Episode 5- Fleur Takes Over

Our guest from Season 2 episode 4 ‘Fierce Fleur’ was Fleur Armstrong. She expressed an interest in podcasting, so we wanted to give her some experience. This episode she takes over as host and interviews Tim Marchinton from Adventure Therapy company – Purple Soup.

Speaker 1:                        Welcome to Loop Me In, the podcast community for parents and carers on raising children with disabilities. Join presenters, Dr. Lisa Interligi and Kristine Christopoulos and their guests in sharing experiences, information, and support ideas to help children with disabilities flourish. Loop Me In is brought to you weekly on platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher, to name a few. You can learn more, connect to the Loop Me In community, and listen to more episodes on our website, loop-me-in.com.au.

Fleur Armstrong:            Hi, everyone. My name is Fleur Armstrong. I’ve had the pleasure of being interviewed by Lisa and Kristine, and today I’m taking over the show. Our guest today is my good friend, Tim, the director of Purple Soup Presents. Our professional relationship started back in 2017 after my accident. If you want hear about that, you can listen to episode [inaudible 00:01:33]. Tim was my recreational therapist, and what a grand job he did, but enough buttering him up. Welcome to Loop Me In, Tim.

Tim:                                  Thanks, Fleur, and I’m very happy to be the first person you’ve interviewed.

Fleur Armstrong:            So Tim, tell us a bit about yourself.

Tim:                                  So my name is Tim Marchington. I’m the director of an organization called Purple Soup. I work as an adventure therapist, so I help people live their very best life, even if they happen to have a disability. So it’s an interesting job. No two days are the same, and I love what I do.

Fleur Armstrong:            What does Purple Soup Presents do?

Tim:                                  So we do a few things. We run camps for children and young adults who are living with a chronic illness or a disability. We’ve done that in 42 countries around the world, but we also do other things, as well. We run corporate events, trivia nights, murder mysteries, which we use to raise money so that we can then send more kids on camp. And then we have an agency where we promote people who have a disability or an injury, have a chance for them to tell their story, and hopefully make a few dollars for themselves along the way, so that’s like a motivational speaker bank. And then the other stuff we do is we help kids with disabilities find bikes that are just for them. We help people scuba dive with their disability and go rock climbing, lots of different things.

Fleur Armstrong:            That sounds awesome, Tim. And where did you come up with the name?

Tim:                                  Ah, so the name is the name of a silly song that we sing at our camps that starts off with one person standing up in front of everybody, pretending to stare at an invisible pot of soup, and they sing one little paragraph of a silly song. I’m not going to sing it for you today. And then what happens is they pick somebody else and they say, “Hey, Fleur, help me sing this song.” And then they get a third person and a fourth person, and in five minutes you’ve got everyone in the room singing a silly song with silly actions. And it’s a great way of just break the ice and get people being a bit out of their comfort zone but having a bit of fun with it.

21 years ago, we started doing that just to warm up people when we would work with groups, and people thought, “That’s a great song. That should be the name of your business.” And I was like, “No, our business should be called Adventure Therapy Australia.” But as we went on, people started to call themselves souper heroes, spelled S-O-U-P-E-R and stars. Yeah, we can’t change it now. It’s too late. So we are called Purple Soup. It’s a ridiculous name, but it means a lot of fun things to a lot of [inaudible 00:04:04].

Fleur Armstrong:            That is actually really catchy. Purple Soup sounds good, I reckon.

Tim:                                  It’s also the name of a Russian soup made out of purple potatoes that’s called borscht. I’ve never tried it. I have no interest in trying it, but if anyone out there in your listening group wants to try some purple soup and call us and tell us what it tastes like, I’d like to know.

Fleur Armstrong:            Yeah, well you and me both. Why is this the career path you chose? What made you want to work with the people with disabilities?

Tim:                                  Yeah, so I used to work at children’s camp. One day while we were running a rock climbing activity on the rock climbing wall, a young man turned up in a wheelchair. I still remember being quite sad that I had to say to him that I was sorry, but we didn’t have any of the equipment that would make that possible for him to participate. And he watched on from the sidelines and he was very sad about that. I was very sad about that. And at that moment, I decided there had to be a way to make sure everyone feels included. So then I started looking for organizations to volunteer with, and I started volunteering specifically on camps for children with a medical condition, and then I went to university and studied that. And then I started traveling overseas and dropping into hospitals in pretty crazy countries and just asking if I could work with their kids for a little while, play some games to keep the kids entertained.

And that built to me then working on camps overseas for kids who’d had life threatening and medical conditions. And then fast forward to this, almost the end of my career. I’m an old man now, Fleur, as you know. I’ve worked with thousands of kids and young adults who’ve had a disability and helped them have adventures. So it’s been a long journey, but it all started at camp, and it’ll probably end at camp for me because camp is my favorite place in the world.

Fleur Armstrong:            Yeah, well, I can see that. It really does bring you joy.

Tim:                                  Absolutely.

Fleur Armstrong:            Yeah.

Tim:                                  There’s a phrase we use at Purple Soup and it says, “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others still get to keep a little bit for themselves.” I certainly find that my life is richer from the people that I’ve been working with over the years.

Fleur Armstrong:            Yeah, that’s beautiful. What kinds of clients would you say you work with the majority?

Tim:                                  Mostly it’s kids and young adults, but we often run camps separately for those two groups, but sometimes the camp might be for kids with a medical condition like hemophilia or epilepsy or ectodermal dysplasia, some really rare conditions. We do some stuff for children who have types of young cancers. And then beyond that, we also work with their brothers and sisters, which we call Siblings Camps. We work with the whole families. And then I work in spinal cord injury and also in brain injury, which you know something about I think, Fleur.

Fleur Armstrong:            Yeah, I do. I know a little bit about that, which brings me to my next question. Could you, Tim, tell the audience your first impressions of me?

Tim:                                  Well Fleur, I’d heard about you by reputation before you ever arrived, because as your family started to arrive in the rehab hospital that I was working at, they told me about this amazing young lady who was an amazing singer and had all these fantastic friends who had happened to have a car accident. So when I first met you, you were still recovering from all your initial surgeries after your accident, and you were sleeping a lot and out of it, but I got to know you through knowing your family. And they told me what an incredible person you were, and I got excited to meet you when you came out of your sleepiness stage. As I got to know you and your friends, I got to see everything they said was true. And then I watched you in rehab fiercely fight to get as much of your function back as quickly as you can. And I still see you doing that, which has been an honor.

One of the other big honors we had is some of the therapists got to come to your 21st birthday and watch you walk up to a podium and make a speech to your family, which was a beautiful thing to do for your 21st, but also a beautiful milestone of your achievements up to that point. Yeah, I feel like I’ve gotten to know you and your family and how fierce you were by reputation and are in actuality.

Fleur Armstrong:            Thanks, Tim. That means a lot. And did you ever think I would be here right now where I am talking to you?

Tim:                                  Did I think you’d be interviewing me on your very own podcast? No, but when you first told me that was an idea you had, I was like, “Of course she will. She’s amazing.” So I’m not surprised that we’re here today.

Fleur Armstrong:            Okay, yeah. And Tim, could you tell everyone a take home message you would like families to hear that may need some extra support?

Tim:                                  Yeah, I think one of my challenges sometimes in my work is watching when communities aren’t necessarily completely understanding, or they make assumptions about people with disabilities. And I think sometimes when just a simple thing about going out to a cafe for lunch and people assume that because they might notice that someone has a disability, they might assume lots of things and treat them differently. That’s really hard to watch, but I believe the world is getting better at this stuff. And I think that people are being more inclusive and more accessible, not only in what physical venues look like for people to get out and about and live their best life, but just how people are treated, is getting a lot better. So I’m excited, and the message I’d like people to retain from the work that I’ve been doing is I’m excited to see how much more inclusive the world is becoming, and that’s mostly about attitude. I’d encourage people to get out, live their best life, do adventurous things, and then come back and tell us all about it.

Fleur Armstrong:            Yeah, I think that’s a good message, Tim. Thank you so much for joining us here at Loop Me In. I highly encourage everyone to check out Purple Soup Presents. Could you tell everyone maybe where they could find this information, Tim?

Tim:                                  Sure. The best place to find us is www.purplesoup.org.

Fleur Armstrong:            Beautiful. Okay, awesome. Everyone, get on your hats and write that into Google and have a look. Awesome, thank you for joining us, Tim.

Tim:                                  Thanks, Fleur. Thanks for having me on the show. Bye everybody.

Fleur Armstrong:            Bye.

Speaker 1:                        Thanks for being part of the Loop Me In community today and joining our conversation on raising children with disabilities. Join us for the next episode on some of your favorite platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcasts. If you would like to support us, please recommend the Loop Me In podcast to your network of parents, carers, and providers. If you would like us to cover a topic or invite a guest to chat, please email us at contact@loop-me-in.com.au or go to our website loop-me-in.com.au.

If you’ve got any feedback, please let us know so we can improve and cover issues you want. And of course, if anything in the podcast today has raised concerns for you, you can contact Beyond Blue on 1-300-224636 or Lifeline on 131114.

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