Haverhill Paralympian helps to fire young people’s inspiration

The support team at the Cangle Foyer with Caroline Maclean and residents.  Picture:  Mark Westley ANL-150915-153654009
The support team at the Cangle Foyer with Caroline Maclean and residents. Picture: Mark Westley ANL-150915-153654009

Paralympian Caroline Maclean dropped into an open day at a Haverhill supported housing scheme for young people to help inspire them to greater things.

The 40-year-old from Haverhill appeared at four Paralympics with the GB Wheelchair Basketball team, from Sydney 2000 to London 2012, captaining the side at the 2008 Beijing games, before retiring from international competition.

She visited the open day being held at the Cangle Foyer on Tuesday (15) at the request of Dave Robertson, a project assistant at the Foyer who is also her partner.

The Foyer is run by Riverside ECHG and helps young people aged 16 to 25 to stabilise their lives and gain training and skills to live independently and find a career path.

Caroline, who was also a reserve for the GB team at the 1996 Atlanta Games, took along items of her training kit, two each from Beijing 2008 and London 2012, which she raffled to raise funds for the Foyer.

She also took the Olympic torch that she carried through Haverhill in the build up to London 2012.

She said: “Dave is my boyfriend and I wanted to do something, because I know how important it is for him and I wanted to help a little bit.

“I don’t think a lot of people realise what a good job these people do.

“I think it’s good to let people know what it is all about.”

Dave teaches the residents music, using it as a therapy for them to overcome some of their challenges.

He said: “The purpose of today I think was to try and get people to understand the work that we do here.

“It’s not clear cut, it’s quite involved.

“It was just so nice that Caroline could bring down her torch as well. It’s a once in a lifetime thing and for people here it’s a thing to remember.

“Caroline is a very good example of what can be achieved in adversity.”

The open day was attended by representatives from other organisations, including a housing options officer, a mental health worker, staff from St Nicholas Hospice Care and Genesis Housing Association, plus the Riverside area manager and the organisation’s main funder.