Parents of St Peter’s Primary School pupils in Morecambe described the “real thrill” of seeing their children with special needs get a rare sporting experience through Panathlon. 

Pupils Annie Harrison, Luke Diamond and Grace Tomlinson all joined the St Peter’s team in Panathlon’s primary 10-pin bowling competition on Morecambe’s seafront promenade on Thursday 20 October. 

Annie was diagnosed with autism last November and has had additional support for the last three years. Her mum Victoria said: “She has tried for gymnastics and swimming clubs but she hasn’t been able to join in with them, so when we got this letter about the bowling we were really excited. 

“It’s brilliant to have something where it’s a level playing field. My older daughter has just started at high school and she joined in with all the activities at school, but for Annie it has been so limited. She has never represented her school before today.” 

Victoria Harrison with her daughter Annie

For fellow St Peter’s parent Kirstin Diamond, whose son Luke has high-functioning autism, the 10-pin bowling experience was also priceless. 

She said: “He doesn’t get any other experiences like this, so this is absolutely fantastic. 

“My older son hasn’t got special needs and he gets all the opportunities to do sports, but Luke can now see that he can win a medal; he can do it too! 

“He has big issues with noises and cheering, but right now he is absolutely loving it. He keeps coming up to me and giving me a big hug. He is really enjoying this atmosphere. To see him right now is just a real thrill.” 

For Year 6 pupil Grace it was just her third out-of-school trip in her time at St Peter’s. Her mum Jane said: “She doesn’t get out as much as she would like. 

“We know for sure there’s a certain group of children who always get picked for everything, even when you’ve tried out for different things, so you do lose the will to keep trying whether it’s gymnastics, football or whatever. 

“It’s so nice for the other kids to get a bit of a look-in. It’s nice to get recognised and not overlooked. Today has really given her a chance to shine.”

Panathlon Chief Operating Officer, Tony Waymouth, said: “It is fantastic for children with SEND to experience an opportunity like this amongst their peers and get a taste of life outside the school gate.”