PUPILS at a Chepstow school were inspired this week by the visit of a Team GB Paralympic champion.

Andy Lewis, GB Paralympic Champion, visited St John’s on-the-Hill School on Wednesday (9th November) to talk about how he became the first person ever to win para-triathlon gold when the event made its debut at the Paralympic Games in Rio.

Lewis, from Lydney, competes as a through-knee amputee and is Paralympic, World and European Champion. Lewis gave demonstrations on how he uses his blade to run and had the children enthralled with details of the engineering behind prosthetic legs, while discussing the importance of diet and fitness and the mind-set needed to be a professional athlete.

During the whole school assembly, Lewis described how he lost his leg as a result of a motorbike accident with a 38 tonne lorry when he was just 16. At the time he was applying to be part of the Army Parachute Regiment. His dream of joining the regiment was never to be and he endured long, painful spells in hospital after the accident.

Lewis then made the difficult decision to have his leg amputated. Following the amputation he continued to suffer agonising pain and was left feeling depressed and resentful. Lewis had hit rock bottom, was unfit and began piling on the pounds.

He eventually got his life back on track after learning to fly an aeroplane and getting his pilot’s licence. The achievement inspired him. Then after having his first child, a daughter named Jazmin, he became even more determined to do something with his life.

Lewis said: “The birth of my daughter gave me a massive incentive to be a better person. I also wanted to keep up with her and be able to help her ride her bike and run with her. So I put together a boxing team to get fit and raised more than £10,000 to buy a blade so I could run.”

He told the children: “Believe in yourself, no matter what. You will have struggles in life but you can overcome them. Prove the doubters wrong. With perseverance, hard work and commitment, you can achieve anything. Work as a team and together you can achieve even more.”

Ruth Frett, Head of St John’s on-the-Hill, said: “Andy Lewis is such an inspiration - in addition to being a professional sportsman, he offers emotional support to children who have also lost limbs and is setting up teams for children to compete in triathlons. We are privileged to have him visit the school and to hear all about his amazing achievements. Our children were particularly thrilled to see and be able to touch his gold medal.”