Medal-winning Paralaympian Amy Marren inspired Year 7 boys when she visited to give a guest assembly – but also stressed the hard work, planning and discipline needed to combine her swimming with a legal career.
Amy, who is 20, was invited to the School because she is close friends with QE Technology Assistant Stephanie Tomlinson.
At London 2012 she made her Paralympics debut as one of the youngest GB athletes. The following year she won four titles at the IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal, as well as four gold and two silver medals. She won bronze in the Individual Medley at Rio in 2016.
Alongside her swimming training, Amy is a paralegal apprentice. Combining the two activities requires a 5.30am start five days a week in order to squeeze in 24 hours a week in the pool and gym and 40 hours of work and studying.
Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This was a very positive and inspiring assembly, promoting pride in difference and emphasising what can be achieved with character, dedication and ambition.”
Amy, who was born with disability (a missing hand), not only competed at Rio but has won a World Championships and met the Queen. She feels “lucky and privileged to compete” and undertakes work to support others, such as being patron of a charity that teaches disabled children to swim.
Speaking about the challenges of coping and adapting with one hand, she said: “I used to be shy, but am proud of who I am… You should always be you, that’s very important.
“People do treat you a bit differently, and in some ways you are different – I was 13 before I could tie my own shoe laces – but I am proud to be different now. There are no limits to what you can achieve.”
In the past, she used to “hide” her arm within a prosthetic limb to look “normal”.
Amy stressed the value of turning to family and friends to help – “you are not alone” – and she urged the boys to be kind to one another, treating those who are different in some way just the same as anybody else.
In a question-and-answer session, she spoke further about her sporting and personal achievements, her experience of disability and of any discrimination she had encountered.