Picture of GB Women's 1988 Seoul Paralympics team looking smart! From the left: Helen, Christine, Anita, Laura, Dina, Sasha and Nicky

From the left: Helen, Christine, Anita, Laura, Dina, Sasha and Nicky

Christine was one of the players in the first women’s goalball team to go to a Paralympics which was in Seoul in 1988.

Here, Dina Murdie shares her memories of Christine who passed away in January 2024.

Women’s goalball only started in GB in the 1980’s and I came to know Christine through being part of the move to get goalball recognised for women.

Sounds simple doesn’t it but Christine’s life was not simple she just made it look simple.

Christine was diagnosed with diabetes when she was just seven years old. But this did not stop her wanting to become a nurse, in fact it may have encouraged her. Her natural path in life after school was to train as a nurse. Soon after qualifying she travelled to Canada and the USA. However one day when she was there she noticed that her sight was failing so she got a flight home the next day, and the next day her sight was gone.

So onto the next phase of her life which was training to become a ‘Technical officer’ for those with a visual impairment. Involving learning braille, mobility, life skills herself as a blind person which she would then teach others, first in Christopher Grange in Liverpool. After this she moved to Alexandra College in Birmingham where she taught braille. And it was here that she first got involved in goalball.

In the early 1980s when goalball was just getting going in GB first for the men, and then women, Christine became involved. She had been a hockey player at school so this was just a sport that she could now take part in. She took easily to learning the skills needed, and the rules, and adapted well to working with others in the team. Life got a new interest for her and when we started having competitions for girls teams she was a good example to others in the way she worked as a member of a team.

International competition

In 1986 the GB women’s team went to Roermond for the World Championships. Christine was part of the team. Then in 1987 we went to Milton Keynes for the European Championships. Christine was part of the team. Here we were placed third. So then we were eligible to go to Seoul Paralympics 1988 if the GB Paralympics Committee would agree to fund us as part of the team. A few meetings followed, we were reduced to taking five players instead of six, but we were funded and we went.

There were a few complications: loading 70 team members in wheelchairs onto one flight; Christine having a diabetic coma as we were arriving in Seoul; but we got there! This was the last time the whole team went on one flight! But it was all part of the experience.

Each team had its own minibus to go to training and competition, but they did not know always know where they were going. We never did find the training gym on the first day. Food was hard to acquire and for a person who was diabetic this was a problem. We found a way round it by having a small piece of paper which took us to the front of the queue, instead of waiting for up to 90 minutes for food. By ordering packed lunches we had enough for breakfast and a snack, leaving the trips to the dining room to just one a day. Not ideal but that’s the best we could do, allowing us to eat when we needed to, and getting us to the gym at the right time!

Pictures of minibus and the team waiting on the kerb.
A banner in a minibus which reads 'Bridish Team'

So we had the experience which few people have. Being a member of a Paralympic team with a competition on the other side of the world. It was a memory which Christine relished. She often talked about it and other members of the team. She had a photo album devoted to the experience.

I shall always remember her for her common sense approach to life, her smile and her chuckle which came with the smile. Sadly she died in January 2024. Gone from our life as we know it – but never forgotten. And to remember her all those at the funeral were given a brooch of her favourite flower – A ‘Forget-me-not.’

Dina Murdie

February 2024