20th February 2019
Our own Special Olympian, Daniel Weston
Previously, The Barnstaple Hotel and the Brend Hotels family supported our chef Daniel Weston in his bid to compete in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
Through his own hard work ethic and with the support of family, friends and strangers alike, Daniel went on to win a bronze medal in cycling for Great Britain.
It was a very big achievement and everyone here was proud of Daniel.
But now we're going to do it all again, as Daniel is getting ready to go the 2019 Special Olympics World Games which run 14th - 21st March in Abu Dhabi...
The 2019 Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi
Daniel's cycling events will take place on the Yas Marina Circuit - the same track the Abu Dhabi Formula One racing takes place - between the 15th and 19th March.
It will be an extra special occasion for Daniel, as he was born in the UAE, in Sharjah. You could say that he will be going back to his roots.
The Special Olympics World Games are held every four years. They're the world's largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
For the Abu Dhabi games, 24 sports will take place across 9 venues in the city. There will be a grand opening and closing event, and registration to see the sports will be free - the city is building support for the games well and it is predicted there will be a lot of support for those taking part.
Sadly, unlike the Olympics and the Paralympics, the Special Olympics participants are not funded by the government or through sporting grants. Meaning those taking part have to fund themselves, paying for training, equipment, travel and every element of entering.
Daniel is still with us in our kitchen, graduating from a trainee to a commis chef and as before we are supporting Daniel with his efforts to reach Abu Dhabi.
After a big push in fundraising in 2018, Daniel is putting the final touches to his plans to tackle the 2019 event and strive to bring back another medal.
We wish him every bit of luck and we know that no matter what, he's already a winner.
What makes Daniel Weston a true Olympian?
Daniel is autistic and as most will know, autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people. It also affects how people make sense of the world around them.
He was diagnosed with autism at an early age but has been using these traits to help him commit to and excel at sports for his whole life. Daniel was taught to ride a bike at the age of six and moved to no stabilisers with great ease. He also loves swimming, as the repetitiveness of it helps to calm and focus him.
But autism hasn’t stopped Daniel reaching his goals. Before the age of 22 he had already graduated from Foxes Academy (a specialist catering college and training hotel for young adults with learning disabilities) and earned himself a position with us, becoming a real asset to the kitchen.
He achieved this whilst also training for and participating in regular cycle events, resulting in his previous Bronze medal and hopefully more this March.
Daniel also carried the Olympic Torch for the London 2012 Olympic games, competes in many national and international sporting events and continues to be a shining light in the sport of cycling.
Fundraising for Abu Dhabi
Most of the Great British cycling team are based in Scotland, therefore a lot of the larger training events take place in the north of England or Glasgow. So Daniel’s elite training program invariably involves long-distance travel and specialised equipment.
In order to fund getting to and training for Abu Dhabi, Daniel did a range of sponsored events to range money, including a two-mile fundraising swim and a live music evening.
Without a doubt, we are extremely proud of Daniel and his achievements and will continue to support him.
Mr Justin Brend, Director of The Barnstaple Hotel, wanted to show the Brend Hotel Group’s support of Daniel with a donation towards his Abu Dhabi training.
"It is an honour to know Daniel. His dedication to training, travel and overall commitment to cycling tells us that no matter what happens in Abu Dhabi he will be a true champion once again."
We hope to receive updates on Daniel's progress through the games and wish him all the best.