We had a lovely day as the sun decided to shine on a beautiful autumn day in London and to complete the day the Queen attended the ceremony, having a bad back beforehand. I really thought it would be Charlie boy in attendance. It started with an overnight stay in London as we had to arrive at the Palace at 10.30am. We didn't have a very successful sleep as we didn't realise the trains run 24-7 as we were right by Victoria station.

The next morning after a hearty breakfast and our party making themselves look beautiful we drove off in the car to find the Palace taking route plan number two at the last minute, for some unknown reason. Anyway it got us to the Palace. We asked the security police at a side gate how we find the entrance as we never imagined we were going to enter by the front entrance. At the main gates of the palace as we drove in to what used to be the old road in front we were confronted by the police carrying out their security checks on all the vehicles. The police made a fuss of Shell as soon as they new she was a Scouser and everyone was looking at us to see what the fuss was about. The police suggested to her that the car was stolen as we couldn't open the bonnet or boot having only just purchased the car that week.

After their good humour we then attempted to proceed realising then that we didn't have our invitation. Well what a performance as we could not remember having ever seen one. (We found the invite about 2- months later on top of a kitchen unit at home)after bluffing about another four security checks, not funny really, as we had heard on the news that someone at another investiture was refused entry because they never had their invitation, we finally drove in under the balcony into the quadrangle and then we began to feel just a little bit like royalty.

We entered the Palace by the same entrance as heads of state like George Bush and Nelson Mandela. The area was flanked by house hold cavalry and guards of all colourful descriptions. Once in, as a recipient, I went to the Picture Gallery and my guests to the Ball Room. The picture gallery was amazing with paintings larger than our sitting room. I became a little nervous at this point and latched onto one guy to pass the time and it turned out he had served Princess Diana and now Princess lexandra, he too received an MBE. We were also in the presence of Garry Rhodes who was also attending the investiture. From there we were called forward in groups of about twelve and taken through the back of the ballroom and then down the side waiting to go forward to meet the Queen.

Eventually, once second in line I walked forward into the ballroom in view of all the guests and waited for my name to be called which was my queue to move forward and this is sadly when the nerves kicked in and as soon as I heard my name the nerves stopped again but everything seemed to be a bit of a dream I couldn't believe I was stood in front of the Queen. What was said I can't remember word for word but she said "really well done" and "so deserved" and "so truly amazing" and went on to ask how many years had we been taking the children and after a reply asked, and how often do we carry out these events and after congratulating me again the queen of England offered her me her hand which was the signal for me to leave. I nearly forgot not to turn my back on her as there is only one person in the world allowed to do this some Duke or other and I don't mean Phillip. I then had to take three steps backwards bowed and walked out of the Ballroom and my body then came back to life with a rush and it began to feel full of warmth satisfaction not just for myself but particularly Shell my dad my sister even my late Mum and for you and every one that has been a part of Katie's in any way and of course all my friends back in the Cotswolds.

I then sat in the audience to watch the rest of the proceedings. Once it had finished they played the national anthem which meant more to me than it ever did before I could relate it to winning the Olympic games one hundred meters standing on the rostrum watching the raising of the Union Jack or perhaps a Katie's kid receiving a Katie's Ski Tracks medal. The Queen then came down through the audience smiling and departed, I expect for her lunch. Then we all met up and I gave my medal to Shell. She said it was a very proud moment watching and it made her cry as I walked forward. Her first words were "if you could have heard the master of ceremonies announcing to the audience the reason for everyone awards" as I was only one of a few who got theirs for voluntary work as the majority were awarded to people for just doing the jobs they were paid for and she felt that was the real difference.

Once outside we had our official photographs taken in the quadrangle back were all the members of states arrive and depart. It was a shame about the top hat I hired as it was too big and squashed my ears but it made everyone laugh. We had a meal and a few drinks as we got outside Oxford at the old rising sun and spent the night with my mates back in the Cotswolds and stayed two nights with Dad. Now back to reality but still living the dream a little bit but I certainly won't forget the day and I hope it has helped you to understand it a little bit too.

All the Best for now
Martin Newman MBE

  • Katie's Ski Tracks was born from an idea (a dream) which occurred to Martin Newman whilst working with sick and disabled children in Lourdes South West France in 1987-8. During his free time he would always venture up into the nearby Pyrenees Mountains and partake in his passion for skiing. It was here that he began to realise how very fortunate he was to be so fit and healthy and to be able to enjoy the sheer beauty and the therapeutic values that the mountains could offer him as here any problems or worries always seemed to vanish into insignificance.

  • These thoughts then played on his mind so much. If taking exercise in the sunshine, snow, scenery and the fresh crisp mountain air could make him feel so good and positive about himself, why on earth are these children excluded from all of these mountain values, surely this would appear to be life's natural medicine and we all know the importance of taking our own annual holidays.

  • After working in France, Martin then went on to work as a special ambulance driver, escorting the sick and disabled on holidays all over Europe. His first assignment took him to Italy and the Eternal City of Rome where the group managed an audience and blessing with the late Pope John Paul II. On the return journey a meal stop was arranged at the Hotel Pension Argentum in the beautiful Pflersch Valley, Sudtirol. It was here that Martin's four year dream started to unfold, as before his eyes he could now see the perfect setting to meet the needs of such a group.

  • Within half an hour he had made an impulsive booking with the hotelier and then telephoned home to England to try and gain the support that he knew would be required. The dream was now becoming reality and a good omen having had a blessing from the Pope only the previous day. Martin was named in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June 2006 and awarded an MBE for Services to Katie's Ski Tracks.

    Martin Receiving his MBE

  • Martin's very good friend, the late Kate Noctor, became responsible for helping to establish the charity that first travelled in March 1991. Kate discovered on her return from this pioneering adventure in 1991, that she had melanoma (skin cancer). Having finished two courses of Chemotherapy and two operations later, Kate was still to be found hard at work establishing the second March holiday on which she also travelled, having only just finished her last course of Chemotherapy.

  • The following autumn the cancer had returned but Kate continued to work on for the forthcoming holiday and she was also determined to travel with the group but sadly, after undergoing major surgery that Christmas, Katie lost her own fight to cancer on 26 February 1993. Just one week later we held Katie's Service and with mixed emotions the very next morning we boarded the coach with another group of twenty sick and disabled children to set out on our 3rd holiday of a lifetime to Italy, in what is now known as Katie's Ski Tracks. "Making the impossible possible following in Katie's Ski Tracks".

  • This would have been the end of the story that Katie had started if it had not been for the persistence and dedication of Michelle Dooley, a helper on that 3rd holiday. Michelle stepped in to help run and develop the charity to its present position. Michelle has been instrumental in formulating all of the necessary risk assessments, policies and procedures that are now in place and, of course, the much needed raising of funds for all future holidays, thus keeping Katie's dreams and aspirations very much alive.

  • It is true that other organisations do take children on holidays with, by far, the majority going on Disney World type holidays etc. Martin felt that almost any child could go to Disney World and, of course, this always appeals to the general public. However, surely children wouldn't even begin to dream of being able to go skiing. So, at Katie's, we have gone for the impossible dream as we are now making the impossible very possible. Imagine sweeping down a snow-covered slope, when normally you are restricted, having spent long periods of time in hospital or by a wheelchair, callipers or crutches. Such children bare their disabilities with great courage and fortitude, far beyond that experienced by the average person.

  • In giving them a "skiing holiday of a lifetime", an experience which they will never forget, we too can share in their dream and make it reality. Self-confidence is the most valuable gift you can ever give a child and a skiing activity holiday is perhaps the best way to develop this elusive quality. At Katie's Ski Tracks, we provide a safe but challenging meaningful environment where children with no previous experience can explore their potential, discover hidden talents, learn new skills and make new friends from all over Great Britain. These are the basic building blocks to such holidays, if not life itself.

  • More importantly, we have seen from experience, that for children with a disability or life threatening illness, skiing can mean adventure, growth, development, self respect and independence, leading to a greater increase in their personal and social confidence and self esteem, once they believe in their abilities and then ultimately in themselves. They realise it may be a struggle but with a lot of self-help nothing is unachievable. All these experiences can be carried forward into later life to enable them to face the many challenges they will have to encounter throughout their lives.

  • The main objective at the end of each holiday is that the children will indeed have had that "holiday of a lifetime". Where the emphasis will have been on fun for all, enjoying all aspects of a Winter holiday, snowballing, sledging, building snowmen, fancy dress, disco's, sketches performed by both the children and helpers and many other activities and special surprises. On the final evening the children perform their own pantomime to entertain the helpers. This is followed by a torchlight procession to the local church.

  • Whilst all of these activities are more than covered medically, we don't carry them out in a hospital like regime. In fact, children have told parents that on these holidays they feel they are treated as "normal" for the first time in their lives. Parents are sure this is the secret to their child's immediate advancement to life on returning to school and family life.

  • Katie's children are between the ages of 7 - 15 and with the right equipment, instruction and safety precautions, skiing can provide a superb opportunity for the children to temporarily forget their disability and provide excellent therapeutic values, both physical and mental. These specialised holidays also give them the opportunity to fulfil a dream and bring into their short lives a measure of enjoyment, pleasure and achievement.

  • We travel overland on a specialised vehicle with our own adaptive trailer. The vehicle is equipped with all the necessary medical equipment and facilities required to transport the sick and disabled on holiday. Anyone that skis will appreciate the cost of taking their own skiing holiday these days and so I am sure you will realise when considering the very nature of these trips that they are expensive and the cost of these holidays for each child is at present approximately £2,200 but the rewards are of course one hundred fold.

    May we thank you for paying us a visit and we hope you enjoy the rest of the site.

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