This year’s Panathlon Jack Petchey Awards Ceremony takes place on November 15 at John Lewis Stratford in London, and will feature the prestigious Jack Petchey Outstanding Achievement Award. Here, we take a look at Samantha Holland, one of this year’s nominees for our top prize in the London and Essex area.

Samantha Holland’s enthusiasm, positive outlook and resilience earned her a fully-merited nomination for this year’s Jack Petchey Outstanding Achievement Award, Panathlon’s top individual honour in the London and Essex area. 

At the age of eight months Samantha, who is now 15, was diagnosed with a brain tumour that  caused her to have hemiplegia, which presents as unilateral cerebral palsy.  

A stroke in the time before, during or after birth is the most common cause of hemiplegic CP. Multiple factors may interact to block the blood vessels in the brain and cause a stroke. Many times the cause of the stroke will never be known. 

As one side of the brain is injured, the opposite side of the body is affected, which can result in weakness of an arm, leg or both on one side of the body – as is the case with Samantha.  

Her left leg is slightly shorter than her right and her muscles are tight around her ankle, which causes her to walk with a limp. She has had to wear various adapted boots and splints, which she has had problems with over the years, and she even had her leg casted to try to give her more flexibility. 

She is independently mobile, but has difficulties with balance and bilateral coordination. Her left arm is shorter than her right and she has limited movement in her left hand, which makes it difficult to do everyday tasks, like dressing and life skills. 

Despite all of this, she is still keen to take part in physical activity and in particular Panathlon events, seeing it as a key part of the wellbeing programme she is on. 

Samantha became involved in Panathlon through the multisport programme in 2015 as a member of the Hillingdon team. She has always been enthusiastic about Panathlon and particularly enjoys table cricket. 

Samantha attends Ruislip High School, where she is taught by Janet Edwards. She commented: “Samantha’s enthusiasm and positive attitude have a massive impact on those around her. She never lets the disability she has hold her back, making her a role model for all at Ruislip High.” 

She often encourages others who take part in sport, especially at Panathlon events. Last year she took part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and received her Bronze Award. She is hoping to complete the Silver later this year. 

Outside of school, she is goalkeeper for a local football team and has been a Girl Guides helper. 


Colchester teenager Ethan-Beau Howes won the Jack Petchey Outstanding Achievement Award in 2016. 

Ethan-Beau was the eighth winner of the annual award, which celebrates some of the most inspirational individuals to compete in London & Essex Panathlon events each year. 

This year’s Panathlon Jack Petchey Awards Ceremony takes place on November 15 at John Lewis Stratford in London. 

Jack Petchey - Large  John Lewis Stratford City