Year of Wellbeing Blog: Mel's story

Everyone has their own story to share about ways they have found to care for their own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of other people.

A team of bloggers have agreed to describe their personal journey. We hope their stories help and inspire others during our Year of Wellbeing.


Mel's story...

Year of wellbeing blogger Mel BarrattI was never really interested in sport. When you can’t see, it can be very isolating and if you just don’t know how to join in a game like football or rounders then it’s so much easier not to do that at all. That was me. I would just sit at home and read a book and eat chocolate while others were out doing all that.

British Blind Sports (BBS) changed all that. I started swimming at school, when they came and showed us how actually we could take part in many sports. Initially I was rubbish and not interested but someone said to me that when I swam, I looked like I might be quite good if I did some training. I think what really did it was my best friend started going swimming and actually I am quite competitive so I started going along, too!

I joined a local club, then BBS took me on training weekends and I started competing. I was awestruck to be competing against people I’d seen on the telly! Of course, I lost. But I was inspired to train harder and eventually I beat these people. I was lucky enough to travel around the world to take part in competitions and, to cut a long story short, I went on to swim internationally for seven years.

In Atlanta I won the gold medal in the 400m freestyle. I was not expected to win it, and of course because I couldn’t see the other competitors I had no idea I had won until the race was finished. But I have gold medals to show for all my hard work, from the Paralympics at Atlanta and Sydney, plus I also ran with the torch for the 2012 London Olympics.

Year of wellbeing blogger Mel Barratt with her medalsAfter Sydney I retired from swimming but I’ve since tried other sports with the help of BBS – rowing, judo and tennis. I competed with British Cycling in the World Championships and also competed in the World Triathlon Championships, which I won.

I am now running the London marathon to raise money for the charity that has given me so much. There is just a few weeks to go now, and I am exhausted! We are doing three runs a week and just last week we did a 20 mile run. They say it takes a day to recover from each mile that you have run. I can believe that!

I will be running with my husband Richard, who has also never run a marathon. Neither of us are runners and I have found that when you are running with someone you know so well, and you are exhausted like this, the social barriers can come crashing down!

British Blind Sports do a great job, and they opened up a whole new area of life for me. I’m just hoping I can help others enjoy some of the opportunities I have had.


Mel is running the 2019 Virgin London Marathon for British Blind Sport - who made her Olympic dreams come true! To read more of her story and to help find future Olympians please click here.


Click here to find out more about Coventry and Warwickshire's Year of Wellbeing 2019.

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