FORMER WBC Heavyweight Champion Frank Bruno made an appearance in Thetford this week to help promote a sports experience day for disabled children.
The event organised by The Presidents Sporting Club/ Essex Disabled Sports Foundation charity, to which Bruno is president, sets out to offer over 1,500 disabled children from special schools from across East Anglia the opportunity to participate in 30 different sports activities.
Bruno took time to pose for photos and sign autographs for children as they enjoyed themsleves with all manner of activities such as football, cricket, American football, basketball, Ju-Jitsu and even a spot of boxing.
Despite not donning the gloves himself, the popular former sportsman explained his involvement with the charity event.
He said: “I’ve come down here to help out with the kids and come and see what is going on.
“I have four children of my own at home and when you’ve got kids this sort of thing touches your heart and it is excellent to see, that is why I got involved all those years ago.
“Using sport for these children is extremely important. You can see for yourselves how the children are reacting, they’re getting excited and it is great to see them getting involved.”
The charity has now raised well over £1.5 million through initiatives such as the Sports Experience Days and chairman of the foundation, Mike Jackson, echoed the senitments of Bruno as to the importance of such schemes.
He added: “The children here will face immense problems later on in their lives and we use sport as a medium to try and improve their confidence, help their physical development and increase their self esteem, so you can see how important sport can be.
“We provide top performance coaching here at the event. The gymnastic coaches are both internationals, world championship trampolinists are here and Ipswich Town Football Club are doing the football coaching, so we try and allow the kids to get the most out of it from as many sports as possible.
“Twenty thousand children have gone through this programme and we have in turn put an immense amount of funding into schools.
“Two of the people who had funding have gone on and won gold medals at the Paralympics and although this event isn’t about elitism or getting people to win gold medals, if one or two of these children goes on to take up sport seriously then that is fantastic.
“It is great to have Frank Bruno involved. The children may not regocnise him to start with but in terms of their self esteem it is important because if they can go home with a t-shirt signed by Frank and show their mum and dad then it is brilliant.”