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Paralympics week, blacksmithing - and a special kind of friendship…

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Ollie blacksmithingParalympics week, Blacksmithing - and a special kind of friendship…

Colin and Ollie forge ahead together (sorry!)

As the Paralympics open in Rio I am freshly awed by the incredible fortitude, determination and sheer achievement of certain ‘special’ human beings.

Craftsmanship, too, means striving for excellence as an intrinsic virtue (Aristotle); a way of life open to all human beings, whatever challenges they face.

Thank you to Polly at Strawberry Steel Blacksmithing courses for getting in touch with this lovely tale of the long-lasting friendship between blacksmith Colin Comrie and 20 year old Ollie, who has Down's Syndrome.

‘Colin and I at Strawberry Steel are very proud of the new forge we have and the growing success of Colin's Blacksmithing Experience Days in Claverham, North Somerset.’ says Polly.

‘With the help of the Craft Courses website we are attracting growing numbers to the forge.

‘Last week however, was a special week for Colin, as Ollie and Colin discussing techniquehe was able to give a Blacksmithing Experience Day to a young 20 year old lad who has Down's Syndrome - Ollie.

‘Colin has a long standing history with Ollie as he used to care for him on a weekly basis to help Ollie's Mum out and over the years, they became very good friends.

‘Recently, Ollie spent the day with Colin at Strawberry Steel Forge and they all had fantastic fun!’

Wendy O'Carroll, Chief Executive Officer of Ups and Downs, Southwest and Ollie’s Mum, was thrilled.

Ollie at the forge“Oliver has Down syndrome and some associated behavioural difficulties as well as additional diagnoses of ADHD and Dyspraxia. He can therefore be quite a challenge to teach and to engage in new and unfamiliar experiences. Colin's natural and genuine ability and talent to successfully engage with young people with any kind of need, enabled Oliver to both fully access and enjoy the day and take part in an activity he would otherwise have been unwilling to try. Oliver thoroughly enjoyed his blacksmithing day and was both pleased and proud of the bird-feeder he created and came away with.

We would not hesitate to recommend a day with Colin at the forge to anyone and everyone."

Thank youFinished result! Bird feeders for the garden to Ollie's carer, who is conveniently also a professional photographer and took these fantastic photos during the day. 

With understanding and the will to meet someone where they are, a great tutor can provide meaningful creative experiences, regardless of the everyday challenges a student may face. With the Paralympics starting this week, we at CraftCourses also want to celebrate the potential to ‘achieve excellence, inspire and excite the world’ (to paraphrase the International Paralympic Committee).

Please get in touch with your stories about how craft / making has helped you overcome difficulties, meet people you wouldn’t normally  encounter or build bridges in your life. 



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