Catrin was one of the first volunteers with Therapies Unite in 2011 when she organised an independent 3 week physiotherapy project, with her friend Emily, in Puerto Vallarta. Both were studying physiotherapy at Keele University at the time and had decided that they wanted to widen her experiences as well as help people who really needed physiotherapy input.
Catrin worked in two different projects whilst in Puerto Vallarta, Proyecto Pitillal and CAM21 Special Needs School. Both centres provide care and rehabilitation for children and adults with disabilities. Catrin loved the projects and working with the children and she was an excellent volunteer, very enthusiastic and determined. It is not easy to adapt to working in a different country, especially with language barriers a lack of equipment and resources. But I was very impressed with Catrin, despite not being a qualified physiotherapist at the time she was very dynamic, confident and had lots of great ideas. When she returned to England she talked to me about returning to Puerto Vallarta and helping me set up a hydrotherapy project and was also very keen to develop links between Keele University and Therapies Unite, allowing students to come and volunteer as part of an elective placement.
Tragically Catrin passed away in 2012. I knew Catrin personally before she came to volunteer for me through the world of salsa, another keen interest of hers and she was a beautiful young woman inside and out. Like so many others I wanted to do something in her memory. I decided to name our swimming group in Mexico Catrin’s Penguins and in conjunction with her family started to think about other things we could do. Her family and many friends have been working extremely hard over the past few years, fundraising through various events to raise funds for various projects with Therapies Unite. In total they have raised an astonishing £6000 which has been put into a fund for Catrin.
Catrins mum and sister, Ceri and Rose visited Puerto Vallarta for 2 weeks in 2013 to learn more about the projects that she was involved with as well as look at the work that is happening with Therapies Unite. It was a wonderful experience and has enabled us to start thinking more about how we will use Catrin’s Fund. The most important thing is that the money goes directly into the projects and is used to change lives and change them for good. Therapies Unite are very focused on making long lasting differences and most of what we do is through education, training and the provision of necessary equipment.
Keele University has supported the development of physiotherapy scholarship placements with Therapies Unite in Puerto Vallarta. This has been running for 4 years now and we have had 15 students come to Mexico for a 4 week placement. This has all been made possible through the support of Catrin’s family, Santander and Keele University School of Physiotherapy. It is an incredible thing to have organised and it was the dream of Catrin to set something like this up after she returned from her volunteer placement with Therapies Unite. I am so pleased that this dream has become a reality and it continues benefit so many people, not only in Puerto Vallarta but also for the students and staff of Keele University.
We would like to say a big thank you to all those who have been involved in raising money or who have donated money. We are very pleased to announce that Catrin’s Centre continues to develop each year and our Catrin’s Penguins swimming group is growing, teaching lots of children with disabilities to swim and benefiting so many local people. Thank you so much to Catrin’s family and friends for their support with this incredible project. We are really looking forward to building something very special in honour of such a wonderful, beautiful and inspirational young woman.