By Luke Bennison
After securing silver and bronze medals at the World Special Needs Judo tournament last year, Sarah Avery was able to go a step further this year, and bring home World gold and European gold.
Sarah has recently arrived home from Beverwijk Amsterdam, where the World Special Needs judo tournament took place.
Although based in Eastbourne, Sarah (right) makes the journey to Battle on a weekly basis, illustrating just how committed she has been.
As well as Sarah’s unquestionable hard work, the support and encouragement she has received from volunteers at the club Westerleigh Judokwai cannot go unmentioned.
Westerleigh Judokwai are a Mainstream and Special Needs judo club which was founded in 1995 by brothers, Paul and Chris Everest.
Since being founded, the club has grown in numbers impressively, to having more than 100 members ranging from five years-old and above. Westerleigh Judokwai have gone from strength to strength, producing Area Squad members, European and World SN Champions.
They also won the BJA Club of the Year in 2012, as well as securing the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2015; the only club to do so within the BJA to date.
Sarah’s foster carers Susanne and Paul Beesley have praised the club, saying how influential it has been in raising Sarah’s self-esteem, which has allowed her to form relationships that she may not have made without this support.
Most importantly, the club breaks down barriers and ensures people are based on their ability, not their disability.