Paralympic athlete Mel Clarke inspires Shropshire students

She has gained a podium place in the last two Paralympics and is in training to achieve the feat again in Rio next year - but Mel Clarke has taken time out of her busy schedule to inspire students at a north Shropshire school.

The paralympic archer spent a day telling pupils at Thomas Adams School in Wem just how to make the most of themselves.

The international athlete, who has won National, European and World Championships throughout her distinguished career as well as a bronze medal in Beijing in 2008 and a silver medal in London 2012, spoke about training in leadership and showed the students just what she can do with a  bow and arrow.

Headteacher Liz Dakin said: “This visit is a huge coup for the school.

“To have a medal winner come and speak to our students has been an inspiration, it is not something that happens every day.

“The students have learnt first-hand that sport can teach them so much, whether it is social skills or focus and determination - the talk that Mel gave, drawing on many of her own past experiences, included important life lessons.

“We believe this will help throughout school and college but also later in life, whether experiencing setbacks or going for a job interview.”

Mel, who discovered archery whilst looking for outdoor activities for her Girl Guides group in Norfolk, visited the school in Lowe Hill Road as part of the Sky Sports Living for Sport project.

The project involves athlete mentors visiting UK secondary schools to boost confidence, change behaviours, increase attainment and improve life skills.

The 33-year-old, whose dream of archery success was thwarted when she went blind in one eye after contracting Lymes disease, aims to inspire as many pupils as possible through the project.

She said: “I was previously an ambassador for sport for my county and I have seen the positive impact sport can have on the younger generation.
“I enjoy passing on my experience and knowledge to others in the hope of getting more young people interested in sport.

“Sky Sports Living for Sport is a great opportunity for pupils, who may not otherwise have had access to sport, to get involved.”

PE teacher Liam Allen helped arrange the visit and said the pupils involved got a lot out of it.

He said: “Mel’s story of triumph over adversity has helped to support teachers to motivate the pupils to be the best they can be.

“Year nine pupils who listened to the talk and took part all said it was very interesting and they felt prepared to take on leadership roles and make a difference.
“We are very pleased Mel was able to come along and speak to us.”