Meet the Member: Richard Vallis

Richard is Jo’s ‘other half’. He has been a long-suffering co-opted Friend of Chitambo over many years and is a particularly helpful ‘go-between’ with the bank. Thank you ba Rich, you have many interests of your own, particularly archery and theatre for people with disabilities, yet you also find time to help us. 


I'm Richard and I've been Jo's better*/worse* half for thirty years. 

Chitambo has been an important part of Jo's life all the time I've known her and supporting her has become an important part of my life, as she supports me with my interests.

I was in business as a tree surgeon until twenty years ago when I had to stop work due to bone cancer; I got rid of the cancer at the price of my leg but I got a new leg, and a spare one, and life goes on with support from Jo, our son Paul and family and friends. 

In parallel to my tree work I had started a theatre company with actors who all had learning disabilities. All the 'experts' told us it couldn't be done so we did it and Lung Ha's also celebrates 30 this year and has an international reputation. Paul is now a volunteer with Lung Ha's when he's not being a software developer. 

After helping other people with other disabilities to change "Can't do" into "Can do" I just had to apply this attitude to myself. 

After I'd learned how to walk again I took up archery at the local club in Penicuik, then trained as an archery coach. I coach at Penicuik and Lasswade clubs and have also started three groups with people with various disabilities. The latest, which started last year, consists of military veterans of all ages with different disabilities. None of this would have been possible without the help of dedicated volunteers. 

A few weeks ago I had my five minutes of fame after thirty years of volunteering when I carried the Queen's Baton in Penicuik. It took more than five minutes to take the grin off my face. 

Image 10: Richard, in traditional Scottish dress, with Baton! (Guess which leg is Titanium?) 

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