up behind me and slap me around the ears. They pulled my ears on a daily basis for longer than I can remember.
When I was twelve or thirteen, I came back from Spain with my family. By this time, I was struggling with spots and all the usual hormonal changes that happen at that age. Having left the bullying in Spain, I was now bullied back home over a period of three years. I was shot with an air rifle, spat at, beaten up, called names, stabbed with sharpened pencils, and burned with red-hot metal rulers that had been super-heated over Bunsen burners. I had balls kicked in my face, things thrown at me, and my nose was broken. The list goes on, and these behaviours were carried out by both boys and girls.
I never stood up for myself, so I was quite an easy target. Why I never stood up for myself, I don't know.
"I was shot with an air rifle, spat at, beaten up, called names, stabbed with sharpened pencils, and burned with red-hot metal rulers that had been super-heated over Bunsen burners."
But something good happened. At the time of starting high school, my grandad got me into swimming, and this was something I took to really well. I went on to be really good, and to win a couple of Manchester and District championships for 1500m. I became the captain of my swimming team, and won pretty much all of the internal club events. I even held some records there for a while.
When I was fifteen, my swim coach asked me to do the swimming part of a relay triathlon with him in Wales. I had never swum in open water before and had to borrow a wetsuit, but I still came out the water first by a long way. That was my first introduction to triathlon. From there, I went on to train in triathlon and got to a decent level. I even represented Great Britain in the 2008 world championships! You can see an old article about me looking for sponsorship from the Manchester newspaper here.
I took a long break from sport due to injury, and just started cycling again two and a half years ago when I turned 29. I really wanted to challenge myself again and see what I can do. I currently race for Elgin Cycling Club, which is my local club up here in the North East of Scotland, and they are amazing! I won the club Time Trial Series last year, which I am super happy with. I’ve just got to win it again this year!
Sport for me has always been my escape and a place to go back to that feels safe.
"If I can help just one person who is going through difficulties, then that would be amazing!"
What now? I’m fundraising for Kidscape. The Mallorca 312 is a big Sportive which covers 312km and a significant amount of hill climbing as we make our way around the mountain range at the top of the island. I wanted to take the opportunity to support a charity that relates to my past and is something I feel strongly about, especially now that I am a dad to a 18-month-old boy. If I can help just one person who is going through difficulties, then that would be amazing!