In her usual modest style, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson DME asks me to describe her as an ex-athlete, “I seem to spend most of my time in meetings now” she adds a little wistfully. “I love being outdoors and always trained outside in any weather – wearing thermals and a bobble hat in the winter she laughs. The ex paralympian (14 times medal winner- 9 Gold, and holder of over 30 World Records) tells me she is much more into gardening these days. “I used to just hack everything back, she confesses, but we have recently moved house and have got a lovely mature garden so we have decided not to ruin it. If I didn’t like the look of something I just used to pull it up and then find out it was a plant. Ian (Tanni’s husband) won’t let me have a chainsaw so I have to make do with my hedge cutter, which is quite good for hacking actually!”
“I think I get my hacking skills from my Mother, Dad loved ivy and let it grow everywhere and Mum would keep hacking it back. They weren’t great gardeners, I remember Dad climbing up the apple tree to prune it and getting stuck. Mum just said, “I told you so.”
We are planning to grow some veg in the new garden. My first attempt at tomatoes was using grow bags outside the kitchen window. I used to open the window and throw water at them. I fed them too much or at the wrong time and all the flowers fell off. I s’pose I’m a bit of a random gardener really. We recently bought 10 goldfish for our pond and the next day Carys (10 yrs old) came sauntering in and casually said, ‘well, one’s dead already Mum’.”
“But,” she says proudly, “I am compulsive about recycling and get really annoyed about the amount of packaging used. When I buy new shoes I always refuse to take the box. And I love jumble sales and second hand clothes. My family have always been really embarrassed about it but now the clothes are called ‘vintage’ and it’s cool. They got mad with me when I picked up a jumper I liked and they said, ‘you only brought that in last week’! The worst thing is I have to tell everyone about my bargains. I was at a posh do a couple of weeks ago and someone asked where I got my lovely designer dress from – I had to tell them I only paid £2 for it from a Charity Shop. I think it’s a Welsh thing – I just can’t keep it to myself!”
One of Tanni’s new ventures has been co-designing a range of clothes for disabled children and adults. The new Tanni&Anni Range at Rackety’s caters for people with special needs, disabilities and wheelchair users, all of whom have busy and exciting lives. “People in wheelchairs used to have to have their coats put on back to front,” explains Tanni, “which is a bit humiliating to be honest.”
Children’s T-shirts have funky messages such as ‘Wicked on Wheels’ and ‘There’s no need to stare, I know I’m cool!’ Check out http://www.tanniandanni.com/ for the full range or call 01538381430
Running for Marie Curie Cancer Care
I first met Tanni at the launch of last year’s BUPA Great Welsh Run. Typically, as she was no longer competing as a professional athlete, she was mischieviously threatening to dress up as a chicken to complete the course. Unfortunately she can’t make this year’s race, tomorrow (27th) but I will be running again, with celebrities from Eastenders, Emmerdale, This Morning and of course, Lynn ‘the Leap’ Davies. We are all proud to be raising money and awareness for Marie Curie Cancer Care and would love to see you there. Join us at Cardiff Bay at 9.30am Sunday 27th to cheer us on our way and pop into http://www.mariecurie.org.uk/ for more information.
Did You Know?
National Parks Week runs from the 28th July until 3rd August, promoting Wales’s Brecon Beacon’s National Park and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, amongst others. You are encouraged to join in the many activities on offer during the week and simply enjoy the beautiful scenery and surroundings.
Children were asked “Who likes shepherd’s pie, Sunday roast and kebabs?”
“We do!” They cried
“Where do they come from?” they were asked
“The shops!” was the reply.
National Parks Week is celebrating the year of Food and Farming and reconnecting people to the landscape that provides their food and local produce. Visit www.nationalparks.gov.uk