Panathlon honour for ‘Outstanding Young Leader’

Holly has been honoured at Panathlon’s Jack Petchey 2017 Outstanding Achievement awards for her incredible verve and commitment as a young leader.

The 15-year-old helps out at the charity’s sports competitions for children with disabilities and special needs, acting as an official as well as guiding and encouraging the young competitors.

The student at Chessington Community College in Kingston upon Thames has volunteered at 10 Panathlon competitions. The charity gives over 13,000 children with disabilities and special needs every year the opportunity to engage in competitive sport.

Holly was named as a runner-up in the Outstanding Young Leader category at Wednesday’s awards ceremony at John Lewis Stratford City, which overlooks the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park.

When acting as a Panathlon Young Leader, Holly guides young participants in activities such as wheelchair and running races, boccia, precision bean bag, long jump and new age kurling.

“Once, this little girl had to run from one end of the sports hall to the other, then back again” she remembers. “I was cheering her on at the halfway point but when she reached me, she just gave me this massive hug! I said, ‘No! You’ve got to keep running!’

“The boy running after her then did exactly the same thing! It was such a lovely, sweet moment – and they still won, despite their little pit stop!

“I just really like seeing the disabled kids have the opportunities that they may not otherwise get. I do lots of sports myself and when someone else can do what you enjoy doing and you can see them having fun, it’s so nice.”

Panathlon is just part of a huge number of out-of-school leadership activities that the sports-mad teenager throws herself into.

She is captain of several swimming teams including underwater hockey, water polo and life-saving and teaches dance (ballet, tap, StreetDance and contemporary) five hours a week to 2-11-year-olds. She also coaches and play netball and has personally choreographed her school’s upcoming performance of the Little Shop of Horrors.

Factor in her schoolwork and the obvious question is; how does she find the time? “I get asked that question a lot!” she laughs. “I make time, rather than find time. Mum’s not always happy about it, but I just love all my activities.”

Her mum Kirsten commented: “Holly is amazing. She is very self-driven. We facilitate things but she just wants to do it. Everything she does, she always tries her very hardest.”

“She just wants others to enjoy the same things she does. She wants people to meet challenges, that’s what she thrives on.”

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