Jesse’s Ross Gazette column: Celebrating local excellence

Hello again fellow Ross-Gazetteers! Sorry for the unscheduled break in service.

Before the summer my columns focused on the issue that dominated political discussion the length and breadth of Britain: the EU Referendum.

The dust is now just starting to settle.  As a new Minister I am hopelessly biased, of course.  But it seems pretty clear that, whatever one’s politics, Theresa May has had a great start as Prime Minister.

Many constituents have already told me how much they like her calmness, intelligence and no-nonsense determination to go about the job.

But I found myself wondering more generally: what does it take to succeed? Is it sheer talent, or sheer hard work? Inspiration or perspiration?

When I was Chair of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee I was struck again and again by the extraordinary dedication of our athletes, and I think the answer lies right on our doorstep, with a perfect example from this summer.

I suspect many Gazette readers will have been amongst the sleep-deprived viewers who found themselves glued to the Olympic and Paralympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

Every day brought new and amazing moments of sporting excellence, from Mo Farah to the women’s hockey team to the amazing Ellie Simmonds and the Brownlee brothers.

But we should pay special tribute to Herefordshire’s own Sascha Kindred, who won a gold medal in the 200m individual Paralympic swimming medley in a world record time.

He first competed in the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta.  Now, twenty years later, he is retiring from the sport, after thirteen Olympic medals and a hatful of other honours.

Hard work?  Talent? Inspiration and perspiration?  Yes, huge amounts of all four. But perhaps most of all the persistence, drive and grit to bring them all together. What an achievement.