MSMV! Ambassadors inspire the next generation

Tom Hamer and Josh Walne with pupils from Alder Grange Community and Technology School

My Sport, My Voice! Ambassadors Tom Hamer and Josh Walne took time out of their busy training schedules recently to inspire pupils at Alder Grange Community and Technology School in Rossendale, Lancashire.

Local stars Hamer, a Commonwealth Games silver medallist S14 swimmer, and Walne, England Under-21 Learning Disability Football Team captain, gave motivational talks to more than 120 pupils and teachers at the school.

The visit was extra special for Hamer, from Rossendale, as he attended the school as a child whilst Walne was also educated nearby at Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic College in Burnley.

They spoke candidly about their time at school, how they sometimes struggled academically due to their disability, and how their respective sports have helped them to achieve and grow in confidence.

Hamer, who has been identified by British Swimming as having real potential to win a medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, told pupils that anyone can achieve their goals in life if they work hard enough.

He said: “I wasn’t the most academic at school and I wasn’t even good at sport, I was often the last to be picked at football. But my teachers helped me through it and then I discovered swimming and realised I was good at something too.”

Walne, who plays for Padiham FC in the North West Counties Football League and is a coach for the Danny Ings Disability Sports Project at Burnley FC, echoed those sentiments.

He told pupils: “Be proud of who you are. You don’t have to be academic to achieve at school. Find something you like, work hard, listen to your teachers and coaches and you will be a success.”

PE teacher and organiser of the event, Vanessa Holland was delighted with the athletes’ visit. She said: “Both staff and pupils thoroughly enjoyed it.”

A pupil added: “Meeting Tom and Josh has inspired me a lot. They taught me you can always achieve what you want.”