WHEN Paul Patterson asked Ben Harvey to become the latest patron of the Jersey Sports Association for the Disabled [JSAD], he could not accept the position soon enough.
The managing director of Strive has long been a supporter of disabled sport in Jersey, dating back to his days as the Jersey Reds’ director of rugby.
He encouraged his players to try wheelchair basketball, which many of the squad formed a love for, and so began a long relationship between Harvey and JSAD.
Harvey said: ‘To be asked to become a patron of JSAD is a massive honour and I didn’t think twice about saying yes.
‘I feel very privileged to be in a position to help and assist as many JSAD athletes up at Strive as possible and it truly is the best feeling watching them so committed to improving themselves.
‘I think what is proven is that sport is more about the mind than the body and these athletes prove that.
‘Coming to sessions with certain disabilities that others might look at as a limitation, these athletes have the mentality and the mindset to improve and not let circumstances burden them.
‘People are quick to think about what we do for the disabled as an Island, but I don’t think many realise how much they do for us. They are truly an inspiration to able-bodied people, showing them that if they can achieve their dreams, then what is stopping anyone?’
Harvey even recalls a special interaction between JSAD athlete Adam Dalton, who was born with a congenital limb deficiency – meaning his arms and one of his legs never fully formed, and England rugby internationals Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje.
He said: ‘It was a beautiful moment. Adam was in the gym at the same time as Courtney and Maro and I could see how amazed they were at Adam’s effort in the gym.
‘Me and Courtney caught each others gaze and almost telepathically said, “what’s our excuse?”.
‘I can guarantee the both of them worked a little harder during their session that day.’
Patterson, the chairman of JSAD, said that it was imperative that patrons took an active approach in the role.
He said: ‘Ben has been a brilliant supporter of the organisation for many years years now.
‘Most people will not realise the extent of his work.
‘Even back when he was involved with the Jersey Reds he was a big supporter of us and true believer in what we are trying to achieve.
‘He is very well placed to take an active role after setting up Strive and is already providing for our disabled community, who have access to the facilitates and the strength and conditioning classes on offer.’
Harvey joins Roger Bara and Robert Le Brocq in the role that aims to provide disabled athletes with the same opportunities to succeed that able-bodied athletes have.
Jersey boasts four world champions, every one of which being in the field of disabled sport, which only serves to highlight the talent our small Island has to offer.