Alex and his parents

Alex was born with cerebral palsy. His parents always wanted him to take up a sport, and once he started going to swimming lessons at the age of eight, he was talent spotted after just a few months.

“At first we found it hard to find a club that would cater for a swimmer with disabilities but eventually he joined Tavistock Swimming Club where he really started to develop. When he was just 10, he qualified for the national para swimming championships, winning silver and gold medals. Since then he’s competed internationally and he’s aiming to qualify for the Olympics in 2020 or 2024. There’s a long way to go but he’s so determined and focused on his dream.

He initially attended a mainstream school, but we discovered that we live very close to a specialist swimming school. He impressed at his audition and managed to get a partial scholarship which was brilliant.  However, we weren’t able to cover the shortfall, and that’s when we turned to the MCF.”Alex’s parent

Alex’s father is a Freemason and a member of his lodge that suggested that they look into the MCF’s TalentAid programme. As well as helping with his school fees, the MCF also provides a grant to help with the costs of travel, accommodation and entry fees.

“In order to keep his rankings up, he has to go to certain big competitions, but those are the ones that often cost a lot. Depending on where you have to travel, a single meet can cost as much as £600 so as you can imagine, the costs can rack up very quickly!”

Being at the new school has made such a difference. The swimming is very much integrated into his education and because he does all his training at school, it saves time and means that he can focus on his schoolwork as well. The school is also very invested in his education and he’s doing well, which is important because he will need those skills in the future.

“It’s been incredible to watch him grow and develop in something he loves. It has really helped his confidence and he’s so independent and responsible now. I used to worry about the future, but now I know he’ll be fine.

As far as his disability is concerned, just being fit and active has helped him so much. At the school he’s treated just like any other swimmer and he competes at ‘normal’ meets as well. They don’t treat him any differently because of his disability, which has been good for him.

To anyone else considering an application, we would say ‘Just apply!’ It’s so important not to be frightened to ask for help. It really has changed our lives being able to support Alex in his dreams.

I’ve never minded running around giving him lifts or the early mornings, the only issue was the money! Now we can enjoy his success, rather than always worrying about how we’re going to afford it.”

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