A top North East Paralymian has joined a Hartlepool-based charity as its new patron after being impressed with its work on a recent visit.
Professional athlete Stephen Miller, a six-time Paralympic medal winner, will support the work and raise awareness of Families First North East, which supports children and young adults with additional needs.
During his 20-year career in field athletics, Stephen, who has cerebral palsy, has taken every opportunity to inspire others and will help Families First North East to shout about its great work.
He first visited the charity when he was the guest speaker at the launch of Families First’s Give Us A Hand fundraising campaign in October.
Talking about his new role, Stephen said: “I’m really excited to support Families First North East. I believe in their ethos and ambition to help more families.
“It’s important when you don’t have confidence or belief in yourself that you have a positive support network around you.
“I’ve seen Families First North East give that life-changing personalised support, instilling confidence and raising aspirations.
“I’d encourage you all to think about how you can help them continue their work now and, in the future.”
Stephen, from Cramlington, Northumberland, captained the Male Athletics squad at the 2012 London Paralympics and set a world record at the Athens Paralympics in 2004.
Families First North East said his positive outlook and limitless approach to life made him the perfect choice for patron.
Chair of trustees Pamela Hargreaves said: “We’re honoured Stephen has agreed to join the Families First family.
“His desire to challenge barriers aligns perfectly with our values to instil confidence in others to live a fulfilled life.
“For a child with a disability they can face multiple challenges. We play an important role in helping them to socialise, try new activities and be independent.
“Thanks to Stephen we can bring more attention to the important impact we’ve had in Hartlepool for the last 30 years, and help more families that need our support.”
Families First runs more than 10 different projects, from after-school clubs for children with profound and multiple disabilities to social activities for young people with autism.