Nine-year-old Robert Walter of Lindon Bennett School in Hounslow was named as joint winner of the Wembley National Stadium Trust Primary-Aged Achievers Award in November 2014.
Robert has Sturge-Weber syndrome, a rare congenital neurological and skin disorder that left him unable to walk until the age of seven.
Two years ago he started out on a long journey to learn to walk and now, through lots of hard work, physiotherapy and support from family and his school, he is now able to move around school using his Kaye walker independently and has even taken some unaided steps.
Robert loves sport and is always keen to try something new. Through Panathlon he has shown his talents at table cricket and has represented Lindon Bennett at the National Table Cricket competition. This year Robert has also learn to horse ride, but his favourite sporting activity is riding his bike.
Last year he cycled five miles from home to school and was welcomed at the school gates by the whole school cheering him on. He used the opportunity to raise a significant amount of money for the school.
“Robert is the sporting star at Lindon Bennett School,” said PE teacher Ben Ryan.
“His determination and courage has been an inspiration to all the children and staff at our school. “His learning to walk is a wonderful achievement and I am immensely proud of him. He has shown us all that through hard work and self-belief, all things are possible.
“It is through Panathlon that Robert has developed his passion for sports and loves the aspect of competing and representing our school and the Borough of Hounslow.”
Robert has been brought up by his grandparents Jim and Mary Reid, who have looked after him since he was two.
“When we took Robert on he couldn’t do anything, only make sounds,” said Jim. “We never thought he’d walk or talk. The change from where he was to where he is now is just unbelievable. We’re very proud of him.”
“Sport has been a huge part of his development. He loves any type of sport. He’ll just have a crack at anything. It’s great that he’s part of a team as he’s a very sociable kid.
“It’s great for the kids to have the opportunity to take part in sport. When I was a kid you would never have got anything like this. It’s only right that they get a crack at sport the same as any other kid. Sport is great for him. All round, you just can’t go wrong with it.”
Mary Reid, Robert’s grandmother, said: “We’re really, really proud of him. He’s been with us seven years now and he’s been just amazing – the stuff that he can do now. Linden Bennett has really, really brought him on. It’s really been a good school for him.”
The inaugural Wembley National Stadium Trust Primary-Aged Achievers Award was presented to Robert and joint winner Kavindu Ranasinghe in the shadow of Wembley’s iconic arch at Powerleague Wembley.
The award builds on the Jack Petchey Outstanding Achievement Awards by celebrating two of Panathlon’s outstanding competitors from the primary age group, with a view to widening the scope of the awards to all primary-aged pupils next year.