During my first year at university, I was provided with a 'golden nugget' (piece of information) from one of my lectures which shaped me into the person that I am today. He told me that if I wanted to get anywhere in sport, people needed to know my name. The same day I contacted my local county council to see if I could start volunteering. Within the month, I was being put through various coaching qualifications and helping to support the delivery of a variety of sports across schools. My eyes were opened to what the world of sport had to offer.

I was a quiet and shy individual, and have always battled with low confidence and self-belief, but I found an environment that I could grow, and I found a new side (or the real side) of me that I have never seen before.

Through volunteering, I found basketball and started to volunteer every week at my local club. The club started to grow and they wanted me to help coach in another county and help build the basketball community. It was at this point that I discovered wheelchair basketball. As soon as I saw the sport I was hooked.

Within 12 months of being involved in wheelchair basketball I was fortunate to become the Team Manager of the Welsh U19 squad and two years later, Head Coach of both the U15 and U19 squads. Having the opportunity to coach within this environment, made me grow in confidence and find new ways to challenge myself.

In 2014, I was given a huge opportunity within a National Governing Body, working with international wheelchair basketball. I believe that I would not have been successful with this position had I not been volunteering to build up my confidence. This job allowed me to travel the world (well my passport is well travelled, I've seen sports halls and airports, but I wouldn't change it at all!) and meet people from all over the world.

A few years later, I had to leave my job and relocate due to personal circumstances. The prospect of leaving an environment that I had grown in and finding another role back home was daunting. However, I started to use my transferable skills and secured a role at Mental Health Matters. Despite being away from sport, this environment helped me to develop my leadership skills and enhance my understanding of mental health. It doesn't matter what skills you have, if you are adaptable the possibilities for you are endless. 

I am very fortunate that I now have a job that I love and that makes a difference, and I also continue to volunteer with an international wheelchair basketball squad. I will shortly be travelling to Tokyo for the Paralympic games as Team Manager of the Netherlands Women's Wheelchair Basketball team*! They secured a bronze medal at London (2012) and Rio (2016) and I can't wait to be a part of their journey in Tokyo.

I truly believe that without volunteering, I wouldn't have had the opportunities that I have had. I would always recommend that people consider volunteering if they can. Not only does it add to your CV, but it gives you opportunities to develop yourself and discover skills/strengths/abilities you would have never thought existed before.

My biggest advice is to never give up. There will be tough times, but these experiences help to shape you and you never know what you are capable of unless you try. 

*Listen to the team's song here: Enorm-Up Official video - YouTube