On Tuesday, 1st of March, we were honoured to have a visit from David Follet, English wheelchair badminton player and bearer of the Olympic torch, along with Tessie, his assistant dog and friend.
David began by telling us about his disability, the result of an accident three weeks after his eighteenth birthday, which left him paralysed from the chest down. After treatment in Plymouth, he went to Salisbury spinal unit to being his rehabilitation. Throughout, David’s family and friends supported him, which he felt he was ‘really lucky’ to have. Despite suffering this setback, David went onto finish his A-levels and began driving again, using a specialist steering wheel. He also participated in trials for a special exoskeleton, designed to help disabled people walk again. The current cost is £100,000.
He also tried out many different sports, such as wheelchair basketball and rugby. However, it was after watching a wheelchair badminton demonstration that David found the right sport for him. He was attracted to the sport because of the speed and skill involved. Since then David has progressed to competing in international competitions, with his first World championship in 2011. Last year, David was able to finish in the final 16 in the world tournament, demonstrating his skill and determination to succeed.
Another highpoint for David was his nomination to bear the Olympic torch. He confessed he was surprised by the level of support he received when he carried the flame .
As well as talking about his past achievements, David also spoke about his future plans; to play for England in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, as well as to begin a family with his wife, who he meet in 2011. He also wants to go on and teach his sport to children.
One of the most interesting parts of the talk was the demonstration of Tessie’s skills. As an assistance dog, she is trained to fetch, carry and pick up fallen objects. She can also high five and shake hands, which David and Tessie kindly demonstrated to us.
At the end of the assembly, the school donated a cheque of £250 to David’s badminton club, the Devon Racqueteers. We wish David all the best in achieving his goals and in reaching the Olympics in 2020 and look forward to seeing him again in the summer.
Written By Oliver Turner