Special visitors at Thetford leisure centre

Former jockey Bob Champion and  former footballer Peter Shilton (photos: Mark Bullimore)
Former jockey Bob Champion and former footballer Peter Shilton (photos: Mark Bullimore)

Sporting legends Peter Shilton and Bob Champion met hundreds of disabled children at a special event in Thetford on Wednesday.

More than 400 children from 15 special schools across Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire were invited to take part in the Sports Experience Day at Breckland Leisure Centre in Croxton Road.

Pedal karts were among the sporting activies on offer

Pedal karts were among the sporting activies on offer

The event, run annually by the President’s Sporting Club/Essex Disabled Sports Foundation, aims to increase the self confidence, physical development and self esteem of children with special needs through sport.

This year the children were given the opportunity to experience more than 20 sporting activities from American football, volleyball and trampolining to bouncy castles, a penalty shoot-out and bowls.

Former England footballer Peter Shilton, who holds a record 125 caps for England, and former jockey Bob Champion, who won the 1981 Grand National, were also there to inspire and have fun with the children.

Brianne Hogg, PE co-ordinator at Riverwalk School in Bury St Edmunds, said their pupils had a ‘fantastic’ time in ‘really inclusive’ activities.

Sporting legends Peter Shilton and Bob Champion with Kate Milbank, chairman of Breckland Council

Sporting legends Peter Shilton and Bob Champion with Kate Milbank, chairman of Breckland Council

She added: “It was as brilliant as it is every year. It’s always very well organised – they have so many volunteers who are absolutely fantastic with all the pupils.”

Breckland Council chairman, Cllr Kate Millbank said it was ‘humbling’ to see the efforts everyone had gone to to ensure the children had fun, including one boy who was bounced on a trampoline in his wheelchair and ‘absolutely love it’.

She added: “What struck me most, I’m a mother of two children and one grandson, was all these children with disabilities coming together. You don’t normally see that many people all in one place and it just felt fantastic the things people had in place for them. And they all loved it, they were so happy and having a great time.”

The President’s Sporting Club/Essex Disabled Sports Foundation has now raised £2.5 million to provide sporting facilities and opportunities for children with special needs in East Anglia and the home counties. Find out more about the charity at www.presidentssportingclub.co.uk.

Youngsters enjoying the parachute activity

Youngsters enjoying the parachute activity

Sports Expereince Day at Breckland Lesiure Centre, in Thetford

Sports Expereince Day at Breckland Lesiure Centre, in Thetford

Former England footballer Peter Shilton in goal at the penalty shoot-out

Former England footballer Peter Shilton in goal at the penalty shoot-out