Sunday 15th of August was a day of firsts. Not only was it the first anniversary of getting my Whill power chair (how has it already been a year?) but it was also my first time back in London after Covid. The first concert since lockdown for not only myself but for the SSE Wembley Arena too, which is a great arena - I love the accessibility & wheelchair seating there. It was quite an awesome day.
We had been lucky enough to get two tickets (two accessible wheelchair seating spaces) to the Team GB Homecoming Ceremony and to be apart of that moment in Olympic history was so special. It wasn’t like any concert we’ve been to before; it was so moving. Such an amazing celebration of the Olympians on their time & victories in Tokyo with the added bonus of getting to see some incredible artists too, I loved them all! Oh, how I’ve missed live music! It was so good to be back! My body is unsurprisingly flaring, so a lot of rest is on the cards but it’s completely worth it for the memories made yesterday. I’m so grateful I got to experience it all with my sister too. Our first concert with just us two & what a day it was. Some of the artists were: Yungblood singing David Bowie’s Heroes which was something else; Anne-Marie with ballet dancers made me so emotional; Rag ‘n’ bone man who was just awesome and Niall Rogers with Chic was a party but there wasn’t an artist I didn’t love and enjoy.
It was kind of weird navigating London myself after relying on someone pushing me for many trips but that feeling of independence was what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve not really taken my Whill to a city before and I was suddenly very aware of crowds, people and accessibility. My anxiety around everything with travelling, covid & being back in a concert atmosphere was definitely present. This eased throughout the day except a few times on the tube but we managed. The underground was what I was most anxious for. As you may know, it isn’t the most accessible of places or wheelchair friendly and then suddenly I was in control of judging the platforms and everything that came with that. There are a few disabled access friendly tube stations including Kings Cross and Wembley. They were the two we were intending on using that day but there was a couple of hiccups that thankfully the staff were brilliant with - helping us sort everything out and get us where we needed to be. The first problem was 2 out of 3 disabled toilets in Kings Cross station were out of order, then the lifts were out of service at Wembley underground and last but not least, our final tube train unexpectedly terminated at Baker Street station. This is a completely inaccessible tube station that gave us a very anxious 20 minute wait to see if I could get the chair on the train but I’m so proud of the Whill for handling drops, gaps and obstacle clearance. But we handled it, we managed it and we were able to get where we needed to get with plenty of time thankfully. Sometimes things don’t run smoothly. Absolutely no faults with the LNER service though, with the prompt ramps, spacious wheelchair spaces and friendly staff.
It still feels strange the world opening back up and I’m certainly taking it cautiously. It was amazing getting to do something I love once again as you can’t experience or replicate these atmospheres virtually (although I have enjoined virtual concerts during lockdown). We wore our masks on the underground tube and kept our distance as best we could where possible but most importantly, we enjoyed our day! Roll on the next adventure!