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Leeds father and son applaused by prime minister for Sport Relief efforts

Sport Relief Fundraisers Andy and Josh Gardner, with Davina McCall at Downing Street

Sport Relief Fundraisers Andy and Josh Gardner, with Davina McCall at Downing Street

  • by Alison Bellamy
 

Prime Minister David Cameron applauded the hard work and commitment of some of Sport Relief’s top fundraisers from Leeds.

Josh and his Dad Andy Gardner joined some of Sport Relief’s most dedicated fundraisers including triathlon hero Davina McCall, (pictured with the pair) at Number 10 Downing Street, hosted by the Prime Minister.

Their Leeds-based project Spider-Y provides a range of sports activities for people with disabilities. Funded by cash raised through Sport Relief, the members are also great fundraisers, raising thousands to date.

Project chairman Andy knows from personal experience how important Spider-Y is to its players. Andy’s son Josh was just nine years old when a million-to-one allergic reaction to a virus left him paralysed from the neck down. Becoming increasingly reclusive as he struggled to adjust to life in a wheelchair, things finally turned around for Josh when he began attending Spider-Y four years ago.

Since then the project has become a major part of the family’s life, with Josh, now 17, competing at national level in basketball, moving into coaching and doing outreach in schools to raise awareness about disabilities.

And since Andy took over as Chairman, Spider-Y has gone from strength to strength, with a big increase in the number of people attending and the type of sports available.

Andy said: “We’ve been supported by Sport Relief, it really helped us when we needed it, so it’s important for us to do our bit so someone else can benefit.”

Josh added: “It’s fantastic to be part of a team, we’re all in it together and we can share our own experiences. My best friend has cerebral palsy. We don’t look at each other and see the wheelchairs, we just go to Spider-Y to play. Nobody cares about the disability, you go to tournaments and they see the person, not the wheelchair.”

The Prime Minister said: “It’s a real honour to welcome these Sport Relief heroes to Downing Street today. From the truly imaginative to the relentlessly gruelling, many of them have overcome incredible personal challenges to help others. Their sheer determination and moving stories are a real inspiration and I am sure they will inspire many more people right across the country to support this brilliant cause.”

Davina McCall, who ran, swam and cycled over 450 miles from Edinburgh to London in her BT Sport Relief Challenge: Davina – Beyond Breaking Point, said: “It’s such an honour to be here with all these brilliant people who have done such amazing things for Sport Relief. I went through some tough times on my challenge this year, but some of these fundraisers have overcome extraordinarily difficult things to do their bit. It’s very humbling. Everyone deserves real recognition for their hard work in support of a great cause.”

This year’s Sport Relief is more ambitious than ever as, for the first time, the public can choose to run, swim or cycle as part of the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games across the weekend of March 21-23.

Anyone inspired by the fundraisers can find out how to get involved too at www.sportrelief.com.

 

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