Danielle Schofield from Wotton-Under-Edge started ballet when she was 3 years old at Ruth Osborne School of Dancing purely for something to do. Who was to know that good toes naughty toes would lead to where she is now? It wasn’t until a few years later she started learning tap and modern too. A young Danie started doing her grades and exams, finding herself wanting to progress more and more so would do 3 or 4 sessions a week to allow practice in all genres.
Street dance became another contender for Danie during secondary school with Di King and Edge Street Dance. When paired with Georgie Arkell the pair won competitions as a duo for 4 years running.
Danielle completed her GCSE’s in 2011 and she knew they had to go well to allow her to study a level 3 diploma in Dance at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College. During her time at SGS she even had experience with the Royal Ballet and at Heart radio carnivals through the cheerleading. How did she have time for all of this and still do so well, finishing the course with a triple distinction.
Judith Hockaday College of Dance and Drama came next for Danie in 2013. Studying here allowed her time to continue climbing up the grades. Whilst at Judith Hockadays National Dance was added to her ever developing portfolio, allowing the dancer to learn a variety of cultural genres too. Danie said “I feel like Judith Hockadays was the right stepping stone needed to get more experience before looking at further training in performing arts. It was to help me progress and become stronger”. To date she has got her Diploma in dance instruction to teach others who are where she used to be, trying to get to where she is. Not only is she battling to realise her dreams, she is helping others to do the same.
A degree in performing arts is the final door before she can enter the professional Musical Theatre world. How can she work to make her wishes come true? Offers from SLP (College of performing arts in Leeds), Bodywork (Performing arts in Cambridge) and Performers College (Essex) have already come through and she is soon to audition for URDANG (London) but to be able to accept these places she will require financial support and there is no government funding available for the performer.
As cliche as it sound every little helps. If you enjoy being able to go and see a Musical Theatre production performers like Danie need help to make it as a professional. Can you help this local girl fulfill her potential? You can find out more by visiting her website www.dontwishforit.weebly.com or www.gofundme.com/dontwishforit.
Can you imagine the courage it must take to turn away from friends and family who are stumbling on the word “goodbye” and crying as you leave for who knows how long for? Can you begin to apprehend the fear you would have to face whilst trying not to shut your eyes when they say “stay with me”? Can you even consider how much strength it would take knowing that all this could happen and that you may never get to see those at home waiting to say “hello” again?
When they faced that unthinkable moment Dave Henson and Michael Hall’s lives were turned upside down. But they got to say that “hello” not only to their loved ones, but too a whole new adventure; becoming Potential Paralympic athletes. They are two of many heroes who have gone from representing their country in the forces, to representing their country as athletes.
Michael’s role in the army was The Reece Regiment which required him spying on the enemy without them knowing, a job that takes a lot of skill and time. Much like the sport he competes in now; Archery.
But how did he get from the Army to Archery?
Running and completing assault courses with 22 kilograms on his back as well as a radio was common practice for Michael. How was he to know that falling off a rope bridge 15 years ago would result in breaking his neck in two places and back in seven.
“I know I'm still in a wheelchair but I can do anything. Sport played a vital role in my rehab it's made me realise that I can do anything, I've done ironmans, triathlons and I biked from Edinburgh to London”.
But this just wasn’t enough for Michael. He wanted to take on bigger challenges like the Invictus Games that was hosted last September, and achieved more than he could have imagined. He came away with a bronze and gold medal to show for it. After a year of representing his country as part of the Archery GB Para Team, and has a gold medal from his debut shoot wearing the GB flag shirt at a World Archery event too, he now has his sights set on the Paralympics in Rio next year - pardon the pun!
Being in charge of 6 other soldiers is a huge responsibility, as well as having others deployed elsewhere in Afghanistan on top of that. So who was watching Dave Henson’s back the day he stood on an Improvised Explosive Device; IED?
Dave and his troops were searching for a compound that had been used by Taliban. He triggered the booby trap that took both of his legs. If Dave hadn’t have done this, farmers would have began using the land again and triggered it themselves, which could have had even more devastating effects than it did.
So similarly to Michael, how did Dave get from the trenches to the track?
“When I was in the Army running was my main method of keeping fit. I loved the feeling of freedom when you're out on a run, it really helps clear the mind, and the physical benefits are obvious, so I knew it was something I wanted to get back into if I could. I got my running blades exactly 10 months to the day after I lost my real ones, and that first day, the feeling of freedom they gave was just incredible”.
Not only was Dave the Captain for Great Britain at the Prestigious Invictus Games last summer,he was also promoted from Lieutenant to Captain in a work manor when returning to work after his injury.
Dave is now a British Athletics Blade Runner and competes internationally, most recently at the IPC World Championships in Doha. He is currently preparing for the Invictus Games next year and potentially the Rio Paralympic games too!
So the Invictus Games; What is it and where did it come from? Prince Harry himself is the reason for such a prestigious event. After visiting America in 2013 he realised what sport meant to injured service people and wanted to find a suitable way to honour these brave men and women. Naturally it was London that hosted the first Invictus Games September 2014 and the foundation are busy planning the next Games in Orlando 2016.
When Prince Harry announced the next games he said “For every competitor last September, there are hundreds of others around the world who would benefit from having the same opportunity. I wanted other cities and countries to look at the competition - what it meant to those taking part and those who saw it - and take up the challenge for the next Invictus Games”.
“Just do it it is good fun and it is awesome being disabled does not stop you doing anything” is what Michael would say to people who are going through the process he had to so that he could get to where he is today. Dave Henson said “It really was an exhibition of determination, spirit, strength and camaraderie. Obviously to be nominated as the British team captain was the icing on the cake really, it was such an honour to be a voice, a representative of those amazing people on my team; one of my proudest honours”.
The word invictus means unconquered which definitely sums up Michael, Dave and all the other service people who are now athletes. So whether it is their “Road to Rio” or their “Adventure to America”. There is so much more to come for these heroes.