A highly decorated North East Paralympian helped to raise the profile of a Hartlepool-based charity when he paid a special visit.
Six times Paralympic medal winner Stephen Miller spoke about how he overcame the challenges of his disability to achieve sporting success at Families First North East in York Road.
Stephen, from Cramlington, in Northumberland, learned about the expanding work beyond Hartlepool of Families First, which supports disabled and underprivileged young people and families through a number of different services.
He also helped to launch their new fundraising appeal Give Us A Hand to an audience of current supporters and potential backers.
Stephen said: “I was asked to come down by Families First to support this event to try to encourage people in the area to support the charity.
“I know they do a lot of great work for disabled and underprivileged people in the Hartlepool area.
“It has been really good to find out what they do. I hope this kind of thing can be expanded in more areas in the North East.
“I’m hoping we can work together more through my own company SMILE Through Sport.”
Stephen, who has cerebral palsy, has won three gold, one silver and two bronze Paralympic medals.
He was captain of the Male Athletics squad at the 2012 London Paralympics and set a world record at the Athens Paralympics in 2004.
Last year, Stephen was awarded an MBE for services to sport.
Pamela Hargreaves, chair of trustees of Families First, said: “We are honoured and delighted that we were joined by Stephen and got to be in the company of a gold medal winning Paralympian.”
Families First is 30 years old this year and supports around 300 families with additional needs in Hartlepool alone.
Stephen, who specialises in club throwing, told how he had received great support from his parents from a young age to try anything he wanted.
He said: “The more positive you can be the more positive things can happen in your life.
“I’ve had a fantastic career. I have been all over the world, did some fantastic things and met some amazing people.”
The Mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor Paul Beck, was one of the invited guests.
He described Stephen as a great ambassador for disabled sport.