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50TH ANNIVERSARY & AWARDS FUNCTION

ParaFed Canterbury was established in 1967 and this year we are excited to be celebrating our 50th Anniversary. Our 50th Anniversary & Awards Function will be held at Riccarton Park on Saturday 25th November 2017.

Register now for tickets to our 50th Anniversary & Awards Function by emailing info@parafedcanterbury.co.nz



Do you have any questions about our 50th Anniversary Function?

Ken Sowden
Operations Manager
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As part of our celebrations we will be looking back at some of our key “Memories Through The Years”.

Each month we will share stories from our organisations history, including our different office locations, international competitions that have been held in our region, members who have played a significant role in ParaFed Canterbury and many more fantastic memories.

GRAHAM THROUGH THE YEARS
No history of ParaFed Canterbury would be complete without highlighting the life of Graham Condon who was for many years the face of ParaFed Canterbury.

Born in 1949, Graham contracted polio as a child, but he never let this affect his passion and drive.

Graham was a six-time New Zealand Paralympian, multiple Paralympic medallist and world record holder. He was a founding member of ParaFed Canterbury and worked for over a decade for both ParaFed Canterbury and ParaFed New Zealand (known today as Paralympics New Zealand).

He made a difference in the lives of many people with and without a disability. He influenced New Zealanders, and in particular Cantabrian’s with his enthusiasm, no nonsense approach and commitment to improving the lives of everyone he came in contact with.

Graham was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 1982 and a New Zealand Commemoration Medal in 1990. He was elected as a Christchurch City Councillor in 1995 and served four terms as a Councillor until his death in 2007.

ParaFed Canterbury created the Graham Condon Scholarship in 2007 in memory of his outstanding services to the organisation. The Graham Condon Scholarship is awarded annually to an athlete who has not yet reached the highest level in their sport, but through outstanding commitment, attitude and ability, demonstrates the potential to achieve this in the future.

The first Graham Condon recipient was Sophie Pascoe and over the last 10 years, six of the ten recipients are now New Zealand Paralympians.



LOCATIONS THROUGH THE YEARS
From a group of volunteers holding monthly meetings in their living rooms, ParaFed Canterbury has grown into an organisation with four staff and offering a range of programmes around the region.

In the early years, the committee shared their meetings between members’ living rooms and venues such as the Disabled Persons Centre on Worcester Street. In 1989, ParaFed Canterbury moved to the Marshland Community Hall, which coincided with the appointment of their first paid staff member. The Community Hall included offices and a small weights gym where members could train.

In the mid-1990’s, ParaFed Canterbury made the move to Burwood Hospital where their offices were located for almost 20 years. Burwood Hospital became the home of ParaFed Canterbury and was the location for many of its activities, including the arts programme, junior sports club, hydrotherapy pool, and training for their sports teams.

Their time at Burwood Hospital is probably best remembered for the ParaFed Gym which had over 200 members, including able-bodied members. In a time when many public gyms had limited access for people with disabilities, the ParaFed Gym was ahead of its time by providing a fully accessible gym that could be used by everyone.

Following damage suffered to the ParaFed Canterbury office building during the Christchurch Earthquakes and the subsequent redevelopments to Burwood Hospital, ParaFed Canterbury was forced to vacate their offices and close the ParaFed Gym in 2012.

For the past five years ParaFed Canterbury has been located at Melrose Kiwi Concept Chairs in Papanui. While their office space is smaller, their programmes continue to grow and they are now offering even more sports in locations across the region.




NATIONALS THROUGH THE YEARS
The National Games were the major focus for ParaFed Associations from the late 1960’s through until the final event in 2011. The first event was held in Auckland in 1968 and was attended by 29 competitors. Numbers grew each year and during the mid 1990’s, when the event was in its prime, was attended by over 200 competitors each year.

The National Games, which included a range of sports, was a breeding ground for new Para athletes and provided a unique opportunity for those involved at a social or development level to compete against New Zealand’s very best Paralympians.

ParaFed Canterbury had a proud history at the National Games, and whether it was travelling away as a team or hosting the event, it was always a highlight on the sporting calendar. Christchurch hosted the National Games on numerous occasions, including one of the biggest games ever in 1997.

While athletes competed for medals and chased qualifying times for representative honours, it was the prestigious Inter-Regional Trophy that really brought out the regional pride. It wasn’t until 1983 that the Canterbury team first laid its hand on the trophy and the team went on to win the trophy on six occasions – 1983, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2007.

With the introduction of Para sport categories within able-bodied National Championships, the numbers attending the National Games slowly declined, and the final event was held in Hamilton in 2011.




THE EARLY YEARS
The origins of ParaFed Canterbury date back to the mid 1960’s when Fr. Leo Close, an Irish priest and Irish Paralympian, visited Christchurch to talk to a group of local disabled people about the opportunities of rehabilitation through sport.

Inspired by the words of Fr. Leo Close, and following a few local sports days in the region, ParaFed Canterbury (known then as the Canterbury Paraplegic & Physically Disabled Association) was formed in 1967.

The name ParaFed Canterbury was slowly introduced in the early 1990’s, to align with ParaFed New Zealand (known today as Paralympics New Zealand), and was officially changed to ParaFed Canterbury in 1997.

For the first 25 years, the association was run by a dedicated group of local athletes and volunteers, who were involved in committee meetings, fundraising and organising regional and national games.

Now 50 years on, it is through the efforts of the founding members and volunteers in the early years, that ParaFed Canterbury has become one of the leading regional Para sports organisations in New Zealand.