Boy with rare blood disorder gets chance to quiz athlete

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A boy who lives with a rare condition was given the chance to quiz a Paralympian swimmer.

William Wright, 11, from Halifax, attended a unique swimming academy in London for boys with a rare bleeding disorder after being nominated by a nurse at his local haemophilia centre.

The Buddy Award Swimming Academy, hosted by Paralympian swimmer Jack Bridge, brought together 24 boys for a specially tailored day which included swimming coaching, advice from physiotherapists and a question and answer session with the London 2012 athlete and holder of six British swimming records, who has severe haemophilia A.

William’s parents, Stephanie and Simon, who accompanied their son to the academy, said: “William was over the Moon to be nominated for the Buddy Award Swimming Academy and he had an amazing day.

“Having a rare disease that many people don’t understand can be quite isolating, so the opportunity to have a fun day with other boys in the same position was one William wouldn’t have missed for the world.

“The icing on the cake was meeting Jack, a world-class athlete who hasn’t let his haemophilia hold him back in any way.”

The Buddy Award Swimming Academy was developed by some of the UK’s leading nurses, physiotherapists, consultants and swimming coaches to create a fun programme that inspires and supports children with haemophilia to take up swimming, and continue swimming in the future.

Steering group member Dr Dan Hart, consultant haematologist at the Royal London Hospital, said: “The Buddy Award Swimming Academy was so much more than just a fun day out. For many of the boys there it was the first time they had met someone around their age with the same or similar condition, never mind someone with severe haemophilia who competed at London 2012.

As well as bringing the boys together, the academy aimed to promote the benefits of swimming, particularly for people with bleeding disorders, so giving the boys access to top coaches and physios helped get that message across.”

Around 23,700 people in the UK have a bleeding disorder and 6,000 have haemophilia, a genetic condition that can cause bleeding into joints and muscles.