Chapter 20 — Why I’ve always been inspired to carry on
Our London lunches have always been incredible and, in 1993, when I ruptured my Achilles tendon and had to walk on crutches, I experienced, first hand, how important the club is. Mixing with friends and colleagues outside the club, I experienced prejudice, embarrassment and a message that I had almost ‘let them down’ by becoming physically weak. They hid my crutches when I sat down, as if they were distasteful! Yet, every time I entered an Outsides lunch, I felt the opposite: welcomed, despite my physical condition. People offered me concern but, mixed with it, was humour and a dismissal of the crutches and plaster. They saw ME, AS I AM.
Some of my dearest friends are in Outsiders. I stay with them when I am in London and feel really connected. There is something very special about our club. There is a real feeling of camaraderie.
It also feels friendly and safe. Over the years of running the events, I have felt quite comfortable leaving my handbag lying around, knowing nobody will steal from it. We have stood tall while being blanked, put down and ridiculed by the press, including Disability Now and the Guardian. That kind of thing bonds people together.
I feel there is still much to be done, and keeping the show on the road is a struggle that I will not get the better of me.
Dr Tuppy Owens
19th June 2013