Paralympian is inspiration to children

Graeme Ballard with children and staff at Rainbow HouseGraeme Ballard with children and staff at Rainbow House
Graeme Ballard with children and staff at Rainbow House
Members of a centre for children with disabilities will be glued to their TV screens next month as one of its volunteers is competing in the Paralympics in Rio.

Graeme Ballard, of Chorley, has been a big inspiration to the youngsters he supports at Rainbow House, as he has not let his cerebral palsy hold him back.

The 37-year-old has previously been part of the team in Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

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In May 2012, he became the world record holder in the T36 100m at the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.

At London 2012, his third Games, Graeme won silver in this event, adding to the bronze medal that he won in the T36 200m in Athens.

He most recently won two silver medals at the IPC Athletics European Championships in June 2016 in Italy.

When Graeme was born prematurely, he was so small with under developed lungs, that oxygen starvation caused cerebral palsy. His parents were told he would never walk or talk and would probably not survive beyond his teenage years.

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But his parents, Dennis and Barbara never gave up on him and did everything possible to help him strengthen his limbs.

By the time he was 20 he no longer had to use a wheelchair and started running whilst attending Beaumont College in Lancaster.

His association with Rainbow House started in 2010 when he took part in the Rainbow Ramble. He then started doing talks in schools talking about the work the centre does.

He is now a volunteer classroom assistant helping with the conductive education programme on Wednesday morning each week.

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Julia McDonald, head of conductive education at Rainbow House, in Mawdesley, said: “The children love Graeme and aspire to be like him. His determination is great motivation for them.”

Graeme said: “It’s is a privilege to have the opportunity to work with the youngsters at Rainbow House and it has helped me understand the daily struggles I have and the pitfalls of having cerebral palsy.”

Carole Cochrane, CEO at Rainbow House, said: “Graeme’s contribution to our work at Rainbow House is invaluable and his attitude to life inspirational. We are thrilled that he has been selected for the Paralympics and wish him every success.

“We are looking forward to seeing him return with more medals. ”

Anyone who is interested in being a volunteer can find details and an application form at or they can ring 01704 823276.

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