An Ability Bow gym member living with incurable multiple myeloma cancer who has made an incredible recovery from being in a wheelchair for 14 months to walking again, shone on Sunday 28 October as part of our Team Ability Bow's aim to raise at least £1,000 as part of the team’s 2018 Big Fun Run entry.
Albie Ollivierre, 57 - from Old Ford Road in Bow who was in hospital for seven and a half months following his diagnosis (a bone marrow cancer with symptoms including weak bones and fatigue) - walked the 5k route in Victoria Park for the fourth time since joining our disabilities and long term health conditions rehabilitation gym, Ability Bow, in 2014.
The former choreographer and professional dancer - who has worked and taught at famous musical theatre venues such as The Royal Opera House and Sadler's Wells - joined our gym's Big Fun Run team at 11am on the day, which also featured the gym's director and founder, Victoria Kent and marketing and communications coordinator, Stuart Wilson; alongside other supporters on the day including BUPA digital communications manager, Andrew Byron.
Donating to Albie and Team Ability Bow
To find out more about how you can donate to Albie and Team Ability Bow - visit the Team Ability Bow 2018 Big Fun Run page>>
Albie's Life-changing recovery at our gym
Visiting various hospitals for chemotherapy treatment once a month, Albie began to develop his physical strength at Ability Bow by undertaking long-term one-to-one exercise sessions, working with a home-based physio - as well as on core/balance and strength sessions - and progressing to walking unaided after using wooden sticks.
Partially paralysed and with weakness to his lower limbs, Albie's work with the Ability Bow highly advanced instructor team including Si Mohamed Dahiri, Tony Snook and Patrick Trotman, has he says, been a life-changing experience.
Albie says: "I doubt I'd even be here if it wasn't for the amazing work of the team and its trainers at Ability Bow.
“While I sometimes need a stick to aid my mobility after specific hospital treatment, the fact I can walk unaided if I want to is amazing. One can’t underestimate the great work of Ability Bow, as they give you the confidence to feel empowered and as many people feel lost and isolated when diagnosed with cancer, being here removes that feeling and gives you hope.
"My experience here at Ability Bow has been truly life-changing because the nearest place I could otherwise go to access the physical fitness training I need would I believe, be in Stanmore. So to have somewhere like this so near is vital.
“I also know that as part of my journey, I want to pay huge respect to some of the long-term Ability Bow members such as Malka, Janet, Barbara and Rebecca, all of whom helped to encourage, support and advise me. Without them and all the team, I don’t think I would’ve progressed to the level I am today.”
Watch Albie's Story
Building One-To-One At Ability Bow
Competing in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Big Fun Run events, Albie - who has generated around £2,000 for Ability Bow through previous years of Big Fun Run fundraising - decided to give back to us as part of our gym's ongoing aims of building and fundraising for, a new one-to-one service.
After benefiting from more than 12 weeks of one-to-one exercise as part of a past gym programme, Albie is aware any one-to-one rehab sessions - which will provide an individual gym member with instructor-led and tailored exercise and emotional support for more than 12 weeks - are vital to the physical and mental recovery of our gym (which helps 400 disabled people into exercise each year) and its members.
Albie - who trained as a dancer at Trinity Laban in south London in the 1980s and who has learnt various different dance styles ranging from ballet, jazz and African - adds: "The one-to-one service has been able to help so many people build a life for themselves mentally as well as physically.
"Ability Bow empowers you to make the smallest changes such as going outside like I do to walk in the park or see dance shows I enjoy, when previously I and many others here may never have thought would be possible and which you can easily take for granted.
“There’s such a great representation of people with different needs, age groups and there’s no judgement at Ability Bow and the fact I’m only competing with myself in this setting compared to maybe some commercial gyms which can sometimes be too competitive, makes it such a special place and why people should donate to our ‘family’.”
Fitter And Stronger For Longer
Running a variety of specialist activities for people with numerous conditions - ranging from the new Positive Steps mental health-led sessions with City and Hackney Recovery College - Ability Bow works with people living with Multiple Sclerosis and recovering from strokes, as well as providing support for members with hearing impairments in our DeafAbility sessions.
Ability Bow Director and Founder, Victoria Kent - who developed our charity gym in 2006 which has seen more than 4,000 disabled people use the Bow-based facility at St Paul's Church on St Stephen's Road since its creation - said: "The commitment of our gym members, supporters, trustees, volunteers and staff for events like this and throughout the year is extraordinary.
"We're passionate about people and highlighting Albie's remarkable achievements at our gym and as part of our great Big Fun Run team, is vital in continuing to develop increasing awareness and consistent funds for new service delivery within Tower Hamlets and beyond; which we believe can keep communities and our members fitter and stronger for longer."