One of the disabled armed service veterans who trekked to the South Pole two years ago with Prince Harry has become the new public face of the user-led charity that campaigns for the rights of disabled motorists.Duncan Slater, who has been appointed as the external affairs manager of Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK), has himself been a holder of a blue parking badge since he was seriously injured in Afghanistan six years ago.He was on patrol when the vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device, with the explosion throwing him 40 feet and leaving him so badly injured that his right arm was the only part of his body left unbroken.He later had a double lower leg amputation, and had prosthetic limbs fitted, and was medically discharged from the RAF.Slater said that joining DMUK six years on was not a difficult decision because of its focus on the importance of independent mobility for disabled people.After his hospital treatment six years ago, almost the only thing he was allowed to do was drive.He said: “I had to get a car adapted and I was entitled to a blue badge. I realised quite quickly how much independence you had just by driving.”He also rides motorcycles, with the help of an adaptation that allows him to change gears with his hands rather than his feet.“I was keen to get back to riding because I had done a lot of it before,” he said. Continuing his hobby showed him that being an amputee did not mean having to “stop doing the things I enjoy”.Slater, who has an adapted Motability vehicle, has major concerns about the number of disabled people losing their eligibility for the scheme as a result of the government’s move from working-age disability living allowance (DLA) to its new personal independence payment (PIP).Motability confirmed last year that more than 100 disabled people every week were losing their Motability vehicles after being assessed for PIP, while some estimates have suggested that as many as 180,000 DLA claimants could eventually be forced to give up their Motability vehicles.He said: “If you change the goalposts overnight, people are going to be excluded.“It does seem flawed because you can’t have people who are considered disabled and qualify for Motability and then suddenly it’s taken off them.“The worry is, what happens to those people now? Are they now struggling?“I don’t think it will save money in the long run because they will end up having to reply on other services and it just shifts the problem, it doesn’t really solve it.“You can guarantee that there will be people who really rely on those Motability vehicles and then suddenly they have to hand them back.“What do they do now? How do they get to the shops? How do they provide for themselves?”Key among DMUK’s campaigns is the ongoing battle to stop the abuse of accessible parking spaces, which he said can be done by “changing people’s mindsets”, and highlighting why the bays are needed.Slater said: “People don’t need disabled parking bays because they can’t be bothered walking to the shops.“We get phone calls from people who, if they can’t get in a blue badge space in their local supermarket… they will go home, and they will wait another few days, and all because someone is in a blue badge space without a blue badge and they want to go to a cashpoint.”Since 2009, he has had to confront the assumption among many members of the public who see him sitting in his car that he is not entitled to use a blue badge space.He said: “There is a strange perception that if you see somebody young or younger in a car and they pop into a blue badge space, instantly people are watching, because [they think] ‘there’s this young lad, there’s no way he can be disabled.’“I’ve been told off for taking up blue badge bays. People have got me to wind the window down and told me, ‘You should be ashamed.’ “It’s incredibly frustrating. It’s another reason for being here [at DMUK]. If we can change enough perceptions in people then hopefully that won’t happen to someone else.”There is also the ongoing fight to overcome the reluctance of councils and other providers to offer car park ticket concessions to blue badge holders.He said: “It’s trying to get the point across that because you are disabled, it does take you longer to go round the shops, and you are not going to go to the shops as often as most people.”Part of his job will be to run the charity’s Disabled Parking Award, which offers accreditation for car parks that are accessible for disabled people.Slater became the first double amputee to trek the last 200 miles across Antarctica to the South Pole in December 2013 as part of a team which was raising money for the charity Walking with the Wounded.Slater and his fellow team members spent nine hours every day on skis, dragging their belongings behind them, from nine in the morning until six in the evening, in temperatures as low as minus 48 degrees.But he said the process of trekking through the snow was actually therapeutic and “quite cathartic”, and helped him deal with the serious post-traumatic stress he has experienced since 2009.“It’s silent,” he said. “No sound, apart from the howling wind. For me, it helped put everything in order. It was lovely.“Nine hours a day – although you would stop every two hours to eat and hydrate – you were locked into your goggles with your hood up.“You pick things to think about, your mind just drifts constantly, and two hours will fly by, and when you sit down you feel quite at ease with everything. Mentally, it is really relaxing.“You literally think about everything to the nth degree and it helped put stuff in perspective – how lucky I was to be there, to survive the blast, to walk again.”He believes he will be able to take the patience he learned on the trek with him into his new role at Disabled Motoring UK.And he does not rule out asking Prince Harry to support the charity in the future.But he added: “It’s not always great to have people of that magnitude, because people overlook the charity, [because they think], ‘you don’t need our help, you’ve got Prince Harry.’“I would be wary [about approaching him] but if we were doing an event or something where it would really benefit us, then yes, definitely.”
JON Wilkin says attention to detail will ultimately decide the destination of the World Club Challenge.Saints’ captain has been at the forefront of his side’s perfect start to the Super League season.But that will count for nothing when they take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Langtree Park this Sunday.“We have two wins under our belts and have played ok apart from in our first pre-season game,” Wilkin said. “We are happy with some elements of our game and we certainly need did well Salford.“What I am confident in though is we need to be much better than we have been so far to come close to South Sydney.“If we give South Sydney as much possession as we have given other sides in the opening two rounds then they will punish us a lot more ruthlessly than we have been. We are aware of that and have some easy improvements to make.“Our defence has been exceptional from the back end of last year to the start of this. Most attention has gone into that in the off season. Sean Long and Jamahl Lolesi are smart coaches and they have helped us improve dramatically in that area.“That doesn’t guarantee a good night on Sunday – we have to work hard and take that into the game.“We’ve started well and haven’t conceded a lot of points. The cornerstone of any side that wants to win trophies is defence. If you are loose defensively you are liable to be beaten in the big games. I don’t think us or Souths could be called loose in defence.”He continued: “The experience of winning in 2007 (against Brisbane) is something we can use. Having something to draw on, good or bad, is a good learning experience. To beat Brisbane was one of the proudest moments of my life.“Now as captain, leading Saints out into a sell-out Langtree Park, against South Sydney – that will be a special night in my career and something I will be reflecting on after the game. But first we’re all focused on producing a spot on performance on Sunday.“The atmosphere will be special and vibrant. We can’t wait.”
THERE was a large measure of déjà vu on show at Langtree as the Saints produced a first half performance practically identical to that dished up at the Halliwell Jones last Saturday, writes Graham Henthorne.Eighteen points up in the first quarter and cruising then the wheels fell off and the match develops into just the sort of scrappy encounter that no-one likes.But they held their nerve to win 38-22 and record their seventh win in a row.The Saints opened their account taking advantage of a Vikings knock down in their own 10 when Liam Cooper gave an indication of the sort of strong running he would be dealing out all night by beating two defenders on his way over.Olly Davies celebrated his call-up to the first team squad by beating the cover to the left corner. And when Jake Spedding dummied his way through down the right, passed inside only to see the ball knocked back by the covering defender but straight into the grateful hands of Ricky Bailey the Saints were flying.But as at Warrington six days earlier the initiative was handed to the opposition and they took it with open arms. Two tries later and the Vikings tails were up and it was the Saints who were praying for the interval.However, on the stroke of half time the ball was spread to the left hand side and Calvin Wellington found himself in space. The long striding centre easily outpaced the cover to the corner and Lewis Fairhurst’s fourth conversion from as many attempts gave the Saints a bit of breathing space.In the first half the Saints had gone 13 from 13 completions but they opened the second with two from five again giving every encouragement to the visitors.Again two tries later, thankfully the second unconverted, and the Saints were really hanging on to the slenderest of leads.But this side’s nothing if not resilient and for fifteen minutes they scrambled and defended with vigour, repelled everything the Viking threw at them then killed them off in dramatic fashion.A Matty Lees charged down kick led to a handover on half way. Three tackles later and Aaron Smith showed why he is valued so highly as he spotted half a gap from dummy half and shot through it. Josh Eaves took it on and quick hands from the play the ball saw David Eccleston over in the corner.The fans in the ground were then treated to a sign of things to come as a last tackle bomb was superbly fielded by Regan Grace on his own 10. He scooted inside before spotting the gap in the defensive line, shooting between two converging defenders and outpacing the cover over the final 50 metres to the posts finally getting the chance to show off his talents.Jake Spedding gratefully accepted a spilled bomb to fall over the line for the Saints last try giving the score a somewhat inflated look.There was a welcome return from injury for Phil Atherton off the bench but the Saints generally looked a little jaded with the pack unable to exert its usual dominance down the middle.Match Summary:Saints U19s:Tries: Ricky Bailey, David Eccleston, Calvin Wellington, Jake Spedding, Regan Grace, Olly Davies, Liam Cooper.Goals: Lewis Fairhurst 5.Widnes U19s:Tries: Ryan Ince, Connor Davies, Will Weir, Jack Houghton.Goals: Ed Chamberlain 3.Half Time: 24-12Full Time: 38-22Teams:Saints:1. Ricky Bailey; 2. David Eccleston, 3. Jake Spedding, 4. Calvin Wellington, 5. Regan Grace; 6. Danny Richardson, 7. Lewis Fairhurst; 8. Ross McCauley, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Joe Ryan, 11. Olly Davies, 12. Liam Cooper, 13. Morgan Knowles. Subs: 14. Josh Eaves, 15. Phil Atherton, 16. Lewis Hatton, 17. Matty Lees.Widnes:1. Ed Chamberlain; 5. Nathan Holbrook, 3. Joe Lyons, 4. Dan McGoldrick, 2. Ryan Ince; 6. Connor Davies, 7. Theo Holt; 8. Ted Chapelhow, 9. Jack Reynolds, 10. Will Weir, 11. Jack Houghton, 12. Matt Whitley, 13. Brad Walker. Subs: 14. Jack Bond, 15. Connor Cutts, 16. Sian Jones, 17. Louis Glover.
SAINTS head into Saturday night’s game in Catalan with seven wins from their last ten meetings with the Dragons.Before last year’s defeat at the Stade Gilbert Brutus they also won five straight in France too.Last 10 Meetings:St Helens 18, Catalans Dragons 7 (SLR1, 6/2/15)St Helens 30, Catalans Dragons 12 (SLQSF, 2/10/14)Catalans Dragons 42, St Helens 0 (SLR16, 14/6/14)St Helens 40, Catalans Dragons 22 (SLR5, 14/3/14)Catalans Dragons 6, St Helens 26 (SLR23, 3/8/13)St Helens 12, Catalans Dragons 22 (SLR12, 12/4/13)Catalans Dragons 15, St Helens 20 (SLR21, 20/7/12)St Helens 32, Catalans Dragons 34 (SLR4, 24/2/12)St Helens 40, Catalans Dragons 18 (SLR22, 15/7/11)Catalans Dragons 16, St Helens 22 (SLR4, 5/3/11)Super League Summary:Catalans Dragons won 8St Helens won 13 (includes win in 2014 play-offs)Highs and Lows:Catalans Dragons highest score: 42-0 (H, 2014) (also widest margin)St Helens highest score: 53-10 (H, 2007) (also widest margin)Career Milestones:Jon Wilkin needs three tries to reach a career century of touchdowns. His total of 97 has been scored as follows: 8 for Hull KR (2000-2002), 88 for St Helens (2003-2015) and 1 for England (2004-2005, 2008-2009 & 2011-2012). Wilkin also made 6 non-scoring appearances for Great Britain (2006-2007).Try-Scoring Runs:Tommy Makinson (1-1-2) has scored tries in Saints last three matches.Consecutive Appearances:Catalans Dragons’ Zeb Taia has the longest run of consecutive appearances amongst Super League players, with 47. Taia last missed a Dragons game on August 30 2013 – a 20-12 defeat against Leeds at Headingley. His streak then started on September 7 2013 – a 14-12 defeat against Warrington at Stade Gilbert Brutus.1 Zeb Taia (Catalans Dragons) 472 Mose Masoe (St Helens) 433 Danny Washbrook (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) 354 Elliott Whitehead (Catalans Dragons) 315 = Ian Henderson (Catalans Dragons), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants) 28First Utility Super League Leading Scorers:Tries:1 Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors) 132 = Tom Lineham (Hull FC), Jordan Turner (St Helens), Dominic Manfredi (Wigan Warriors) 115 Tommy Makinson (St Helens) 106 = Justin Carney (Castleford Tigers), Ken Sio (Hull Kingston Rovers) 98 = Aaron Murphy (Huddersfield Giants), Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos), Kevin Brown (Widnes Vikings) 8Goals:1 = Josh Mantellato (Hull Kingston Rovers), Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos) 393 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) 384 Matty Smith (Wigan Warriors) 375 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 366 Scott Dureau (Catalans Dragons) 347 Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves) 308 Travis Burns (St Helens) 289 Josh Griffin (Salford Red Devils) 2710 Craig Hall (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) 25Goals Percentage:1 Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos) 86.66 (39/45)2 Danny Tickle (Widnes Vikings) 84.61 (11/13)3 Scott Dureau (Catalans Dragons) 77.27 (34/44)4 Josh Mantellato (Hull Kingston Rovers) 75.00 (39/52)5 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 73.46 (36/49)6 Josh Griffin (Salford Red Devils) 72.97 (27/37)7 Tommy Makinson (St Helens) 72.72 (8/11)8 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 72.41 (21/29)9 Travis Burns (St Helens) 71.79 (28/39)10 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) 71.69 (38/53)Points:1 Josh Mantellato (Hull Kingston Rovers) 942 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 893 Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos) 884 Matty Smith (Wigan Warriors) 875 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) 856 Josh Griffin (Salford Red Devils) 747 Scott Dureau (Catalans Dragons) 738 Stefan Ratchford (Warrington Wolves) 729 Craig Hall (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) 6210 = Travis Burns (St Helens), Jack Owens (Widnes Vikings) 60