Disabled sportsman Mick Kirby says that when he had a stroke six years ago as many doors opened for him as closed.
The 54-year-old, who lives on the Manor Park Estate, Uckfield, is making a name for himself in clay pigeon shooting and will be in Italy next month helping with assessments designed to enable the sport to be included in the Olympic Games in 2020.
Mick, of Nevill Road, got bitten by the bug as soon as he took up clay pigeon shooting but he has also tried microliting, gliding, quad-biking, scuba diving, kayaking, archery, pistol and rifle shooting.
Before the stroke, which initially left him paralysed down the left hand side of his body, his life revolved around his work as a heating engineer and groundsman – jobs he still holds.
Hard work has helped him regain 50% of the use of his left leg. The feeling has returned to the top of his arm and shoulder but he has no practical use of his lower arm and his vision is impaired.
But just as he picked himself up time and again from falling over as he learned to walk again after the stroke he has found a way of enjoying every sport he tries.
To shoot he patches his left eye and he has a special loading device which means he can manage to re-load with the use of one arm. Recently he added to his trophies when competing against able-bodied people.
He is grateful to the national charity Sportability for providing access to the different sports and to Disabled Clay Target Shooting GB for enabling him to progress in his chosen field.
He is also full of praise for the Northall Clay Pigeon Club at Fletching where the friendly and helpful atmosphere encouraged him in his endeavours.
Mick is delighted that the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association has accepted there is demand for disabled clay pigeon shooting and that interest has been growing in the sport since the 2012 Olympics in London.
At the moment it is an exhibition sport and while it won’t be included at Rio in 2016 it could be on the Olympic programme in 2020.
“I am making contacts all over Britain and hopefully, after Italy, all over the world,” said Mick.
“Sport brings people together and until you experience it yourself you can’t imagine it. I get a huge amount of satisfaction from clay pigeon shooting. It helps me physically and mentally and improves my sense of well-being.”
Mick’s ambition is to train as an instructor so that he can instruct other disabled people in the sport. “One of the most frustrating things for me was able-bodied people telling me what to do. I think it would work better to learn from somebody who understands the difficulties and challenges faced by those with disabilities.”
Mick said thank you to Henderson Wealth Management and John Millam Plant Hire for their support as sponsors.
He added that if any group or individual would like to hear more about his stroke and the years after he would be available to talk about it.