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Generous EDP readers help teenager live his swimming dream

Deaf swimmer, Oliver Kenny, 17. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Deaf swimmer, Oliver Kenny, 17. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Generous EDP readers donated more than £4,000 to allow a Norfolk teenager to live his dream and compete at the deaf swimming world championships in the US.

As reported, Oliver Kenny’s hopes were in danger of being dashed - because he is not eligible for funding.

The 17-year-old was selected for the deaf world championships in San Antonio, Texas, in August.

But he could have been forced to stay at home because UK Sport’s funding excludes elite deaf sports - focusing instead on the Olympics and Paralympics.

His family and West Norfolk Deaf Association were in a race against time to raise the £3,000 needed for the trip, competition and kit, and issued an appeal for help through the EDP.

Oliver’s mother Amanda Kenny said: “Purely as a result of your feature in the EDP, we have raised an incredible £4,365 which covers all of the expenses associated with the trip to San Antonio plus the cost of the GB kit, racing trunks (at around £160 per pair) and goggles. It will also fund the deaf swim camp in July at Crystal Palace, which Oliver is going to.

“We have been bowled over by the generosity of the EDP readers and are so grateful for your support.”

Donations included £1,500 from Michael Tuffen of Stratstan Ltd, Rackheath, £1065 raised on the WNDA BT Mydonate event page, £249.60 raised at a coffee morning organised by the Downham Market Academy, £300 from the Norwich City Community Sports Foundation, Sporting Light Appeal, £100 donated in cash by an unknown woman at the EDP Norwich office and £200 from Easton College, where the teenager studies, among others.

Mrs Kenny, who lives with husband Nigel, an engineer, in Watlington, near King’s Lynn, added: “As a family we are shocked and humbled by the public response to this appeal.

“Oliver also received lots of letter of support, encouragement and good wishes, many from people who have a hearing loss themselves or who have a relative with a hearing loss.”

Mrs Kenny, who is also manager of the WNDA, said the family had supported the teenager as well as it could over the years, and had paid for him to compete in Russia last year.

She said competing in the US would mean the world to her son, who is profoundly deaf and uses sign language.

“He’s climbing in the world rankings,” she said, “and he’s hoping eventually to get on the podium at the deaf Olympics in Turkey in 2017. The aim is for him to medal in an international deaf competition”.

The former Downham Market high school pupil started competitive swimming when he was nine. He was encouraged to start swimming to build his confidence.

He swims for UEA City of Norwich and is a weekly boarder at Easton College, near Norwich.

He trains in the pool for 20 hours a week and also does land-based training for around three hours a week.

He holds a number of British age group records for deaf swimmers and has represented GB at three international events.

The teenager said: “Wow. I just cannot believe how many people got in touch and how much money was donated. And thanks for all the nice comments and letters of good luck.”

Are you fundraising to help someone fulfil their dream? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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