Dalkeith teen scoops awards for work with disabled in sport

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A RISING star of the Capital’s badminton scene has been recognised for his efforts to get more young people with disabilities taking part in sport.

Dalkeith teenager Ross Foley, 17, is now the proud owner of a Diana Award after becoming an “inspiration” to both able-bodied and disabled people in his community.

Born with growth disorder achondroplasia, Ross is a dedicated member of Lothian Disability Badminton Club and spends his spare time offering free tutoring to disabled youngsters.

Ross told the News he was “speechless” when he found out he would receive the award, which he was presented with by Olympic rowing medallist Katherine Grainger.

He said: “I was really pleased because even if I didn’t get the award I still got nominated for it.

“It’s me showing others my past, where I come from and what I have achieved and to show others no matter who you are, nothing is impossible.

“Everyone is human – you might have different sizes or abilities but everyone can achieve the same thing.”

Ross also sits on the Lothian Disability Forum and Young Person’s Sports Panel as part of his efforts to encourage young people of all abilities to persevere with their chosen sport.

And the future is looking bright as Ross has already been asked to represent Scotland at four championships and hopes to do the same at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

His sister Emma Foley, development officer at Lothian Disability Badminton Club, called her brother an “inspiration”.

She said: “Ross works extremely hard to create a positive difference to people’s lives, he is always helping, encouraging and supporting his club mates, friends and family.

“He is an inspiration and believes that people can achieve their dreams with no barriers.

“No matter what your circumstances are Ross believes in you.”

This view was echoed by fellow club member Michael McCraw, who said: “Ross is caring and really friendly and always encourages me to do my best.

“Even when I sometimes can’t cope, he always comes and talks to me, and takes time to listen – he is a good listener. Everyone loves Ross at the club, he always tries his best and gets on great with everybody.”

A total of 22 Diana Awards were dished out to Scottish citizens this year as part of the “Inspire” series, which travels up and down the UK to celebrate young people’s achievements.

Diana Award chief executive Tessy Ojo paid tribute to all the winners.

She said: “Underpinning all the work we do is the Power of Peer. We use this to change attitudes and behaviour to ensure young people get the support they need to get on in life and mobilise them to be a force for good in society.”