Tag Archives: Lydiard Park

Running for friendship and survival – with Omer Homer and Bella Mackie

7 May Bella and Omer

When it comes to running, it seems most of us fall into two camps; running to escape thoughts and feelings or running towards a goal.

Omer Homer, a training Para Olympian hopeful, firmly falls into both. He runs to win but acknowledges that running has made him a different person. Omer started running in 2017, his target to win the Swindon Half Marathon – an ambitious goal given Omer had never run before, had no former training and has severe injuries from an encounter with an exploding landmine. However, Omer completed the Swindon Half Marathon in just 1hr 22min 49 sec and ranked in the top 1% of runners.

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A Humble Champion – Jo Pavey at Swindon Festival of Literature

8 May

LitFest_18050701_Jo_Pavany_Running_0008If ever anyone was able to brag about their achievements it would be Jo Pavey: World Champion, mother of two children, and author.

Instead she is Jo, an honest down-to-earth individual who admitted to only raising her arms halfway up in 2014 at the 10,000m World Championships, due to her disbelief in having won and her fear of being judged when wearing running gear on the school run.

Jo speaks as freely as she runs, her responses and stories at times emerging at the same pace but absorbing nonetheless. A runner since she was 13 years old, Jo never voiced her desire to pursue athletics professionally. Born into an active but not sporting family she was recommended to an Athletics Club by her PE teacher, with a neighbour assisting with the transport due to her parents caring for younger siblings.

Love, irrespective of discipline and circumstance, never leaves. Jo continued to run throughout her studies in Physiotherapy at Bristol University and a six-month backpacking trip around the world with her future husband, Gavin. Silently continuing her training and pursuing her desire to become a professional athlete, Jo ran through the sights as opposed to walking: ascending volcanoes, passing through fields of kangaroos, and stopping at sports fields in New Zealand for impromptu training sessions. Continue reading

From Aristocratic playground to American Hospital and Beyond – Lydiard House

2 May
Sarah Finch-Crisp

Sarah Finch-Crisp with Festival Director Matt Holland ©Calyx Picture Agency

Today was not the first time I’ve got soaked en route to a Swindon Festival of Literature event. I’m soooo glad I bought those new flip flips in the most recent Debenham’s Blue Cross Sale. Sigh.

So when my sodden self staggered into the room in the Lydiard House conference centre where the talk on the story of Lydiard House and Park was being held it was already pretty full. By the time the talk commenced it was standing room only.

Such a level of interest is unsurprising of course. In a town full of treasures of every kind Lydiard House and Park has to be Swindon’s equivalent to the Koh-i-Noor diamond. Both are much loved and the latter is much used. And, given the recent hullabaloo around SBC’s suggestion that management of it all go out to private tender, and everything around that, (to simplify the story somewhat) there was ever likely to be a big turnout.

The 260 acres of parkland we have today is what’s left of several thousand acres. Its survival is little short of miraculous. It’s extraordinary. And even better it’s in Swindon.

The fact that we’ve got it at all is largely down to the visionary town clerk David Murray John – he of the tower in the town centre. Facilitated by the philanthropy of Councillor Francis Akers who used his own money to temporarily buy the house and park in 1943, DMJ ensured the safety and preservation of Lydiard. And all at a time of graver national concerns. So thank goodness for them.

So what did I get from Ms Finch-Crisp to make my soaking worthwhile? Continue reading

Sweaty and smells of fish – Nell McAndrew at Swindon Festival of Literature

5 May

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It’s not an admission you’d expect from the 16th Sexiest Woman In the World (FHM Magazine, 2003) but if you meet Nell McAndrew in the school playground, chances are she’ll be sweaty and smell slightly of mackerel.

The original Lara Croft, Tomb Raider – she was the face of the arcade game franchise three years before Angelina Jolie claimed the ponytail in the movie spin-off – and the fourth most popular contestant in the first series of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Nell was at Lydiard Park to talk about her new book, Nell McAndrew’s Guide to Running. Continue reading