Paralympic champion Matt Wylie proved to be an inspiration to a brave Wearside youngster as he helped him make a splash.
Washington swimming star Matt, who won gold at last year’s Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, gave a swimming lesson to Hetton six-year-old Charlie Creaser.
The pair first met at the Best of Wearside Awards last month, where Matt won the Sporting Achievement of the Year award and Charlie was recognised as a Child of Courage.
Charlie, who is unable to walk unaided, won the award after walking a mile with the help of his walking frame to raise funds for cancer-battling Bradley Lowery.
Matt and Charlie suffer from cerebral palsy, and after hearing about the youngster’s act, the swimmer felt compelled to reach out to him.
The 20-year-old said: “I had seen Charlie on social media, and then saw him at the awards. I chatted to him and his family and said that I’d help in any way I could.
The fact Charlie was willing to do something like that inspired me to do just a fraction of what he has doneMatt Wylie
“I knew he had done a lot to help Bradley, which was such a selfless act for anyone to do, never mind a six-year-old. The fact he was willing to do something like that inspired me to do just a fraction of what he has done.
“Hopefully Charlie enjoyed it and it will help him, because in the water you get an extra range of movements you can’t get on land.”
Matt taught Charlie at Washington Leisure Centre, which opened 30 minutes early so they could have exclusive access to the pool.
Charlie’s mum and dad, Michelle and Martin, watched with pride as Charlie made progress.
Introducing Charlie to swimming is part of attempts to build up muscle so he can one day walk unaided.
Michelle said: “It’s about trying to build up his core strength, and his physiotherapist said the best thing to try was swimming.
“Matt was great with him and we’re so thankful that he took the time to do that.
“Some of it was basic things that I wouldn’t have even thought of doing with Charlie.
“Matt has got the training aspect of it and he knows himself what it’s like to be in Charlie’s position. He was great with Charlie and to see what he has achieved with the same condition is so inspirational.”
Matt presented Charlie with a Team GB swimming hat and trunks after the one-on-one session.