Visiting Forest Prep School

On Monday 10 th  October a Paralympic Athlete came to visit Forest Prep School and talk to our pupils about the Paralympic Values and what encouraged him to become a world record setting athlete.Noel Thatcher is a visually impaired, registered blind athlete. He competed in six Paralympic Games (1984 to 2004) winning five gold medals. His two career highlights were winning Paralympic Gold in a world record in Barcelona and winning the 5k in Sydney in a world record.One of his proudest moments was carrying the GB flag for the team in the 2004 Paralympic Games. He did not achieve all of this without great support from his teachers, coaches, team-mates and friends. This was something that Noel was keen to pass on. Noel shared with our pupils his understanding of the Paralympic Values of Equality, Courage, Determination and Inspiration and how Forest Prep School pupils can work hard at all that they do and achieve many great things. We look forward to welcoming Noel to our school again very soon Mrs Kate Clark

Being blind is no barrier for Noel

Noel Thatcher is one of the most successful athletes Britain has ever produced, with 42 gold medals from six Paralympics and other major championships.

In this article on the 16th July 2011 Noel talks about helping those who haven’t been so fortunate as an ambassador for the Seeing is Believing Campaign.

Paralympics ‘Can top main games’

AS THE second round of Olympic ticket sales closes this weekend, there is a message of hope for the thousands who have slammed down their laptop lids in frustration.
Those who have failed to get tickets for London 2012 – the majority of sports fans who tried – will soon get another opportunity to watch the action in the Olympic Park.

Noel Thatcher, a veteran of six Games, believes there will be an even better sporting experience next year at the Paralympics, tickets for which go on sale on September 9.

“If you want to see great spectacle and razzmatazz go to the Olympics, if you want to see great sport with a capital S and see achievement, go to the Paralympics,” said Thatcher, a 5k and 10k runner who competed from 1984 to 2004 and won five Paralympic golds.

“I have no qualms saying that. It might upset some people at LOCOG [the London Organising Committee], but there is very little money there in the Paralympics, very little overt corporate financial overtones. “It is pure sport and, from the human interest point of view, you cannot fail to be moved by it. (more…)

Support for Toyota’s Run for Japan

We were lucky enough to be joined by two top athletes recently, as they helped Toyota’s UK head office raise a further £4,350 for the Japan earthquake and tsunami appeal .

Paralympic gold medallist Noel Thatcher MBE and Tom Williams, marathon runner and presenter of the popular Marathon Talk  podcast, joined a dozen Toyota staff for a 5km sponsored run over Epsom Downs on 13 June.

The event, called Run for Japan , was organised by Toyota employees and raised £2,175 for the British Red Cross appeal. The total was doubled through Toyota’s match funding initiative, the ‘Fund for a Better Tomorrow’, which provides grants to support community initiatives.

A cheque for the additional funding was presented by Naoya Taniguchi, Chairman of Toyota (GB) PLC to the British Red Cross . He said: “We were delighted that Noel and Tom were able to visit us and take part in the run which saw staff raise money for this vital cause.”

Noel, who is registered blind, has competed in six Paralympic Games, winning five gold medals and setting a world record for the 1,500 metres at the Barcelona Paralympics in 1992. He was made an MBE for services to disabled sport in 1997. Fellow runner Tom is a regular marathon competitor, and is the presenter of Marathon Talk  with steeplechaser Martin Yelling.

Noel said: “It’s great to witness people from different walks of life united with one common interest – running – to support those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Both Tom and I are touched by the dedication shown by the Toyota employees and the fantastic amount raised.”

To date, Toyota’s fundraising activities in the UK have raised over £47,000 for the Japan earthquake and tsunami appeal. The money collected will go towards providing first aid, emergency healthcare and helping people to rebuild their communities. If you would like to donate, please visit .

On March 11, Japan was hit by one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in living memory. How can faith help Japan deal with the tragedy? Five-times Paralympic gold medallist Noel Thatcher and his Japanese wife Yuni were deeply moved by the disaster. He believes that the Buddhist concept of letting go of your ego will stand the Japanese people in good stead as they have to pull together to rebuild their lives.

Watch the video here

Run For Japan

British Olympic and Paralympic stars line up to raise funds for Red Cross Japanese Tsunami Appeal

17th March 2011

Some of the biggest names in British running lined up today to launch a significant fund-raising initiative to support the victims of the recent earthquake, tsunami and ongoing nuclear threat in Japan.

Pledges of support from across the running world launched Run for Japan, a unique initiative intended to bring together the global running community in showing solidarity and support for those affected by the disaster and raise funds for the British Red Cross Japanese Tsunami Appeal. World Marathon Record Holder Paula Radcliffe MBE kicked the campaign off with a run from her training base in Albuquerque and a personal donation.

British Olympian Mara Yamauchi, sixth in the Beijing 2008 Olympic marathon, lived in Japan for many years with her husband Shige. She said, ‘The scale of devastation in Japan caused by the earthquake is incomprehensible. Every day we see unbearable suffering and grief. It is heart-breaking to see such destruction. But we can support Japan in rebuilding. Japan is a nation of runners. From recreational runners to Olympic champions, Japanese people just love running. Through Run for Japan, we fellow runners in the UK and around the world can support Japan in recovering from this tragedy. So join me in lacing up your trainers. Let’s Run for Japan!’

The Run for Japan concept is very simple. Starting today for four weeks, runners around the globe are being asked to dedicate just one run to the people of Japan and donate at least one unit of their home currency for every mile that they run. will record a visual portrait of this global project as it grows over time. Runners making their donation online via the website are invited to upload of a picture of themselves in action during their run. The website will create in real time an ongoing representation of all those who have taken part in the project across the globe.

Five-time Paralympic Games Gold Medallist Noel Thatcher MBE explains, ‘Like everyone who witnessed the devastation, I felt helpless and deeply saddened by the tragedy in Japan. I trained there for many years. At the same time I am, as always, humbled by the courage and dignity of those who survived. As runners we can help, one step at a time, to begin the marathon journey of rebuilding and recovering. Please run with me, Run for Japan and upload your image to join what will hopefully be a cast of thousands.’

Three-time World Ironman Triathlon Champion Chrissie Wellington MBE said, ‘I am so incredibly saddened by the scenes of devastation in Japan – the loss of life, destruction, vulnerability, and continued mental anguish and fear – but also we can see hope, solidarity, strength, courage and human spirit. There is always optimism and light amongst devastation and darkness, and Run for Japan will be a small step towards helping to create a light that everyone can focus on and run towards.’

Paula Radcliffe added, ‘Like so many, I was horrified, shocked and moved beyond words by the devastation, loss and suffering in Japan, I have been searching for ways to help and support. ‘Run for Japan’ is such an easy way to do something and I know the running community will come together brilliantly in support for the people of Japan. Please get your trainers on, get out there and run many, many miles to support.’

Ambassador for the Sports Legacy Fund

Noel joined the Vision team in 2010 as an ambassador for the Sports Legacy Fund.

He says “I don’t see barriers, (literally, hence the scars!) and want to help blind and VI children and adults reach their goals whatever they may be, through giving them the opportunity to, if not win medals in sport, then win them in life.”

Noel was born with Optic Atrophy, a degenerative condition affecting the optic nerve affecting all areas of the visual field, close and distant. A bit like looking at a snowy old TV signal, I think (difficult to explain when you have never known any different).

He attended regular infants school where he had to carry a specially made desk between lessons which really helped him fit right in!

Between the ages of 10-18 he attended Exhall Grange School in Coventry, a school for VI and blind children.

Forced to run as part of school system, he hated it! He was caught smoking age 12 and forced to run 5 miles a night for 1 month. This “training” led him to finish 3rd in school cross country and the rest is a matter of public record.

Noel made his International debut at 17, winning a silver medal in the European championships 400m. Since then he has spent 21 years running around in circles all over the world, taking part in 6 Paralympic Games, winning a total of Five Gold medals including a “double” of 5000m/10,000m in Atlanta in 1996. This led to being awarded an MBE by the Queen in the 1997 New Years honours list. (more…)

Pent Valley Technology College

Friday 20 May 2005, saw the grand opening of a new sports facility at Pent Valley Technology College, Folkestone. Champion 110m hurdles world record holder Colin Jackson CBE and Paralympic gold-medallist Noel Thatcher MBE officially opened the new £1.5 million leisure facility at Pent Valley Technology College, to be named V.L.C. (Valley Leisure Centre). Both Colin and Noel were excellent guests as they signed autographs, conducted interviews, gave speeches, met pupils, representatives from the local community and dignitaries throughout a packed afternoon of activities.

The project became a reality following a successful bid by Kent County Council’s, Sports Development Unit to the Big Lottery Fund, the cash has provided the school with the new centre featuring a four badminton court sized sports hall as well as a dance studio, fitness suite, changing rooms, community reception and new PE office. Included within the new building and funded by KCC and the school is a stylish new bistro for school and community use, which replaces the school’s old dilapidated canteen. A new 6th form centre, viewing gallery and meeting rooms.

Edward Fane, KCC Portfolio Manager for the PE and Sport Programme who has lead on the development of the lottery bid, commented that, “This is an excellent school and community facility supported by good and effective partnership work. The grand opening of VLC was extremely well organised and a fitting way to celebrate the completion of the building project and opening of the new facility. The school deserves great credit for their approach to this project and years of hard work that have gone into achieving it. The school and project is actively contributing to the wider strategic aims of the Authority and generally in the delivery of sport and disability sport in the County which deserved the recognition the grand opening brought.”

The project places a strong emphasis on providing access for all members of the community. In particular this project actively targets disabled people and groups. Activities available will include wheelchair basketball, table cricket, boccia, New Age Kurling, and sitting volleyball amongst many others. The venue will also be the host for the 2006 New Age Kurling National Championships – a restyled version of the original game of curling, played on any smooth surface by players of all abilities. Invented by local man John Bennett, who is a KCC Disability Associate Officer, it is now recognised by the British Wheelchair Sports Foundation.

In addition to the capital grant, Kent Sports Development Unit has secured a Big Lottery Fund revenue grant for two new posts. One a Disability Sportslink Officer to assist in the drive to develop opportunities and promote the facility to disabled people and groups. The second joint funded with Shepway District Council is a Community Sports Development Officer to promote sporting opportunities more generally to Pent Valley and the wider Shepway community.

KCC Councillor Michael Hill OBE in his speech at the grand opening recognised hard work behind the scenes that go into establishing these facilities. “This project has received both financial and technical support from Kent County Council and in particular through the development work of KCC Sports Development Unit, whom provide support to more than 600 schools and 15,000 voluntary sports clubs in the county. The school should be credited for their approach to this project and its focus on providing opportunities for people with disabilities. This is part of KCC continued support for schools and community sports facilities on school sites.”

KCC Sports Development Unit Director Chris Hespe said: “Pent Valley Technology College should be congratulated on getting its new sports facility which will be extensively used by the community”.

Pent Valley Technology College Headteacher Gwen Spear said: “The centre provides wonderful opportunities for students to engage in a wide variety of games and other physical activities. The centre will do much to enrich the lives of Pent Valley students and the local community in addition to promoting the development of Folkestone.”

The Big Lottery Fund who are investing £10.5 million into sports facilities in Kent through the PE and Sport Programme, where thanked for their contribution to the project.