Sarah was nominated by Cheadle & Marple Sixth Form College as an inspiration and an excellent role model for all their students. The swimmer and cyclist is one of Britain’s most decorated female Paralympians with 18 medals, including seven golds, to her name.
Sarah studied A-levels, including PE, English language and literature and French, at Cheadle & Marple Sixth Form College in Stockport, Cheshire, from 1994-96. To her credit, and with the college’s support, she successfully juggled her intensive training and competitive events with her academic studies, never missing an assignment deadline, no matter where in the world she was competing. She received her A-level results when she was representing Britain at the Paralympics in Atlanta in 1996, where she picked up three gold medals.
Cheadle & Marple Sixth Form College is proud of her continuing success and see her ability to push both her mind and body to their limits in order to achieve against the odds as simply inspirational. Sarah made her international debut as a swimmer in the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics but changed her sport to cycling in October 2005, picking up a gold, two silver and one bronze medal at her first IPC World Cycling Championship in 2006.
After college, Sarah went on to study for a BSc (Hons) in Sports Science at Leeds Metropolitan University and, as both a swimmer and cyclist, has travelled the world as an ambassador for disability sport, gaining 41 gold medals at various championships and breaking 70 world records along the way. This year she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Manchester Metropolitan University and named 2009 Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year.
Sarah said: “I feel very honoured to have been presented with this Award. My time at Cheadle & Marple Sixth Form College was a very happy one. I met many fantastic people, both staff and students, who supported me both practically and emotionally to balance my A-Levels with my quest to further my swimming career.
“When I realised my A-Level exams would take place in the same summer as the Atlanta Games, I was worried something would be compromised but, thanks to the understanding of the college, nothing was and I went onto my first choice of university after winning three gold medals. It was a dream come true and I’m even more grateful to have had the educational opportunities I did as a teenager, because now I’m a full-time athlete, I may need my academic results to fall back on in my life after sport. Cheadle & Marple Sixth Form College will always remain an important place to me and I can’t thank them enough for their continued support and nomination for this prestigious Award.”