Sascha, 34, and Nyree, 31 - who have an OBE and MBE respectively for their services to disability sport - have cerebral palsy (CP), a neurological condition that normally occurs before or during birth.
For a number of reasons, usually lack of blood supply and therefore oxygen, parts of the brain die or do not develop.Despite this, their sporting achievement has been impressive. Though, as ever, it's not been without heartache:
Both Sascha and Nyree have faced great obstacles. Not least among these is prejudice – whether from cruel bullies who taunted them...Which is truly appalling.
...or well-meaning surgeons who offered to help ‘fix’ them.I... What?
Hang on, how is that prejudice?
*thumbs through dictionary*
Sascha has a form of CP known as hemiplegia – as well as walking with a limp, his right arm is thinner and weaker than normal and his hand is permanently clenched and turned inwards.
Nyree, who grew up in South Wales, has diplegia, meaning both her legs are affected so she cannot walk without support. ‘If I were standing in the middle of a room without my stick, I would fall over,’ she explains. She uses a wheelchair much of the time.Wouldn't offering to 'fix' this be considered just what doctors are for..?
I have come across the bizarre phenomenon of 'deaf culture' before, but I've never seen this concept ascribed to other disabilities. It seems both were denied a real choice in the matter from a young age, though. Phillip Larkin was right:
Both were offered surgery as children, but neither has ever felt the need for medical intervention, arguing that exercise help them to manage their symptoms.
‘Mum was told I could have an operation to stretch the tendons in my leg but she said no. She wanted me to do it naturally with physio and exercise,’ says Sascha.
Nyree’s father, John Lewis, and her aunt also had CP, and they didn’t want her to have surgery. ‘I was offered an operation where they cut the tendons in the back of the ankles, knees and groin,’ she says.
‘My father didn’t want me to have it – his sister had it and he said she still had difficulty walking. A friend with a similar disability has had so many operations – little tweaks to fuse bones and make her legs more stable, things like that. To me, it’s not worth it.’Maybe so. But that's not 'prejudice'. And to label it such - whether you are responsible for the wording, or the 'Mail' reporter - is to bring the entire concept into disrepute...