A para-triathlete who went from fearing he would never walk again to becoming a two-times world champion will tell students at a Shirebrook school to never give up when he addresses them at their annual awards evening.
Steve Judge, who nearly lost his legs in a near-fatal car accident in 2002, has accepted an invitation to be the guest of honour at Shirebrook Academy’s Celebration Evening on October 23.
The evening is held to reward students across all of the Academy’s year groups who have performed well and exceeded expectations in their studies and other school activities.
Steve now makes his living as a life coach and motivational speaker – he has just been voted Yorkshire's Speaker of the Year 2018 by the Professional Speakers Association – and his calling often involves telling the story of how a car crash on the outskirts of Sheffield in 2002 changed his life.
Trapped in his car after he skidded off the road and hit a lamppost, he had to be freed by firefighters. He was taken to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital, where 100mm of his right leg had to be removed, with the two halves reconnected using a metal fixator.
His left knee, meanwhile, had suffered inoperable damage to his ligaments, which were removed and replaced with pig ligaments in an operation which, while successful, has left him unable to raise his left foot and with no feeling below the knee.
He feared that he would never be able to walk again, but 16 months later the fixator was removed and he was able to stand. Before his accident he had been an active runner, but in 2009 he decided that he wanted to be a paratriathlete, competing against the best in running, cycling and swimming.
Through his own determination, he not only achieved his aim, he amassed a series of titles, including the British title five times, a European Championship and the world championship in 2011 and 2012.
He said: “I’m honoured to have been invited to Shirebrook Academy to talk to the students and present them with their awards and I’m very much looking forward to it.
“The message I want to send out is that life isn’t about winning but it’s about setting goals and never giving up on them. I always think that’s really important for young people, who have their own struggles but haven’t seen enough of life to realise what’s possible yet.
“I always try to encourage them to realise that the world is bigger than their village or town and if they open their minds and hearts to what they want, then they will realise what school can do to help them get there.”
Mark Cottingham, principal at Shirebrook Academy, said: “We have had some tremendous guest speakers down the years and I’m sure Steve’s story will inspire our students.
“We spend a lot of time in school talking to students about the need to be resilient and never giving up, and Steve is a living embodiment of not only overcoming a significant challenge, but doing so with extraordinary results.
“The Celebration event is one of my favourite events in the school calendar because although all of our students are special, it gives those who have gone the extra mile to study harder or maybe act as a role model for their peers the chance to shine.”
Shirebrook Academy is based in Common Lane, Shirebrook. It has 840 students and was rated “outstanding” by Ofsted in 2013, with staff and pupils alike praised by inspectors, who also singled out the considerable care the school gives to individual students as one of the Academy’s particular strengths.
In May 2017 Shirebrook Academy joined Aston Community Education Trust (ACET), benefitting from the efficiencies to be gained from high quality centralised services and the challenge and support of ACET’s School Improvement Team.
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