Being Bettina’s dad
My inspiration for what I do
During my participation in athletics in the 1980/90s, I modelled my levels of concentration on other athletes such as Sally Gunnell, Seb Coe and Steve Cram, closely watching them prior to races as they physically and mentally prepared for their next winning performance and taking the best bits to build my own model of concentration and focus.
I have just spent a whole week with Bettina in Whitby and being around her 24/7 inspired me to write this post because if anyone is “No 1 and liked by everyone” it is Bettina.
A question I am often asked since leaving the Army to support people with learning disabilities has been, “I suppose getting involved in this work has helped you support your daughter, Bettina with her care?” I remember being asked this question by a fellow Area Manager when we met up for lunch some years ago. I found myself saying, “Actually it is the other way around.”
In the late 1980s, Autism was not as well known or shared as it is today. When it came to explaining the condition Bettina was coping with to family and friends, we often resorted to asking if they had seen ‘Rain Man’, a ground breaking film at the time with Dustin Hoffman.
So many people who have been part of Bettina’s life have described the effect she has had on them just by being in her presence, so it isn’t just her proud parents who feel this way. We have described her as being “spiritual” without coming up with a profound understanding of what this means and what it is that she gives out. Until now!
For Steve and me, it has been good to revisit some of the earlier days with Bettina, especially as time goes by so quickly you tend to forget some of the achievements and some of the forks in the road you have to take.
Bettina is absolutely mesmerised by Christmas! We call it “her time of the year” because for Bettina, Christmas lights her up as bright as any tree.
Climbing out of my snow hole, I received a letter from home. No mean feat as I was somewhere in the Arctic Circle and a month into a winter deployment with 3 Commando Brigade. It was the news I had dreamed of from Joyce– we were going to have a baby! I never doubted for… Read More ›
For the first time I felt mortal, and I worried about Bettina’s future, realising I was only living in the now or at least in the next 6 months to a year for her. We started to discuss and we started to plan because now we realised that love would not always be enough.
Hanging out with Bettina as much as I can, I have learned from her how she faces adversity and I use these lessons when I face adversity in my work. I would like to share with you what I think are Bettina’s five lessons on how to face adversity.