Sunderland boy swims with dolphins in once-in-a-lifetime holiday

Matthew Purvis from Sunderland swimming with a dolphin at Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida.
Matthew Purvis from Sunderland swimming with a dolphin at Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida.
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Matthew Purvis, 11, is one of 192 children from across the UK spent a week in Florida on the annual Dreamflight trip.

The youngsters, specially selected by medical professionals, visited the likes of SeaWorld, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens during an all-adventure tour of the Sunshine State.

For many, the trip represented the first time away from home, with volunteer doctors, nurses and medical professionals helping act as chaperones during the holiday.

As a final treat, children were given the opportunity to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove in Orlando.

Several of the children were carefully lifted from their wheelchairs to get into the water, where instructors and carers helped them get up close with the mammals.

Matthew, from Sunderland, said: “I have never swam with dolphins before, so that was probably my highlight.

“I have made a few friends and I think I’ve been really lucky to go on the rollercoasters, it was so exciting.

“I was nervous and scared at the beginning, but then I was excited. I am able to do more things now.”

The charity, which celebrates its 30th year next year, sets out to inspire its young participants into achieving goals despite disability or illness.

Charity founder Pat Pearce said her drive to continue running the annual trip remains as strong as ever ahead of its milestone in 2016.