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Holt welcomes gold-winning Paralympian Sophie Christiansen

10:33 01 July 2013

Triple gold medal-winning Paralympian Sophie Christian with north Norfolk RDA rider Lisette Rixon.

Triple gold medal-winning Paralympian Sophie Christian with north Norfolk RDA rider Lisette Rixon.

Archant

Triple gold medal-winning Paralympian Sophie Christiansen paid a visit to students and shoppers at Holt on Friday, to promote the work of the national charity Riding for the Disabled. The athlete, 26, was born prematurely with cerebal palsy and other problems including blood poisoning, jaundice and a collapsed lung.

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She won her first gold medal aged 16 at the 2004 Paralympics in the freestyle and championship dressage equestrian events and

went on to win three gold medals at the European Championships the following year. She bagged further gold medals in the 2008 Bejing and Lodon 2012 Paralympics.

Ms Christiansen’s first stop in Holt was Gresham’s Prep School, where, as speech day special guest, she handed out prizes to students for art, music and academic achievements and gained a standing ovation for a speech on her riding career.

She then went on to Budgens supermarket, where staff have nominated Riding for the Disabled (RDA) as charity of the year.

The store has already raised more than £3,000 for the charity, which, Ms Christiansen said, had inspired her to take up horse riding at the age of six.

“I still ride with Riding for the Disabled at a centre that specialises in Paralympic dressage and, although I originally rode for physiotherapy, when I found somewhere that specialised in a sport that I loved, I jumped at the chance,” she said.

Ms Christiansen, who was made OBE in 2009 and also has a Masters degree in maths, had a chance to meet riders from the north Norfolk branch of the charity, including Lisette Rixon of Kelling.

Ms Rixon, who has cerebal palsy, rides with RDA at Squirrelwood Equestrian Centre, Kelling, most weeks. Her sister Anneke said: “Lisette absolutely loves going, she enjoys spending time with the animals, but it is also a great way of meeting people and has obvious physical benefits as well.”

The north Norfolk branch of the charity provides regular riding sessions for adults and children from schools and residential homes at Sheringham, Cromer, Sidestrand, Thornage and Aylmerton, also running session for individuals from all over the area.

Thanking Ms Christiansen for taking the time to visit north Norfolk, RDA North Norfolk chairman Priscilla McDougal said:

“I think that Sophie is quite incredible, it is amazing what she has achieved and our riders are thrilled to meet her.”

The North Norfolk branch of Riding for the Disabled would be pleased to hear from anyone willing to give up a few hours a week to lead, sidewalk or help with administration. For more information, phone 0845 2416381.

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