Pippa Blake

There’s more to me than MS.

I left England at age 20 to seek my fortune in Canada in 1970. I went from taking tea on the lawn of an English country garden at 4 o’clock to working on a cattle ranch in Nanton, Alberta. I rode a horse called Scrooge to help move the cattle, skinned bull balls (prairie oysters) for lunch and rode a steer in the Nanton Rodeo. After six months on the A7 Ranch, I left to become a chambermaid at Sunshine Village Ski Resort. Life was crazy, but endlessly exciting in my new-found country – it was so full of open doors and adventures.

I met and married a handsome ski patroller and we followed the snow down to work in Alta, Utah. We lived in a hut on a beach in the Mission near Kelowna whilst running a boat rental business in the summer and teaching skiing up at Big White Ski Resort in the winter. Jasper was born in 1973. We were running Temple Lodge at Lake Louise when Ollie was born on May 12th, 1976. The Lodge burnt down on June 10th, 1976. Then our life spun out of control. We moved to Kimberley for a few years. In 1984, the boys and I moved to New Zealand. We lived in a caravan on my sister and brother in law’s farm and I worked with a sheep shearing gang. We moved up to Christchurch where I had a job as a matron at a boys’ private school. Jasper and Ollie were able to take advantage of my position and attend this excellent school.

Our original plan had been to trek in the Nepal Himalaya on our way back from New Zealand in 1986. We had our shots and were ready to go. I got a job as the Administrator at the National Ski Academy in Collingwood, Ontario and we had to forgo the plan for the time being but were not too concerned as knew that we could do it another time. When MS rudely interrupted, I began to use a wheelchair and sadly put that dream to the back of my mind. But the boys never let the dream die, claiming that some day we would still go. I wondered.

And then along came Kristina, Ollie’s girlfriend, who finished her Master’s Degree in Rural Planning, put the rest of her life on hold and launched all her energy and expertise into becoming our official Expedition Coordinator. Before we knew what was happening this turned into something bigger and better than I could have imagined. It is blossoming and spilling over into lots of areas that we could never have predicted. We are thrilled that one of our objectives is to buy the Black Diamond Trail Rider for Recreation Integration Victoria.

I am fortunate that an eclectic "dream team" of extraordinary, caring, dedicated individuals is evolving. Thanks to them, I feel as though I’m waking up to a new stage in my life where, once again, I can soak up the sights and smells of the glorious outdoors; things that have been inaccessible to me for too many years. How exciting to know that together we'll rise above barriers and reach new heights.