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Athlete and Firefighter Give Inspirational Talks at Diversity and Equality Conference

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A Gold medal winning Paralympic swimming champion and a firefighter who lost part of his leg in a motorcycle crash, shared their experiences at a special conference on diversity and equality at the University of Worcester.

Sascha Kindred OBE (left) is one of Britain's most successful Paralympic athletes, dominating in Breaststroke and Individual Medley (IM) events within his classification at major championships all over the world.

Overall, Sascha has won a total of six Paralympic, eight World and 11 European Championship Gold medals and has represented Great Britain in four Paralympic Games thus far. In addition, he currently holds a number of British, European, Paralympic and World records.

Sascha, who lives in Belmont, Hereford, was recently appointed as a sports ambassador for the Herefordshire and Worcester Olympic and Paralympic Ambassador Group.

Simon Hawkins (right) became the first firefighter in Europe to return to front line duty after losing part of his leg. Simon Hawkins

Simon, a firefighter with Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash in 2004, and had to have his lower left leg amputated.

He thought he would never walk again, but just five months after his accident, he returned to work in a non operational role.

Simon’s colleagues were staggered by his determination, as he went onto become the first firefighter in the UK and Europe to return to full operational duties with a prosthetic leg.

Both men were speakers at the University of Worcester’s Annual Diversity and Equality Conference, which was supported by Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service.

Sascha said: “When I was younger the local swimming club wouldn’t accept me because of my disability. But with the help of my family we got past that and at the age of 13 I made it into the Great Britain squad.

“Conferences like this are really important to show people that a disability should not stop you from doing anything you want to do and that they are able to do the same things as everyone else.”

Simon, who received help and support with his rehabilitation from the University of Worcester’ Motion and Performance Centre, added: “The person I am now is a product of the people around me, being supportive and giving me hope. The Fire Service stayed in contact with me every week, and the after care I received was phenomenal.”

Professor David Green, University of Worcester Vice Chancellor, said the two men were an inspiration. “We were delighted that both Sascha and Simon were able to come and share their experiences with us,” he said. “They are both very inspiring people who have proved that you can do anything that you put your mind to.”