Paralympic swimmer Graham Edmunds sets gold standard in self-belief for St Bart’s students
A Paralympic gold medal winner has been inspiring students at a Newbury school and told them "not to give up when life gets challenging".
Graham Edmunds is a swimmer who has taken part in three Paralympic Games, winning two gold medals in world record times.
He shared his comeback story with Year 12 and Year 9 pupils at St Bartholomew's School, where he talked to them about the power of self-belief, hard work and being open to all opportunities.
Mr Edmunds started his story at the point of being told that he would never walk again following a motorcycle accident in 2000. He told pupils that at that point he had two choices – to quit or to prove them wrong.
He began swimming as part of his physiotherapy routine and this quickly became a path and a passion that provided him with his next big goal – to become a Paralympic champion.
Mr Edmunds, who brought in his Paralympic medals for students to hold, said: “It was great to visit St Bart's. The students were brilliant with their questions surrounding the talk, which showed how much they had engaged and taken on board the messages.
"Resilience is one of the most important values to learn, especially over the last few years.
"Choosing the easy option and not facing up to your challenges will always be appealing during times of duress. However, the lessons learnt from the more challenging option of working to resolve those challenges are always more beneficial.
"The students at St Bart's have so much potential and I wish them all the best with their pursuits and overcoming their own challenges.”
Sixth form year leader, James Wilder, added: “It was brilliant to see our students relate to the challenges that Graham had to overcome.
"His story is truly inspirational. Everyone has their own challenges in life, but it is important to keep pushing forward and pursuing your goals.
"St Bart’s own school values – Bravery, Ambitious, Respectful, Trustworthy and Safe – are at the heart of our school community and conversation.
"Our students will soon be deciding their paths after sixth form and I hope Graham’s compelling presentation inspires them to choose the daring path filled with adversity, adventure and endeavour.”
Student school officer, Macauley Farry, said: “Graham Edmunds was incredibly inspiring. It was moving to hear his story of how he had to learn to live his life in a whole new way and how that change in direction led him to become a gold medallist Paralympian.
"No matter what hurdles are thrown in your way you can still accomplish great things.”