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Portrait of Lauren

Introducing… New Blogger 14 year old Lauren Jessica

By Disability, Lifestyle, My story No Comments

Portrait of Lauren About Me.

Hi. I’m Lauren Jessica. I’m 14 years old and I have a condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2, or SMA2 for short. This means that I am confined to a wheelchair and cannot weight bare at all. I have struggled with my emotional side for a while now, and I am still battling. I find it hard to confide in people and I’m not a big talker unless I’m around my closest friends, or talking to people over the internet.

  Here I am. 🙂

I’m blonde, I have blue eyes, and I LOVE bright colours. My favourite kind of music is heavy metal/rock and I love cats.

Things I find difficult/that anger me:

  • Curbs that don’t have a lowered side so I can cross the road.
  • Friends houses that I can’t get into due to steps outside.
  • Being confined to my wheelchair and not being able to move myself without assistance. 

Things that I enjoy/make me happy:

  • Being able to be a strong minded individual.
  • Having freedom.
  • Caring for others/making other people happy.
  • People that offer great advice and somebody that’s a great listener!

I’d like to think that I’m a good listener and that I’m able to give substantial advice.

I also believe that I’m a kind and bubbly person.

a woman's back, the top of her black lacy knickers is visible and a man is undoing her black lace bra

Sexuality, Sensuality, Surrogates & Stripping Off (by Bella Hoy)

By Disability, Lifestyle, My story 2 Comments

Feeling like a sexual being, particularly with a physically disabling condition, can be something that society tries to rob you of. Relatives and carers may see sexuality as one of the last things to worry about with any given condition and those with disabilities can be left confused and uneducated about their bodies.

But denying perfectly natural sexual feelings can lead to frustration, loss of self worth and lack of confidence. Where there may not be the presence of a partner, sex therapists and surrogates can help delicately over come the personal issues associated with relationships and sexual discovery. While sex therapists work on the psychological and emotional problems a client may have concerning sex, a sex surrogate combines this while also working physically with the clients body. As vital an experience this has been for many disabled people, surrogacy has also proven to be a minefield of moral debate and a legal grey area. As the current UK law stands, sex work is legal as long as it is between two consensual adults and it is done privately. However, the socially ingrained image conjured up at the mere mention of a sex worker seems to be one of a vulnerable young woman. This then leads onto a whole separate, and rightly important, debate about women’s rights. But sex work is not a black and white issue, and where the system can be abused in horrifying ways, the good that can come of it when used responsibly is unmatched. It can empower and emotionally reward the workers (both female AND male) who CHOOSE this profession and it is no over statement to say that the work they do can essentially change their clients’ lives.

The hit 2012 film The Sessions starring Helen Hunt brought to life the thought provoking true story of the late poet-writer-activist Mark O’Brien. Originally an article written by him in the Eighties, it chronicles his emotional and physical journey with a surrogate. Mark contracted polio at a young age and was severely disabled from it, spending a large chunk of his life in an iron lung, a large machine encompassing his whole body to aid with breathing. He had sex for the first time at the age of 36. Because of his disability and his families’ Catholic moral code he was left with the assumption ‘that people should emulate the asexuality of Barbie and Ken.’

Finally feeling able to confront his inner demons, after just his first talk with a sex therapist, Mark felt that he ‘could take charge of [his] sexuality and cease thinking of it as something alien.’ After much deliberation, overcoming life long reservations about his body and the unfamiliarity of the opposite sex, he eventually has sessions with a surrogate. He learns that ‘sex is a part of ordinary living, not an activity reserved for gods, goddesses and rock stars,’ and emotionally recalls after his first sexual experience: ‘For the first time, I felt glad to be a man.’ His surrogate uses a variety of techniques and exercises with him in order to explore and feel secure in his body such as simple body massage. One of the most moving parts of the article is when his surrogate strokes his hair and tells him that it feels nice. Mark is emotionally mature enough to realise that his surrogate is not a full relationship replacement and usually they limit the sessions they have with a client so this type of bond does not form. Yet her simple words give Mark a kind of boost that he’d never experienced before, and he interestingly feels that, ‘having at least one attractive feature helped me to feel more confident.’

Picture from the film SessionsHis story shows just how beneficial this work can be and through the surrogates, clients can learn that being confident, sensual and sexual doesn’t necessarily have to come from other people’s perceived perceptions. It instead could be regarded as an internal attitude shift and a gradual acceptance of self, but of course nobody is saying that comes easy. Insecurities are an inevitable part of human nature time to time, but the niche practices of Naturists (or Nudists) are in a different league of acceptance.

Maybe we could all take a leaf out of their free hanging book and learn to flaunt our form, no matter what shape it’s in. It may sound extreme, and perhaps not for everyone, but it has been suggested that more people with disabilities could learn to embrace the naked way of life. Not only does it help people get used to their bodies in a non-sexualised atmosphere, it can even be more practical and enjoyable whilst partaking in activities such as swimming which require awkward changing rituals. Naturists are a friendly and never judgmental bunch, occasionally misunderstood; they are always willing to show new people what they’re all about.

At the risk of sounding too flowery, sensuality can start with just being in tune to the world around you. Appreciating touch, sights and smells in everyday life can all help with getting to know your body, and far from being afraid of it, understand its power. As Mark discovered, sexual exploration is not a luxury and is just as fundamental and natural as eating or breathing. Knowing your own personal wants, needs and boundaries is essential before even considering a partner. And once those things are established, it can be hard to resist someone with that much self-respect.

Read more about the late Mark O’Brien’s film via the link below.

Sex Surrogacy and Disability on the Silver Screen

· – Designed to connect disabled people to responsible sex workers, they have profiles of many surrogates from around the country, a forum and further links related to disability and sex.



Caroline Dempsey

I started escorting about 15 years ago… (Blog 2) by Caroline Dempsey

By Disability, Lifestyle, My story, The Love Lounge No Comments

Caroline Dempsey

I ended my last blog with a poem, written from the heart (by a songwriter, not me!), about how wonderful a gift that giving is.  Some joke that giving is selfish, because it feels so good to do it.  For me, that’s the right way to give; no strings, unconditionally.  When I visit a client as an escort, I feel excitement, not just sexual, but like I do when I give someone a present and I can’t wait for them to open it, to see the look on their face, hoping they’ll like it!

I want my clients to be happy, of course.   But I try to understand their needs as early on as I can, whatever they are, and some requests I get are as uncomplicated as ‘being held’.  So I try to feel connected to my clients as soon as possible, so they get the best of me, get what’s best for them, and I can do as they ask.  That way, we both enjoy the experience and give to each other.  I like to have a chat on the phone first to find out what they want, so when I arrive, the ice is broken, sort of thing, and they can let me know if there are any particular requirements that’ll make my visit the best it can be.

I do believe, though, that a really important thing is, if it’s at all possible, to be able to ask for what you want.  We can’t be truly ‘present’ if we’re distracted by thoughts of something, even as simple as needing to go to the bathroom, or wanting a drink of water, or wanting to move a part of the body to get more comfortable.  And if our needs are more like, “I wish I could be kissed like this,” “I wish we could just cuddle,” or “I would like to know how to please her/him, but I don’t know how to say it,” then sharing the message becomes even more important.  But things like this can be difficult for someone to convey, perhaps if speech is difficult, or if it’s been some time since intimacy, if ever, in which case, the right words may not exist.  How could they?  Shyness, embarrassment, fear of rejection; these are all things that can prevent us from speaking out.  But I always find a way in the end!  Just with a little mutually exchanged patience, usually.

Caroline DempseyOften, our conditioning has taught us that asking for what we want is wrong, especially if it’s very personal to us, and particularly if it’s to do with sex.  Many of us were taught that sex shouldn’t be spoken openly about, should be kept private, perhaps it’s rude or dirty.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are a million ways to give and receive pleasure.  As many as you can think up.   But the same reasons that prevent us from speaking out can also prevent us from finding ways to give and receive pleasure, whether with another or on our own.  It’s our right to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh – everybody’s right, we deserve pleasure!  I’m just sorry that more don’t recognise this – it’s important to the well-being of everyone.  Sex is a great healer.  But also sex isn’t about ‘performance’.  It’s about taking time to really feel and enjoy the other person, really wanting to please, taking time to understand and find out what makes them glow.   And it’s just as important to know how to pleasure ourselves, using feeling, wanting, and time, for ourselves, in just the same way.

I’ve recently begun visiting an older gent in his own home who has had mobility problems for many years now, due to an operation that went wrong.  He’s such a lovely man and very spritely for his advanced years and for someone who can’t get about!  He talks to me about his family, makes me tea and offers me cakes.  He also makes sure there’s plenty of time for pleasure.  There’s no intercourse, but that doesn’t matter.  And thank goodness he understands that there’s no expectation of performance.  It’s just the mutual exchange of caring, love and respect.  My clients are so special.  They’re all so different and mean so much to me.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a lovely guy who’s been wheelchair-bound for 20 years due to a scuba-diving accident.  He’s 42 now and lives in the care of a Leonard Cheshire facility.  He was pronounced brain-dead and was in a coma for six months.  He’s a miracle!  He can’t walk or stand unaided and needs full-time care.  However, he hasn’t experienced any kind of intimacy since before his accident and he has, as you can imagine, missed it!  So not only has he had to contend with coming back to life, coming to terms with his disability, and maintaining as healthy a life as possible, but he also has all the feelings that a red-blooded male has.  Of course he does!  I was privileged to be his first sexual experience in all that time and it was passionate, and lovely.   We chatted at first, got to know each other and had a few laughs about different things.  He has a positive and inquisitive mind and keeps himself busy writing, amongst other things, and swimming when he can.

I consider myself fortunate to be in the sex industry, I’m taught so much, but I’m saddened at just how closed people are when it comes to discussing the needs of those who can’t make their own arrangements, like the guy I just mentioned.  Arranging my visit to him wasn’t made easy because there’s no way to facilitate it.  It should be a simple procedure so that disabled and those cared for are able to have as normal a sex life as the rest of us.

I mentioned in my last blog about carers at the care home I visit my gentleman with cerebral palsy not making eye contact with me.  I can appreciate that they may be embarrassed, but I would love them to engage with me, so I could speak to them about their clients’ needs.  I could help them understand that their residents aren’t asexual, and how easy it would be for them to help.  I suppose it’s because I’m older, but I find it hard to think of someone in the ‘caring’ profession denying their clients something as natural as eating, breathing and sleeping.   I can feel a soapbox moment coming on……

Caroline Dempsey

I started escorting about 15 years ago… (by Caroline Dempsey)

By Disability, Lifestyle, My story, The Love Lounge No Comments

Caroline DempseyI started escorting about 15 years ago. I needed to make some money to get out of debt and so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s not for everyone, but somehow I knew I could do it – and enjoy it.  I was living in Manchester at the time and called a random number from the Manchester Evening News. I spoke to a lovely lady who eventually took me under her (mature) wing and guided me through the early months until I gained confidence.  At this, I signed up with three agencies, got the work and got out of debt. For me it was ideal. I had a full time job which acted as a professional facade for me and escorted in my spare time, which built my confidence, self-esteem and bank balance.

A few years on, I fell in love with a client. All very ‘Pretty Woman’-style. He swept me off my feet and I thought he was the sliced bread. Obviously he didn’t want me to continue escorting, so I didn’t – for almost eight years – during which time, we reached our fun and sexual peak together, then gradually slid down the muddy hillside into a swamp of disrespect and, ultimately, the end of the relationship. By this time, I felt empty, unloved and unappreciated, but realised it was my own fault for hanging on for so long.  I’m sure he felt exactly the same, but we weren’t communicating by then and didn’t realise how much we were hurting each other. We saw the signs and ignored them. Everything’s a lesson, though.

Still, all that’s behind me, thank goodness, and in fact, we’re friends now!  Where’s this leading? Well, after I’d grieved the loss of being in a couple (even though it wasn’t nurturing, I still missed ‘something’), I found myself wandering back to thoughts of escorting. Some years older, yes, but my attitude towards the art itself had altered. I wanted to go back to it, but, because I was more mature, and because my love of people in general had increased a thousand-fold, I realised I wanted to do it for giving, not for taking.

Please let me explain myself. During my early years, I had a mixture of clients, some able-bodied and others who weren’t so. I always gave of my best, and never got any complaints, but on thinking back, I also realised that my thoughts towards them were no different. Not in any way whatsoever. Nevertheless, the money got was very important, as this was helping my personal cause.

Caroline DempseyComing to the present day, I’m happy to say I have a number of clients whom I have the greatest respect for, whatever their wishes and, again, they are a mixture of bodies. But what’s driving me more and more these days is my frustration at the fact that so little attention is given, and respect paid, to the needs of those not physically able to contact a sex worker, and, in many cases those who’re unable to self-pleasure.

I’m disappointed that, when I visit the care home to see a lovely gentleman with cerebral palsy, the carers won’t make eye contact with me. He, himself, was concerned that he’d be embarrassed in front of the staff about my visits, yet was desperate for some intimacy. His dignity is vehemently maintained, of course, and he and I share some wonderful time together.

Intimacy – a beautiful word.  Most people think it means sex, but there are many levels to intimacy, even before nudity or touching of skin on skin.  Sex – another beautiful word, also with many meanings. My heart goes into my work, whatever the ability of my client. My client is the only person on the earth when we’re together. It’s their time; whether we’re talking, holding hands, kissing, caressing, or having intercourse – and everything in between. Notice I didn’t say ‘just’ at any point. There’s no ‘just’ about people connecting. Every single one of us deserves it; human contact; affection; intimacy; friendship with benefits; however you term it. When we experience it, we feel high on natural elixir. It’s the best healing we can give, and in giving, we receive. I’m grateful for the opportunity to constantly learn from my clients.

Here’s a beautiful poem about this very subject:

I never feel more given to than when you take from me, when you understand the joy I feel giving to you.

And you know my giving isn’t done to put you in my debt, but because I want to live the love I feel for you.

To receive with grace may be the greatest giving.

There’s no way I can separate the two.

When you give to me, I give you my receiving.

When you take from me, i feel so given to.

Nice, eh?

Andy Trollope

Meet Andy Trollope – Professional Moto X Racer to Wheelchair user to Water Ski Instructor

By Disability, Lifestyle, My story, News 5 Comments

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 15.31.56Life was good for Andy Trollope, running his own business Brunel Motors and enjoying a successful career as as professional moto x racer.

Although it was hard juggling a full time job and competing at the highest level he thrived on the satisfaction sustained from leading a very busy and active life. On the 27th of July 2008 that all changed while competing at a British championship race meeting Andy had a very slow speed crash which changed his life for ever.

He broke his back and damaged his spinal cord leaving Andy a T5 paraplegic, which basically means that he was left paralysed from the chest down with no feeling or movement below the chest.

Andy says that very early in his rehab he was told by his case manager that there were two options to deal with his injury: give up and sit around doing nothing or grasp life and live it to the full. This may sound harsh but Andy says this was the best advice ever given to him.

He worked hard during his rehab at Stoke Mandeville Spinal Unit and was discharged four months later. A month after discharge Andy was easing his way back into work and exploring the many sporting options available to a full time wheel chair user. After trying virtually every sport out there he was struggling to find anything that gave him the exhilaration he found from moto x. That was until a year after his accident he went on a skiing trip and learnt how to mono ski.

He now takes yearly trips to the USA to compete, teach and enjoy the freedom being able to free ski unaided. It was through skiing that Andy found out about adapted water skiing. Between these two sports Andy at last had now found two sports that gave him the adrenalin rush that he so desperately craved. Andy Trollope

Andy is now a fully qualified water ski instructor. He regularly teaches people with many different disabilities from spinal cord injuries, visual impairment and learning difficulties which Andy says he finds just as rewarding if not more so than skiing for himself.

Andy is now back at work full time working as both a mechanic and continuing with the day to day running of Brunel Motors. He became involved with Enhance the UK after a chance meeting with the founder of Enhance Jennie Williams at the mobility road show in 2011 when she asked him to fill out a questionnaire about the difficulties of forming relationships and dating from a wheelchair users perspective.

This was the first time Andy had heard of anyone trying to approach and help people with the sometimes daunting prospect of dating and forming relationships for people with disabilities and was immediately impressed with the concept. After keeping in touch with Jennie and finding out about all the other ways Enhance was trying to break down the barriers educate people about many different disabilities, not just in dating but in everyday life, he was very keen to get involved in anyway that he could help.

In 2012 Andy was made a Trustee of Enhance and is very passionate about the need to spread the word about the great work that Enhance are doing. In his own words Andy said, “I believe that the need for education and advice that Enhance The UK can offer people with or with out a disability is invaluable and as a fultime wheel chair user i think that i can offer another perspective to help get this message out there.”

Paul Nicol standing next to the Mayor of Reading

Paul’s Blog – What a day!

By Lifestyle, My story No Comments

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

Paul Nicol at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro

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

By Lifestyle, My story No Comments

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!

Paul’s Blog – Welcome

By My story No Comments

Hello and welcome Enhance supporters and blog readers.

I thought I had better begin my Enhance the UK blog posts by introducing myself and telling you a little about me and what you can expect from my blog’s.

So, my name is Paul Nicol and I am lucky enough to sit on the board of Trustees for Enhance the UK. I was born in 1978, making me the ripe age of 34 at the time of writing this post. I am completely blind and have been for around 7 years. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful wife who has given me the most amazing daughter who is now two and a half years old.

Jennie first approached me when she was planning to incorporate Enhance the UK and asked if I would come onboard as a trustee. Jennie described her vision for Enhance, what she thought could be achieved and why it was important to set the charity up. This struck a chord with me, primarily due to my personal situation with blindness; I knew that my background in I.T would mean that I could help Enhance from a technical perspective as well.

From a personal perspective, I like to think of myself as a genuine, nice guy who enjoys meeting new people and also likes a challenge. When I began to lose my sight, I started looking for some kind of activity/hobby that I could do. What actually transpired was that I enjoyed trying new weird and wonderful activities. I started trying things like Sphereing, Tandem Skydives, aerobatic flights and more.

Earlier this year, I started my own business, it was an incredible step for me to take, but an opportunity that I knew would not come up again. I now run my own business called iCAN experiences. iCAN experiences is a gift experience provider that is aimed squarely at people with disabilities. It’s a completely unique idea and something that is sorely lacking from the industry. My goal is quite simple, I want to help more disabled people get out there and try new, fun and sometimes exciting activities!

From my blog you can expect to read regular posts on my journey on taking iCAN experiences forward, gaining an insight to the challenges we are faced with and how these are overcome. You will learn a little about me personally and from time to time I may add a little in about Enhance, however, if you want to know about Enhance, it’s definitely worth following Jennie as she will tell you things as they happen!

For now, I will leave it there, but do check back to read my regular posts.

If you’re interested in seeing what iCAN experiences is all about, please do pop along to the website at

Look after yourselves,


Blog 1 of ‘Coxy vrs Foxy’ aka The Brighton Marathon 2013

By Lifestyle, My story One Comment

Juice 107.2

Right here we go then, a blog in the build up to The Brighton Marathon 2013. You can see in my Bio bit that Im taking on my co-presenter Foxy in what will be her 2nd Brighton marathon and my first ever marathon.

So over the coming months and weeks I’l keep you updated on how the preperation is coming along right up until the actual event. It seems a few others are getting on the marathon band waggon and wil lbe blogging as well, so firstly good luck to you, but not heaps of luck just enough so you finish. We might have a little internal competiton happening. Although I’m not competitive, I just don’t like losing…

Training thus far: I’ve run 10k several times with a Personal Best of 52minutes and 36 seconds. Mr Mo Farah won gold in about 26 minutes, so if I get twice as first I’ll be entering the Rio Olympics in 4 years. Anyway after his antics recently, he’s my hero. I’m going to run this in honour of Mo.

That’s my intro then…

Of course I’m running for Enhance. Basically because I get a free kit out of it…