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Katie Walsh on the equiciser 18 July 2019

Challenge Merseyside broadens horizons for local school groups at Aintree

The Challenge Merseyside event on July 17th gave 76 young people from seven local schools a day full of inspiring talks and physical activities, thanks to some of Aintree’s important local partners.

To start the day, former Marine Andy Grant gave a motivational speech from the winners’ enclosure, telling his story of overcoming adversity after being discharged from service aged 22. Andy suffered life-changing injuries but went on to become the world’s fastest single leg amputee over 10km by clocking a time of 37:17; he has also climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, to name a few of his achievements.

A key message from his speech was: “If your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough… I’m the person to show you that anything is possible.”

Hear more about Andy’s take on the day here:

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The group was then split into teams to visit Be Military Fit for a circuit training taster; Liverpool FC for team building and coordination skills; Merseyside Police to learn about consequences of actions; the Royal Marines to experience self-defence training and then to Sale Sharks, again for coordination and team building. What a day!

Sale Sharks putting the groups through their paces
Merseyside Police
An impactful and memorable talk from Merseyside Police

Former jockey Katie Walsh, Aintree’s Jessica Dalgliesh and Racing Together Community Engagement Manager, Lucy Saunders all hosted a session in the weighing room, to explain more about racing, Aintree racecourse and the Grand National. The idea was to inspire the young people and for them to learn about the wider opportunities available to them within horseracing.

During the lunch break, 2012 Grand National winner Neptune Collonges popped in to say hello, proving extremely popular with everyone.

Neptune Collonges
2012 Grand National winner Neptune Collonges making new friends

Izzie Rothery, a student from Hawthorne’s said:

“We’ve had a great day, it’s been full of learning new skills to use in life. My favourite thing about today was meeting Neptune Collonges, he was so sweet, and we had a race on the mechanical horse! The biggest thing I will take away from today is the self-defence tips in particular, and when Andy Grant was speaking, he said if you’re not scared, you’re not dreaming big enough.”

The group was tired out after a busy day, with Head Teacher Peter Gaul from King’s Leadership Academy Hawthornes commenting on the day:

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Olympic Gold medal-winning hockey player Sam Quek finished off the day’s activities by providing an insight into her own success story of determination and resilience.

Sam Quek and Katie Walsh
Sam Quek and Katie Walsh; two champions of the hockey field and racecourse respectively
Sam Quek speaking
The group listening to Sam’s story
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