Sunderland schoolboy strikes gold in sporting triumph
A Sunderland teen with cerebral palsy has scooped gold at the regional championships of disability sport boccia.
Thomas Ferry has come a long way since he and twin brother Jack were born 16 weeks early, weighing just 3lb between them, back in 2001.
The pair were kept in intensive care where they were hooked up to machines to help them breathe while their internal organs finished forming.
Now 15, Thomas, from Norton Road, has taken up boccia, a sport designed for athletes with severe impairments and has already came out on top in his first competition.
Similar in principle to bowls, the target ball sport is played indoors with soft leather balls.
The Sandhill View Academy pupil only took up the sport last year and competed in the Heathcoat Cup Newcastle tournament, held at Gateshead Leisure Centre, on Saturday, March 5, where he won a gold medal.
And mum Helen Morgan, 38, couldn’t be more proud of her son, who she says has grown in confidence since taking up the sport.
"He thoroughly enjoyed it," she said.
"He won three games and lost one, making him the best in the North East in his group.
"Now he will go to the national final to play against other finalists elsewhere in the country.
"We only entered the competition a couple of weeks ago and it was his first competition.
"The family and some of his friends came along to watch him and it has really boosted his confidence.
"We are all so proud."
In the competition, Thomas played against four other people aged between seven and 26 years old, who were put in his group following an assessment of their ability.
Now the youngster looks set to compete in the national Heathcoat Cup Finals on April 29, at the University of Hertfordshire Sports Village, a national competition where he will compete against people from across the country.
Mum Helen added: "Thomas had been interested in it for a while and started a group called Vipers Boccia Academy one Sunday a month in Newcastle where he trains for the sport.
"He also takes part in Smiles Through Sport, as disability sport group where he takes part in different sports include boccia at Sandhill Sports Centre on a Saturday."