UHP staff member to represent England at world games

Authored by Mary
Posted: Friday, August 11, 2023 - 18:31

Therapeutic Care Support worker, Natasha Mead, is temporarily hanging up her NHS uniform for a football kit as she heads off to play for England in the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) world games.

Natasha, known as Tash to her colleagues, has worked for University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHP) at Mount Gould Hospital for the last three years, most recently for the team at the new Discharge Assessment Unit (DAU).  

Speaking about the upcoming games, Tash said: “I’m really excited and nervous, this is the highest level I’ve ever played blind football at and I’m so honoured to be able to represent my unit and do my team proud. I think it will be inspirational for someone with my story, passion, and work ethic to represent the ward.”

Despite her athletic success, Tash has future plans to work in physio for the DAU. “I really like being on this unit, it means I get to spend more time with the patients, and I want to help them further. I help run daily exercise sessions with the patients and they appreciate it, especially with my background, I even get to talk to some of them about football which they enjoy.”

The team at Mount Gould Hospital are extremely proud of Tash and have shown their support by decorating the TV room at the unit with balloons and England flags. Her colleagues also plan on showing all of Tash’s games so both staff and patients can cheer her on.

Samantha O’Driscoll, Ward Manager, said: “Tash is an inspiration not just to the staff on the Discharge Assessment Unit but to everyone. She is an absolute star; we can’t wait to cheer her and the rest of the England squad on.”

Reflecting on the backing from her team, Tash said: “I’ve been overwhelmed with how much support I’ve received from everyone. I can’t thank my manager and my team enough for making it possible for me to go and play and represent my country.”

Tash hopes to inspire other people with her story. “I want people to know that you can do anything if you put your mind to it, don’t let your disability hold you back.

“I’ve been doing sports since I was eleven years old. I started off in athletics and competed for Great Britain doing 100m and 200m sprints. Then I was a national sprinting champion for 8 years and I’ve even competed against non-disabled athletes. I got into playing blind football at the Royal National College for the Blind, I took part in their blind football sessions, and I’ve played since then.

“If you want to play sports, go to your local club and get some advice on what support can be offered to you.” 

Tash’s first game for England is on Monday 14 August where they will be playing against Morocco. The games will be live streamed on the IBSA YouTube channel.