SMILE Visits Cramlington Cadets

A local lad, he took time out of his busy training schedule for the 2016 Rio Games to visit Cramlington Army Reserve Centre with wife Rachel. He talked about his life, what drives him to succeed, whilst providing some inspirational answers to a raft of questions posed by his audience. His message was clear, whatever life throws at you “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Stephen, 35, who was born with cerebral palsy, is a professional athlete who has represented Great Britain in excess of 15 years, winning 26 international medals. This includes five at both the Paralympic Games and World Championships and four at the Europeans. Apart from his sporting successes he is a higher achiever in many areas, including completing an honours degree in Business Information Systems at Northumbria University and working part time as a website developer. Stephen also writes, is a motivational speaker, is a Company Director and is Secretary of NUDSA (Newcastle United Disability Sports Association).

Two weeks after Stephen’s visit X Company welcomed back Rachel, a Sports Development Officer to run a cadets’ sports evening with a difference. Together with her husband, she runs a company dedicated to increasing awareness, opportunities and ultimately enjoyment in disability sport. Rachel and a colleague from SMILE Through Sport put 20 cadets through their paces with a varied programme of games and sports. This included the cadets creating their own games, then rising to the challenge when sight, hearing, mobility and communication elements were introduced. They learned how to adapt themselves and their surroundings, and how to overcome various disabilities by “thinking outside the box”. It included playing a type of bowls which is only competed for in the Paralympic Games, and which is a particular favourite of Stephen’s.

The cadets, some of whom have disabilities, had a fantastic evening. Well done everyone involved and thank you to Stephen and Rachel for taking time to visit. A special thank you goes to SI Helen Brown for arranging two thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking evenings for our cadets.