Riley Barber, of Albert Pye Primary School in Beccles, received the Emma Holloway Foundation Outstanding Achievement Award, after the nine-year-old’s confidence was boosted by competing in Panathlon events.
Neil Holloway, from the Foundation, handed over the trophy (pictured above), which recognises young people’s achievement in overcoming challenges that exist in their life and how their involvement in Panathlon has helped create the change.
The Suffolk youngster was also presented to Team England wheelchair racer Will Smith (pictured left) as Riley’s school won the North Suffolk Primary Panathlon in Lowestoft.
Riley said: “I am really pleased – I was nearly crying with joy. I am going to keep the trophy on the side and my mum is going to keep it clean. I will take it into school to show my friends. I have really enjoyed the day.”
When Riley was a toddler, his parents were told that his dyspraxia and learning difficulties would prevent him from reaching many physical milestones unaided, such as riding a bike.
However, his participation in Panathlon events has helped him far exceed medical expectations and become an inspiration to other pupils.
His confidence has soared to such an extent that he has had less one-on-one support in class and he has taken it upon himself to try to achieve academically as well.
His mum, Clair Webb, said: “I am extremely proud of Riley. He has grown in confidence ever since he started doing Panathlon events and this has been the first chance for him to represent his school in sport.
“It is fantastic that Albert Pye has become involved in Panathlon. We have had training and events at the school, and now we compete externally in the county. I wish every school would do the same. You can see it in the pupils’ faces how proud they all are competing.”
Riley’s school sports instructor, Stuart McKenzie, praised him, saying: “Riley loves all sports and has previously turned up for every trial in every competition.
“He comes to every event, is always enthusiastic and doesn’t take no for an answer.
“He works incredibly hard and it has been so nice to see him improve. This has improved his confidence and been noticed by his classmates.”
It has also allowed his grandparents see him compete, something they thought they would never see.