A PARALYMPIAN told former students of Warrington’s Priestley College that they had inspired her during a ceremony in their honour.
Dame Sarah Storey – a 14-time Paralympic gold medal winner – was speaking at the Class of 2017’s awards evening at St Elphin’s Church.
She told them: “Congratulations to everyone here this evening receiving their awards.
“It is very inspiring to hear of your hard work and resilience in overcoming challenges and hurdles to get to where you are today.”
Sacrifice and success have been part of Dame Sarah’s 25-year career in which she has won 25 Paralympic medals and become Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian.
During her speech she told Priestley’s alumni that – without dedication, drive and determination – they would always fall short.
“Don’t be afraid to take new opportunities, if a different door opens then take a look inside and see if it’s a new direction you would enjoy,” she said.
“You might find something you are even better at, so don’t be afraid to change paths because life is a journey and if you follow your dreams you won’t go too far wrong.”
Earlier in the evening soprano Erin Alexander, a former Priestley student who has performed at The Vatican, amazed the audience with renditions of “One Moment in Time” and “O Mio Babbino Caro”.
Each year Priestley honours the academic achievements of its departing students as well as recognising the successes of those who have overcome personal difficulties including homelessness and serious health issues.
Solvay, Warrington Wolves and the town’s mayor were among those who sponsored awards that included honours for different subject areas, for endeavour as well as contribution to college and community life.
Principal Matthew Grant said: “Priestley stands out as a college that really does care about every single student, where we seek to bring out the very best in everyone.
“I’m exceptionally proud to be the principal at Priestley, I’m proud of your achievements and I know the staff at Priestley get so much pleasure in sharing all these moments with you.”