13 Jun Help Thomas bowl his way to Paralympics
Cerebral palsy hasn’t stopped sport-loving Thomas Ferry becoming a champion.
The 16-year-old may be wheelchair-bound but he won’t let that stand in his way and is dreaming of a Paralympic career playing Boccia.
The precision ball sport, which is similar to bowls, is practised by others like Thomas who have physical disabilities and he is a dab hand at it.
While Thomas, from Southwick, Sunderland, adores football, his physical limitations don’t allow him to play it. So his family were overjoyed when he found a sport he could not only do – but excelled at.
Thomas has a twin brother with even more severe disabilities meaning mum Helen Morgan, 38, and dad David Ferry, 42, have their hands full.
Jack is yet to be diagnosed with a condition but cannot walk, talk, hear or sign making everyday communication a struggle.
Thomas, a Sandhill View pupil, has found his passion with Boccia and plays with SMILE through Sport, an organisation founded by Paralympian Stephen Miller.
“He’s dying to meet Stephen”, Helen, a full-time carer said. “He started to play Boccia in the last couple of years and he’s really good at it.
“It’s lovely that he’s been able to start and mix with other people with disabilities which he doesn’t get to do at school.”
Thomas recently competed in the Boccia Heathcoat Cup Finals in Hertfordshire and took home gold which meant he was invited to compete in the Boccia England Cup in Sheffield.
He didn’t win any of his games but his mum and dad were full of pride as he battled against competitors who had been a part of Team GB.
Helen said: “He was quite calm, it was me and David who were nervous. We always tell him to just enjoy it and it doesn’t matter what happens. As long as he has a smile on his face, we’re happy.
“He gave them a run for their money and there was even a girl who won a medal in Beijing. He thoroughly enjoyed himself and he wasn’t upset that he didn’t win.”
His success means the world to his proud parents who love watching their son, who also suffers from hearing loss and has a cochlear implant, having fun.
Helen added: “It means a lot to us because he’s doing something he enjoys. He loves football and he can’t play it. It’s been so hard to find a sport that he loves and he can actually play and that he’s good at.”
But for Thomas to continue to improve his game and more importantly continue to have fun, he needs his very own set of Boccia balls to practise with at home.
The set costs £223, stretching family funds, but it is vital for his involvement in the activity which has given him so much joy.
Thomas is one of 10 children chosen by the Sunshine Fund to benefit from the donations they receive throughout their Go Bananas appeal.
The month-long campaign aims to raise £60,000 to buy specialist equipment needed by these inspiring young people from the North East.
“If he had his own balls he could practice all the time and really further himself,” Helen added.
“He’s talking about wanting to get in the next Paralympics and talking about the future which means so much to us because he never really talked about the future before.
Stephen Miller’s wife Rachel works closely with Thomas at SMILE through Sport.
She said: “Thomas is a very determined young man and is willing to train and work really heard to get where he wants to be. The only thing holding him back at the minute is not having his own equipment.”