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Brighton Marathon Complete!

By Disability, Lifestyle No Comments

So 4 days later and I still have a huge grin on my face. I completed the 26.2 miles in a time of 4 hours and 49 minutes. I just wanted to do under 5 hours so as the bloke said as I ran through the finish line. “Smashed it”!

Brighton Marathon Complete

It is by far my biggest achievement to date and I am very proud. Well I say proud but when you see a 70 year old woman running past you the other way about 3 miles ahead it does take the shine off it!

The race started at Preston Park to the sound of Fat Boy Slim ‘Right here right now’ and 400 meters in who passes me on the road? England legend Matt Prior. I think he started the race, but cricket is my favourite sport and if I hadn’t of started about 4 minutes before I would have stopped for a photo.

The first half of the race was good, I kept a good pace, stopped for a wee break twice (pissed in a bush) ((one woman did a Paula Radcliffe)) and reached the half way point in 2 hours 15 minutes where my family were waiting. A hug and a kiss later the realisation of ‘I’m only half way’ hit me. As promised from marathon veterans I had the dreaded wall to look forward to and sure enough 0n 17 miles BANG!

At that point it’s a case of grit your teeth and keep thinking every step forward is a step closer to finishing. There was also the added pressure of the 23c sun which decided to come out on 17 miles, this meant every man and his dog was on the side of the road cheering but I didn’t have any sun cream. To be honest that was the least of my worries.

The next goal was to reach 20 miles. I did have my name on my tshirt and it was awesome to hear everyone shouting ‘Come on Jonno’, but out of courtesy I put my thumb up to them to say thanks. This system was fine after 10 miles but after 19 miles raising the arm was using precious energy so I reverted to a head nod.

The final 6 miles were a bit of a blur, my top half was fit but the legs were getting stiff and we had to run out passed Shoreham power station. On the way they have small speed bumps because it’s an industrial area, whilst these were merely 20cm high I though Mount Everist had been plonked on the course.

4 miles to go and you can smell victory, just keep running and think about the cold cider at the end. I actually got my rhythm back a bit and I remember 2 miles going quite quickly. Then it was a matter of the home stretch where everyone is cheering and willing you on. I remember looking the other way and a man with a donkey on his back was just passing, what an achievement!

I passed the Hilton where Juice 107.2 cheered me on, I passed the Pavillion hotel where Juice cheered me again and then I heard “Jonathan Cox” screaming in my ear, I turned round and I’d passed my sister and cousins, so made a dash to go and give them all a hug. This was with half a mile to go, then shouted at me to keep running, I could see the finish, the clock was ticking at 4:58:02 and I sprinted like an over weight Usain Bolt crossed the magic line and felt the best I have ever felt.

I then realised that because I didn’t start the race til 9.10am I had to take 10minutes of the clock time. I held it together (just about) and heard “JONNO, WELL DONE MATE” and my Mum, Dad, Jen and Neil were standing there looking very proud behind the fence which was a moment I will stay with me for life.

My thoughts are with Sam Harper Brighouse and his family who tragically had a heart attack at mile 16. He was only 23 years old. He died living the dream.

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated, the total stands at £1,360 plus gift aid which will take us to about £1,600. You can still donate at

Marahton run


I have just signed up for 2014 as well where we will do it all again. It’s actually like a payment protection plan, but with regards to weight (I won’t go into anymore detail).

6 days to go till Brighton Marathon Day!

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So to say I’m not nervous would be a lie. I had a 12k run last Monday, just to loosen the limbs a little and felt my calf twang. Worried that I would have to run in a lot more pain than expected, I have rested for a week and fingers crossed it seems to have healed. My t-shirt has gone in for printing today.Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 14.40.26


I have an Enhance the UK logo on the front and back. I’m also contemplating running with a bucket to get some donations from the crowd, but that weigh me down considerably (Unless they throw in notes) ((Maybe I should write that on the bucket))

Anyway if you are feeling generous like the wonderful 28 other people have been then please dig deep and donate at

It’s also on channel 4 this year, so if you see a guy on all 4’s crawling to the finish, that’ll be me….

Zoe talks beating the cuts

By Disability, Lifestyle One Comment

So the ‘cuts’ seem to be having a particularly negative impact on the lives of disabled people. I was faced with the magnitude of this potential impact about 18 months ago when my live-in care was nearly taken away from me within the space of one swift phone call.

I was told that the manager, after reading my review that the social worker had written up, had said ‘well lots of people in the community have arthritis that don’t have live-in care so why is this girl getting it?’. I obviously retorted that they aren’t as bad as me; wheelchair bound and virtually every joint in my body working to about 20% of its capacity. I tried to explain over the phone my limitations and how far I could reach etc…to which the response was ‘but you said you play Table Tennis, so if your arms are so bad how come you can still do this?’  I was horrified by the ignorance shown and welcomed them to come and watch me play and see that I won’t suddenly be stretching right over the table and running rings around it! In the year of the greatest Paralympics being held in our home town, to then have the fact that I try to still play sport be used against me, was astonishing!

Wondering how on earth I was going to cope without live-in care, I was told I could have daily care where I would have a ‘breakfast call’ to get me up in the morning, probably a ‘lunch-time’ call, and then a ‘tea time’ call to give me dinner and put me to bed. Now I know what this means.. a call no later than 8 or say good bye to any social life..and I currently lead a very active one, meeting friends most evenings and going to bed fairly late. Another alternative gently suggested to me would be to live in a ‘care home’……. My freedom, choice and independence was seemingly teetering on the edge of a cliff.

Then the biggest bomb-shell of all.. ‘How will I toilet through the day if my carer only comes at set times?’ I said.  ‘Have you ever considered using nappies?’  Er, NO!!!!!!! because I am fully continent and 32 years old so, no, the thought of gratuitously wetting myself hadn’t really occurred to me funnily enough.. By this time in the phone call, liquid WAS gratuitously being released from my body, but from my tear ducts.  I was distraught – could my ‘relatively normal’ life just be taken away from me like this? I felt so vulnerable and powerless I cannot tell you. Also very frightened.

Being disabled, we don’t have the freedom of choices that our able-bodied friends do..such as which houses we can rent/buy, where we can go on holiday, access to buildings, hotels, transport, pathways, toilets etc.  Every day we have to plan and be aware where we can go – its hard to be spontaneous .. Fortunately, we live in a country that does (usually) support us, alleviating some of the major stress of living with a disability by having people to help and care for us. With the threat of this being taken away, I now felt like a ‘Nobody’ and utterly helpless with my life being in the hands of some grey-suit that would never actually meet ME and respect the life I have carved out for myself which has taken a lot of adjusting to, mentally and physically.

There has been so much progress with disability awareness and giving disabled people their independence back, with suitable housing, access to work and schemes such as Motability to enable us to drive again that it seems so backwards taking this all away from us and potentially institutionalising us in care homes (such an archaic attitude of ‘keep them away from society’!!) or leave us house bound in our own homes. I cannot get in my car on my own, I cannot wheel myself long distances to get further than my own driveway, I cannot reach into cupboards to make a snack or a meal and cannot pick up things I have dropped. So with their plan of action I would have to have been housebound, waiting for the thrice daily visit from a RUSHED carer, just staring at a tv, unable to plan meeting my friends or going to my hobbies in the evenings… oh and just sitting there wetting my pants.  Sounds ideal doesnt it?

Fortunately, as I have a brain and the support of friends and family, I was able to write a 4000 word document explaining exactly why I need 24 hour care. My social worker, once properly recognising my situation, was very supportive in presenting my case to the Appeals Panel where they also agreed I should keep my care.  I feel for the people that would just accept what had been given to them and not have the wherewithal to defend themselves. Where would they be now?

Zoe Lloyd

Half Marathon done!

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So just 4 weeks to go till D day and I did 15 miles today. The full distance is just over 26 miles, so I’m over half way. But I’m a bit anxious my legs told me to stop at 15 miles and I’m not sure where I’ll find another 10 miles from!

Fingers crossed the crowd will get me through 5 miles and 3 more weeks of training will see me right.

If you would like to donate and get in ahead of the rush, please click here

I would appreciate it more than you know.

Until next time..!


Half Marathon Done!

January Marathon Training report

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Just wanted to let you know the training is now well on the way for the Brighton Marathon on April 14th.

Actually getting a bit excited about my marathon t-shirt with all the Enhance shabizzle my nizzle logo on the side!

I ran 15k or 9.3 miles at the gym today. Need to get outside again but it’s run in the cold or watch Bargin Hunt at the gym. (No brainer really). Time 1 hour 24 minutes and my left nipple was actually bleeding by the end, chafing! No Pain no gain hey…! But 42k or 26.2 miles seems a long long way off!

Oh and my just giving page is here if you would like to donate: I’m aiming for £2000.00!

It’s the Final Countdown…

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T-Minus 5 days until i run my first ever half-marathon!!!!!

I think im ready, and am looking forward to running the furthest i have ever run in my entire life. (Reading that back to myself is a tad scary)

I am currently in the pre-race carbo loading stages, which i have to say is pretty fun, my new best friends, pasta and potatoes, are very kindly keeping me company this week, and I am also trying to keep myself hydrated as much as i can.

I got all my race running kit in the post this week which was very exciting!

I decided to try and encorporate a run on the way home from work today and decided to run the 3 and half miles i normally cycle from Hemel Station to my house. Not only was it up hill, but i also had my back pack with me, which at the time felt like i was carrying rocks. I now ache all over this evening, which means i will NOT be doing that again.

Would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has continued to support me, it does really help and pushes me to achieve this goal. I am almost at my target amount on my Just Giving page and would love to smash that target by Sunday, so please vist my page at: and give as much as you can.

I would also like to ask everyone who is friends with me on facebook to ‘like’ my Nike running status when i am running in the race on Sunday. I get a little cheer through my headphones when you do, and it really lifts me and puts a massive smile on my face.

The race is in Oxford and starts at 9.30am, i anticipate i will be running for a little over two hours, so everyone can have a little lie-in before they give me a little cheer 😀

Thanks again everyone and wish me luck – i’ll let you know how i get on!
Cat x

Paul Nicol standing next to the Mayor of Reading

Paul’s Blog – What a day!

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Hello blog readers. I am detracting from my usual blog spot this week, I wanted to share my day with you. Tuesday 18th September was pretty eventful for me and iCAN Experiences. You may recall me mentioning something about Reading Association for the Blind around 6 weeks ago.

Well after some postponing and rescheduling, I had been lined up to visit Reading Association for the Blind as a guest speaker on their open day. I set out on my journey at 08:45 catching a Taxi to the train station. The taxi was typically 5 minutes late, but we made it in good time for the train! At my change over point, I was informed that my connecting train had been delayed by 10 mins. “stay cool Rodney” I thought to myself. Thankfully the train was only 10 minutes late and I had planned in my usual 30 minutes of slack into a public transport journey, so no worries….much!

I arrived at Reading Association for the Blind at 10:30 and the Mayor of Reading along with Rob Wilson MP were due to turn up any minute in order to cut the tape on a brand spanking new Mini-
bus! I was given a cup of tea, made comfortable in an office whilst people hustled and bustled around me! I met a number of fantastic people from the Association, those that run it and members too. When I wasn’t talking to someone, I was running through my head what I was going to say as a guest speaker! Nervous? Me? Quite!

Then the ribbon on the bus was cut, pictures taken and I was guided into the main room where The Mayor of Reading made a short speech, then Rob Wilson MP. Then it was my turn, “Paul Nicol, founder of
iCAN Experiences and our guest speaker today”. I was handed the microphone and it was over to me! “Um, where do I start?” I asked “Stay cool Rodney!” It took me maybe 4-5 seconds to
actually engage brain and mouth at the same time and I began to talk! Of course, I had a rough idea of what I was going to say, but I had no notes, no way to read notes, so it was pretty much ad-lib!
On the whole, I kep the speech relatively quick, I had the Mayor of Reading at my side, so didn’t want to make her yawn, so I rattled through what I had to say. As I was nearing the end of my little talk, I completely lost my train of thought, not sure if it was excitement at coming to the end or nerves, but I stood there for 5 seconds looking blankly trying to recall what I was going to say! Then I stumbled for a few more seconds as I talked myself towards the end of my speech. I finished using the line “If life deals you Lemons, make Lemonade!”

It was over, the crowd chuckled and clapped as did the Mayor! Success! I then took the opportunity to talk to the Mayor before she was ushered off to talk to someone else. I then took the opportunity to talk to some of the members of Reading Association for the Blind. After about 30 mins of chatting and hob knobbing, I was on my way. It was 12:15 and I had a train to catch at 12:30 from Reading Station.

I was on a tight schedule to get to BBC Broadcasting house by 13:30! I got to Paddington station at 13:10 and was greeted by a member of staff with one of those beeping buggies that I personally hate, although the more I use them, the better they become! “Put your foot down drive, I’ve got to be at the BBC in 20 minutes!” I proffered. Give the man his due, he beeped the horn and I am sure we were going at top speed for the beeping buggy.

I hopped into a black cab, told the cabby where I needed to go along with the subtle hint “I need to be there by 13:30”, the driver proceeded to tell me that earlier that day it had taken 35 minutes! I had 15! I called the Beeb and told them I was on my way.

The driver got me there at around 13:32, fair play to black cab drivers, I shook the man’s hand and hopped out. I was greeted by a nice chap called James who got me signed in and it was his sole job to help people with disabilities within the BBC, I was impressed! The purpose of my visit was to appear on the BBC Radio 4 In Touch program which is a program covering topics and issues for visually impaired people.

I arrived and met Lee Kumutat, the producer of the show “How are you Paul? Feeling harassed?” “ever so slightly” was my response. I could breathe a sigh of relief that I had made it. We were straight into the studio and I was introduced to the other guests on the show, Steph Cutler and Wai-Man Leung. Steph is a personal development and training consultant who is visually impaired with a business called “Making Lemonade”, guess where I got my closing line for my Reading Association for the Blind speech. Wai-Man works for Action for Blind People and someone that had helped me in the early days of my Business Planning.

We recorded the show which would air in the evening at 20:40 and after taking a picture or 2, I was off in a Taxi to return home. I arrived home at just after 17:00 having not eaten anything but a Snickers. I was starving and pleased with the day’s work!

Please do share this with your friends, family and whomever else you think may be interested. Remember to follow us on Twitter @icanexperiences and become a fan on facebook at

Run Forrest Run!!!!

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Wow, where have i been!!!! Sorry guys, heres a long overdue update as to how ive been getting on.

Todays title comes from the various messages i have got from people and how much today reminded me of the film. It was basically me, minus the beard and possy of people in the background – dirty and wet!!

So started off training at the beginning of August and now have just a few weeks until race day! I have slowly clocked up the miles each week and did my longest ever run today – 12.1 miles (unless your a runner you wont understand how much that .1 of a mile is important).

I feel that i have got into my stride now and am enjoying running, and reaching the targets i set always makes me feel great.
As you all know, unless you didnt open your curtains today, is was pouring with ran. which was a new experience to say the least. Even though i invested in wearing a waterproof jacket, i got completely soaked all the way through – and it stopped raining within the last half a mile…..WTF!!

Some might think im mental for running in the pouring rain, but whats if its like that on race day? i hope its not lol as i would not like to repeat today, but at least i know its possible now. I also know that a least three drivers find it hil-arious to purposes drench runners while they drive past you through a massive puddle.

A lot of people have been supporting me, spesh mama and papa Newton 🙂 – and lots of others, including the nice ice-cream van driver who says he always sees me and the dog running together. Thank you to everyone who have taken an invested interest in what im doing and to everyone who has showed support.

I feel about 75%-80% ready for the race, so i stil got a bit of work to do – so please keep supporting me and visit my just giving page:

P.S – if you like my nike running status’ on facebook while im running i get a little chear through my headphones 😀

Paul Nicol at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro

Paul’s Blog – A small scuffle to get Access to Work!

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A quick recap on where we are. So far in my business start-up, I have contacted 3 experience operators, incorporated iCAN experiences LTd, setup a business bank account, signed up an accountant and set the wheels in motion for the website development.

These were the foundations for the business, there was still plenty to do, but this was the bread and butter. When I signed up my Web Developer, we had set a go live date as the 31st May, on hindsight, this wasn’t the best date to pick as in the run up to this date, I had booked a family holiday! As a result, the launch did in fact get delayed by 2 weeks, it was worth waiting for and taking that little longer to ensure that the site was absolutely right!

Over the next 2 months, I had a number of tasks to complete, I had to identify, contact, meet and write up my target of 25 activities. This was going to be the starting point for iCAN experiences, I knew that there were so many experiences and locations that I wanted to get onboard, but as with any business, you can’t enter the market as a fully fledged gift experience provider, you have to start as we did, with a targeted number of experiences in a specific geographical location and then build on this over time.

I included as part of the business plan a growth target and the aim is to offer 40 experiences nationwide by the end of our 2nd year of trading. It’s a tall order, but one I think is achievable if we continue at the current rate adding a new location or new experience every other week!

As someone with a disability, I have access to a government scheme called “Access to work”. The scheme is designed to help businesses with the additional costs that they may be subjected to should they employ someone with a disability. In my case, I need screen reading software to use a computer, this costs around £750. In addition to this, I need a scanner and some software so that I can scan and read printed text such as letters or printed documents. Finally, if your place of work is not located somewhere accessible via public transport, there may be a need for a taxi. Now, some employers may be happy to swallow the costs for this, but equally, some may not. The idea is that the scheme puts me as someone with a disability on an equal playing field as someone without a disability, thus reducing the possibility of potential employers thinking that it is going to cost them more money to employ me given my disability as opposed to some without a disability.

So, as I was starting my own business, I was having to travel to various locations around the country, meeting operators and viewing locations. It was clear that to do this, I was going to need to use a mixture of taxi’s and public transport. I reasoned that if I wasn’t blind that I would simply hop in a car and drive to said location, on that basis, my disability was leaving me at a disadvantage, I was having to pay for public transport and then a taxi to get me to my final destination. This was far more expensive than driving a car!

I got in touch with Access to work, “sorry, we don’t help with business start-up costs” was their initial response. I spent about an hour on the phone to the consultant, making my point, this wasn’t a “Start-up cost” per say, my point was that if I owned my own car, I would fully expect to have to pay for my fuel, tax, insurance etc in order to fulfil these meetings. It took a little persuasion, but eventually we agreed that I would cover the cost of the public transport and 25p for every mile travelled in a taxi, Access to work would then cover the remaining cost of the taxi journeys. This was fantastic news, Access to work didn’t seem to keen initially as the business wasn’t bringing in any money and nor did we have any contracts committing to purchase anything from us, as such, they were reticent to funding my travel. The moral of this story is that Access to Work can and will provide funding if your claim is genuine and your point is valid.

Once I had this funding in place, I was able to start contacting other experience operators to arrange meetings etc. I applied the same logic as per my original 3 operators, I was tackling the next 3 smallest continuing to learn, but able to talk knowledgably about my business and the

As part of signing up these experience operators, I have been incredibly lucky, I have taken part in a number of different experiences myself including an Aerobatic Flight in a PITTS Biplane with Alan Cassidy, a 160ft Bungee Jump, a High Speed ride in a Ferrari, White Water Rafting and probably most memorably, riding pillion on the back of a superbike with Ron Haslam taking me around Silverstone! I’ll tell you more about The superbike journey next week!

All of this sounds like fun and if I’m honest, it was! My wife has been incredibly supportive, as she goes off to work everyday and I’m off gallivanting around the country side! However, it’s not all fun, fun, fun, I have to work incredibly long hours, and most evenings are spent working on my computer and I often have to visit operators at the weekends. One thing is for sure, I love my job, its great being your own boss and it’s even better knowing that iCAN experiences is helping others to enjoy their life no matter what!

Please do share this with your friends, family and whomever else you think may be interested. Remember to follow us on Twitter @icanexperiences and become a fan on facebook at

Paul Nicol Tandem Skydiving

Paul’s Blog – Part way there!

By My story No Comments

Hello Blog readers, if you are reading this, it is quite likely that you are enterting into my blog and story, half way through. Should you wish to read previous blogs of mine, please visit my blog on the iCAN experiences website at

Right, I had to look back at my blog posts to recall where exactly I left things some 3 weeks ago before I started blogging about my Mount Kilimanjaro climb. Before I embarked on the Kilimanjaro climb I had incorporated the business and was looking for experience operators to work with iCAN experiences. I did however forget to mention my Website Development saga….

Back in January 2012, I had done some research and made contact with a number of website developers to try and find a suitable provider for my project. I had put a lot of work into my website brief, being clear on exactly what I wanted, with a particular focus on usability, accessibility and a clean professional look. The accessibility was of particular importance for the “Back end” of the website to ensure that as a user of “JAWS” screen reader, I would be able to manage the content of the website on an ongoing basis. You’d be surprised how many “off the shelf” systems are not accessible to screen readers (Or maybe you wouldn’t!).

Anyhow, I was looking for a developer local to me that could give me what I needed within a budget that I could afford. After many discussions with many providers, I managed to find such a supplier. It was a small outfit and I had a number of meetings with them to get clarity on exactly what was required etc. Then about a week before I was due to leave for Kilimanjaro, it came to signing a contract so that the developer could get started on the work. I read through the contract and found that I had a number of queries on specific points that I felt were unclear or not acceptable to me. I had a conversation with my contact at the company and she informed me that she would need to discuss it with the developer before sending through any amendments, “Okay, no problem” was my response.

The next day I received an email from my contact pulling out of the project with no explanation, just a “We feel it’s best if we go our own separate ways” kind of message. I was astounded by this response! I tried to call and email on a number of occasions throughout the day to understand why, I suggested in voicemails and emails that we can talk and find a way forward, but absolutely no response. At the time, I was fuming, whilst it is absolutely understandable that someone may wish to pull out of a deal, to do so over an email with not even a sensible, adult conversation left me fuming! It was no way to do business, completely unprofessional! Needless to say, I got over it..

On my return from Kili, my priority was to find a new website developer! Now, I am very much a believer that “Everything happens for a reason”, I have had house sales fall through, despite having lost money, I look back on it and think “thank heavens that it did fall through”, I wouldn’t be living in the house I am now, in an area that I am pleased with and with some great neighbours!

So, when I look back at my developer falling through, I think thank heavens! The website development company I have on board now immediately knew what I was after, gave me complete confidence and assurance that everything I wanted could be done without any fuss. The price was right, all be it more expensive than the original developer, but the results I hope you agree are fantastic! I assure you that this is no plug that I write under duress, it is my own personal opinion, I couldn’t recommend Direct Media Design enough.

So, once I had my website developer secured, I was free to concentrate on all the other things. My approach to this was to create what originally seemed like a ridiculously long task list, it had nearly 100 items on it! I then began to prioritise these items and tackle them one at a time. The biggest issue I had was learning about how the industry worked, I had a vague idea of the basic principal, but didn’t know the finer details. So, I carefully selected my first 3 experience operators, looking for the smaller independent operators local to me that I thought would be most amenable to me and what I was trying to achieve.

I was amazed to find that the first three experience operators were all onboard with the idea of iCAN experiences and by the time I had met with all 3 of them, I had a good idea of how the industry worked. This stood me in good stead for any future discussions, I was able to talk to experience operators with confidence, this is an essential part of business, needing to be confident in your idea and the industry, after all, who wants to do business with someone that comes across
as not knowing what they’re talking about?

There were so many other things that I needed to do, creating a logo, seeking legal advice, finding an accountant etc. Next week I will tell you about my mini saga finding a suitable business bank, but I’ll leave you with the advice that my accountant gave me “Treat all banks like theives and you should be fine”, brilliant!

Please do share this with your friends, family and whomever else you think may be interested. Remember to follow us on Twitter @icanexperiences and become a fan on facebook at

Finally, please browse around the site, if you like what you see buy it, if you don’t see anything you like, tell us! We welcome feedback, be it good or bad, we think we are excellent at what we do, but can only continue if you tell us what’s good and what’s not!

All the Best,

Founder – iCAN experiences
Where possibility can become reality!