My love of gymnastics started when I was seven years old in a school hall in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Without doubt, the reason for my lifelong love affair with this sport is down to the passionate teaching, support and encouragement of my first ever gymnastics coach, Mr Jones 'the gym', as he was affectionately known. That was over 30 years ago and I am more passionate about gymnastics today than I've ever been.
In 2001, I made a move from the UK to Australia, and following various coaching roles, I knew that I had much more to offer the world of gymnastics. I would often find myself writing business plans and coming up with ideas to run my own gym, among other things. I eventually plucked up the courage to leave my 'day' job, and in 2009 became the proud owner of a Gymnastics Club in regional NSW, Australia, Flyaway Gymnastics. It hasn't always been easy but the highs of owning my very own gym club have far outweighed the lows, and I am so very proud of all that my team and I have achieved.
Over the years my focus has shifted from coaching competitive gymnastics (which I still love to do) to offering amazing gymnastics experiences to children of all ages, helping them not only learn how to do handstands and cartwheels but to also develop a set of skills that will set them up for life. I am continuously blown away by the many benefits that this wonderful sport offers children including balance, co-ordination, social skills, discipline, strength, spatial awareness and so much more.
Twelve months ago, on a trip back to the UK for Christmas, I sat thinking about ways to inspire children involved in the sport and further spread the word about gymnastics; and the concept for the Sarah Katie book series was borne.
I have known Tiana since 2001. She was one of the first children I taught after arriving in Australia and to this day, and many gymnasts later, she remains one of the most talented young children I have ever had the pleasure to teach. But her talents extend far beyond her gymnastics ability and Tiana is currently studying graphic design at University in Wagga Wagga, Australia. I approached Tiana after mocking up a clay doll version of Sarah Katie, hopeful that she would agree to help me bring to life the little gymnast, who I believe has the potential to capture the hearts of many young gymnasts, the world over. She did, and I'm sure anyone reading the books will agree that she has done an amazing job capturing the spirit of many little girls as them embark on their own gymnastics journey..
It's been a fun process and we have both learnt a lot along the way. Book 1: Sarah Katie wants to be a gymnast was released in August, 2017 and so far has been really well received in both Australia and the UK and Book 2: Sarah Katie's first gymnastics lesson is due for release in early 2018. There are four more titles in the Sarah Katie series.
'Patrick's amazing gymnastic adventures' will be the second series, aimed more specifically at little boys. I'm hoping the first book in this series will be ready for release mid 2018,
Happy reading little people and don't ever stop dreaming.