A PARALYMPIC athlete spoke of his inspirational life to support a Hartlepool school’s drive for academic excellence.
Wheelchair fencing and paracycling star Craig McCann paid a visit St Hild’s Church of England School, in King Oswy Drive, on Monday, March 30, to spend a day inspiring pupils and showing them how to achieve against the odds.
Craig had always been into his sport and was a keen university rower when he signed up to join the RAF at the age of 20.
But his career hopes were shattered when doctors discovered a brain tumour during a medical examination.
Following surgery that lasted 18 hours, Craig underwent extensive rehabilitation before setting out to rebuild his life.
After attending a “Paralympics potential” session in 2010, he was spotted by the British Disabled Fencing Association and he began training as a full-time athlete.
I hope that the pupils will take away valuable lessons from my own story and use them as inspiration to help improve their own outlook on life.Craig McCann, Paralympic athlete
He represented Great Britain at both European and World Championships within his first year as an international athlete, and he competed in his first Paralympic Games just over two years after taking up the sport.
Following London 2012, he left the sport of wheelchair fencing to pursue a new challenge in Paracycling, winning a string of races in his first season.
He visited St Hild’s in his role as an Athlete Mentor for Sky Sports Living for Sport, a free secondary schools initiative that uses sport stars and sport skills to boost pupils’ confidence, change behaviour, increase attainment and improve life skills.
Craig worked with a group of Year 11 boys who are currently involved in the Likely Lads intervention programme run by St Hild’s which provides competition and rewards to improve the academic attainment of pupils.
He spent part of the day working with pupils in the classroom, before later taking part in a series of team-building activities.
Craig said: “I hope that the pupils will take away valuable lessons from my own story and use them as inspiration to help improve their own outlook on life.”
Chris Seymour, assistant headteacher at St Hild’s, said: “We believe it is a real coup to attract someone of Craig’s calibre and we are delighted that he has agreed to work with some of our Year 11 boys.
“As a school, we are only too aware of the significant gap in attainment between boys and girls, both locally and nationally, but this shows how determined we are to tackle the issue and drive up boys’ performance.
“The boys taking part in the Likely Lads intervention programme also deserve a lot of credit for agreeing to come into school during their Easter holiday to work with Craig.”