Wayne Instrell - East of England Regional Finalist

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Wayne Instrell, Bedford Academy

East of England regional winner

Bedford Academy’s Sky Sports Living for Sport project was designed to help students who were unable to swim. The students involved ranged from Year 9 to Year 12 and received swimming lessons every week for ten weeks.

Wayne was having difficulty in school and had been bullied so badly that he was no longer participating in mainstream lessons. To try and help him regain his confidence, Bedford Academy arranged work experience at his former middle school which was a great boost and improved his self-esteem enough to return to lessons. Just when Wayne was beginning to grow in confidence, his father passed away and the school became concerned as to how he would cope as his father was his hero figure.

Wayne volunteered for the swimming project despite his Mum saying he was scared of swimming.  Wayne found swimming very difficult, sinking unless his feet could touch the bottom, but he worked incredibly hard and, by the end of the 10 weeks, was able to swim a width of the pool and jump into the deep end.

The visit from Athlete Mentor Maggie Alphonsi inspired Wayne to learn more about new sports he could participate in, having enjoyed the swimming project. After her visit he decided to take up rugby and now plays every week for Bedford Blues youth team. This complete turnaround in Wayne’s outlook led to him winning the Pride Award, at Bedford Academy’s Awards Evening, which is given to the student who conquers adversity to achieve against the odds.

Since participating in the Sky Sports Living for Sport project, Wayne has returned full time to mainstream lessons and is no longer afraid to contribute in class. He has also increased the amount of extracurricular activities he takes part in and volunteers his time to the school’s sports leaders.  

Ms. Green, Learning Village Leader at Bedford Academy, commented: “As well as overcoming bullying and confidence issues, Wayne maintained impeccable manners and respect throughout the project. His dedication to PE, and in particular the swimming project, was second to none despite facing some hard challenges. He is a fantastic role model for the rest of his form as he always gives his best and never gives up. I can think of no one who deserves this award more than Wayne.”