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Paralympic hero proud of students
8:00am Monday 7th January 2013 in News
A BLIND swimmer from Kidderminster who spearheaded the 2012 Paralympic Games visited the old school he left 20 years ago to present pupils with awards for their achievements.
Chris Holmes returned to Baxter College for its annual presentation evening to hand out the gongs to present and former pupils.
The multi-gold winning swimmer, who lost his sight as a teenager, was aided by his guide dog Lotte as he presented the students with their GCSE and A-level certificates.
He also handed out a range of awards and trophies for outstanding effort, enthusiasm and achievement.
Mr Holmes said: “It was a real pleasure to return after 20 years and share in the school’s successes.
“There is a synergy and atmosphere in the school, which I could tangibly feel.
“I am so proud to be associated with the school that gave me my start in life.”
Special awards were given to students Josh Phillips for progress, Georgina Cheadle for achievement, former teacher Peter Williams for outstanding service, and Drew Hanslow for achieving against the odds.
Pupil Hannah Wilson also scooped a Princess Diana Award for achieving “exceptional” results in her GCSEs last year, despite the unexpected death of her father.
Principal Dave Seddon said: “[Chris Holmes’] address was inspirational and the 250-strong audience hung on his every word. He is a role model for our current students to aspire to.”
Mr Seddon said the evening brought down the curtain on the “school’s most successful year”.
Despite losing his sight at 14, Mr Holmes went on to study politics at Cambridge University and gained international success in the pool.
Since calling time on his swimming career, he has become a major force in the drive to improve the lot of British disabled athletes.
He is a patron of the Help for Heroes charity and the British Paralympic Association and has been a board member at UK Sport since 2005