Well it is now 2011 and that means that we are one week away from the start of our new skating adventure on Dancing On Ice.
We were lucky and we got to fly home for Christmas Holidays and got to spend it with our families for a few days which was nice. But, now we have arrived back over here in England and are about to get ready and started for the premier of Dancing On Ice Sixth Season which will kick off this coming Sunday night. January 9th is the official day so this week we will all be busy getting all of the finishing touches on our routines for week number one. Let’s just hope that all of the celebrities remember their routines after Christmas break 🙂
I am skating with a war hero that has won the Victory Cross. His name is Johnson Beharry VC. You can now go on to the Dancing on Ice web site and see a quick video link where he talks about being in the show and what it means to him and where he shares a little of his history.
You can also find other video links and fun facts about the show.
Johnson comes from Greneda. It is an island in the Caribbean so for him ice is something that you find in drinks. He had never seen ice before in his life until he started Dancing On Ice. He had seen it on tv but had never been in an ice rink until 12 weeks ago. When he first started he did not want to leave the barrier and he was pretty shaky that is for sure but gradually he has become more confident and is now slowly getting the grasp of our sport. Which I think is truly amazing to think that someone who has been injured in war as badly as Johnson would even consider the challenge of ice skating. But he has!
When Johnson was in the Iraq war a little more than 5 years ago he was hit in the head with an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). He suffered a severe blow to the head causing him to go into a coma and have to fight for his life. He was lucky to be alive but was left with severe injuries he had to recover from. His back had 5 vertebrae broken, and his right shoulder and head were hit with shrapnel. This left him unable to walk, and he had to undergo serious surgery to his brain and head where now he is only left with 3/4 of a brain and no sense of smell. The entire front right side of his head was basically rebuilt. So, to think that he in the past 5 years has relearned to walk, eat, drive a car and function let alone think or even try to skate my hat goes off to him everyday for getting out on that ice in the cold Stratham arena in London.
When I started to work with him I could see that it was going to take a lot of patience and slow guidance to get him to gain confidence on the ice. It is one thing just to learn how to go forwards and backwards but eventually we were going to have to teach him how to actually skate with turns, and little jumps and lifts, etc so I have had to make sure every day I was instilling in him good concrete basic skating skills to gain balance first in all he did. He was so shaky at first. So day in and day out we worked on the small things. To some it may not look like we advanced very fast but I think in the long run it has been special for Johnson because when I am long gone after the show is over he will know how to skate and he will be able to teach others. How rewarding would that be?
Everyday we work he always says “I am not happy”. He wants what he does to be perfect. But, I think he has a lot to be happy for. He may not see it or feel it yet but he is healing. Yes, it is obvious that he is getting stronger and more fit as each day passes but I think he is also healing from the inside out as well. He dreams about skating instead of war and since we started we have always faced challenges when it has come to the moments with his left side of his body. But, gradually you see a connection reforming between his brain and his left side and in some skills going to the left has become stronger than his right. I really hope we get a chance to stay in the competition for many weeks just to see how his journey turns out.
I think that the biggest memory so far was the day before we left for Christmas and we were working on our routine for show one. We took a break for a bit and started to work on some new skills. Karen Barber one of the head coaches for the show had me demonstrate some skills that he had not tried before and she asked him to keep these in mind for maybe week two and to start to try them when he had a chance. Johnson said right away “I can do that”. And sure enough 2 minutes later he was well on his way to doing the steps and quite well. Then we asked him to do a little waltz jump just something to show him as a challenge for the future. I honestly thought after seeing Johnson the first day there was never going to be a chance that he could ever accomplish that. Not seeing how shaky he was at first. But, sure enough he said after I demonstrated the waltz jump, “I can do that”. And sure enough a few seconds later he was doing waltz jumps. I just brought tears to my eyes. I thought wow, there really is no such word as can’t, and that you can overcome obstacles and eventually sometimes with many hours and patience achieve what might at first seem impossible. It is just incredible. I still can’t believe he did it. So, although it is not in our week one routine he is just chipping away and making progress and just loving what he is doing. I think although he said he is never happy that this day he walked away with a smile.
It has been such an honor to work with Johnson so far. I think that he will be a true inspiration to those people around the world that are facing some kind of adversity in life or those that have been injured, because every day he is teaching me that there is no such word as I can’t do something. That one needs to just get up off the sofa and not feel sorry for ones self and just to give life a go and give it 100% at whatever you are trying. That there is hope and if you believe in something hard enough you can overcome adversity. Face the impossible. I just think he is an amazing person with quite the story to tell and will truly inspire others to face their own personal challenges whatever they might be.
So, stay tuned this week as our final preparations take place before the show begins. I will try to keep you up to date on all of our exciting moments and share with you some more picture of our adventures leading up to the show on a daily basis if I can.
What a learning experience for me so far. Johnson has changed my outlook on life and hopefully through my blog you will get to see that too when I tell the stories of our experiences together.
For those of you that are in England also stay tuned with voting information as we will need your support and voting fingers to stay in this competition. I really want to be able to show the world his full story and the journey that Johnson is on. It is Truly remarkable! I want others to say after watching his progress that if he can do it, I can do it too!
Have a great night everyone and again Happy New Year. All the best wishes to each of you for a happy and healthy 2011.
Cheers, Jodeyne 🙂
(photos courtesy of ITV Studios)