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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Dalton Paralympian visits his former school

PARALYMPIAN Charlie Walker inspired children at a visit to his old school.

The Team GB athlete was welcomed back with cheers as he returned to St Mary’s CE School, in Dalton, yesterday.

He said: “It just looks the same. It’s a blast from the past.

“I started here in year two. I was about seven.”

He said while growing up he lived “just around the corner in Scales Close”.

In 2006, Walker had to have a double amputation at a Cambridge hospital after contracting meningitis while working as an army bomb disposal officer.

“I was only in the army for a few weeks before I contracted meningitis,” he said.

“Losing my legs was horrible, though it gave me the chance to play sitting volleyball, which is great.”

Walker has been playing sitting volleyball for three years, although it was his first Paralympic Games this summer, at London 2012.

The 32-year-old, who has won more than 50 caps since his debut at the World Cup in 2010, said he was thrilled to play the sport at the Paralympics.

“It was an unbelievable experience. It gave me the chance to play in front of 10,000 people,” he said.

“It’s incredible exposure. I hopefully got a few more people interested in the sport.”

Mick Cull, Year Six teacher at the school, said the children had been excited about seeing the athlete ever since they were told he would be coming a week ago.

Mr Cull said: “It’s really inspiring that somebody who sat in this hall has gone to represent the country at the highest level.”

During his inspirational talk, Walker told the school children: “I train everyday, as much as you are in school.

“I’m training solidly, about 25 to 30 hours a week.”

The athlete is going back to university this year to study prosthetics at Salford University, as well as training for the World Championships.

“It’s going to be a bit hectic, but it will be worth it,” he said.

“Hopefully I can come back after the Rio Paralympics with some medals to show the kids.”

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