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Joanne’s Story Our Impact

Our Impact

Participants – Family Weekend

Joanne’s Story

Before I got sick I was super adventurous and loved the great outdoors along with everything it had to offer. I used to teach sailing and I’ve worked and travelled around England and Europe.

When I had children we went walking most weekends and camping every school holiday.

When I got sick I lost myself. I felt a failure in every aspect of my life but the part that upset me the most was not spending time outdoors with my children.

Being active outdoors improves a person’s wellbeing. Me and my children were stuck inside our home for 5 years, with no real support or help from anyone.

Eventually with a change of medication and some support from a personal trainer I got stronger and remembered about Bendrigg Trust.

I had been there as an able bodied volunteer years and years ago then I went with a client whom I supported in his home. I never thought I’d return there as a disabled person accessing these services myself.

When I contacted Bendrigg I was excited to learn about the family weekends for families with a disabled member. They were perfect for me to be able to go somewhere that supports me with my disabilities to join in the activities alongside my children. The centre has specialist activity equipment and highly skilled and trained staff that make sure that everyone can access any of the activities.

I can’t tell you how much mentally that weekend did for me and my family, the kids loved it, I loved it, it was so nice to achieve something again.

As a disabled person I can’t emphasise enough how important Bendrigg Trust is for people like me. Centres like this are few and far between. When you lose your body functions and don’t operate as you used to, the sense of achievement is priceless and you take it home with you which leads on to other positive things. You may gain the confidence for example to join a new group or use a bus.

The best thing for me was feeling like a mum again and giving my kids a beautiful experience that we could all enjoy together.



Poetry by Joanne

Joanne is a very talented poet, just before her first trip to Bendrigg in 2018 she wrote this poem about her visit.

Bendrigg Trust

Bendrigg Trust the time is almost here,

I’m filled with so much excitement and fear.

We have a long history a past so sweet,

It will be so different though when I visit next week.

As a young adult I came and volunteered,

I learnt so much, having a disability wasn’t to be feared.

I never imagined I’d be back one day,

Now the shoe’s on the other foot and I need support to live this way.

It’s a family weekend so I’ll have my children with me,

Couldn’t think of a safer, adapted place to be.

To do activities as a family together once more,

Is the day I’ve been impatiently waiting for.

Joanne Quinnell

Disability Talks Poetry Competition Winner

Joanne Quinnell – Who’s That Stranger

Joanne Quinnell wrote and entered her heartfelt poem, Who’s That Stranger, into the Disability Talk “My Disabled World” Poetry Competition. Joanne entered the competition in 2020 along with 125 others and she was crowned 1 of the 15 winners of the competition, winning herself and her chosen charity – Bendrigg Trust £250.

Eileen Grubba is an accomplished Hollywood actress, writer, director, producer and an advocate for performers with a disability. Her latest roles include: Sons of Anarchy; Watchmen; The Undertaker’s Wife; Stumptown; New Amsterdam & S.W.A.T. Eileen was one of the judges for the competition and she very kindly agreed to read Joanne’s poem and share some feedback in the video below.



You can read all of the winning poems from the competition here

And read more about Eileen Grubba and her personal journey with disability in Hollywood here