Nathan is 15. He has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair racer who’s been selected for Team England!
Nathan has been a Champion since he was 11, when he applied to us for a racing wheelchair. His awards since have allowed him to compete both Nationally and Internationally for England at the Cerebral Palsy World Games 2018 in Barcelona.
Nathan says: “Being able to compete at such a high level has driven me to train hard and as a result I have become much fitter and been able to come off lots of medication. I have also become healthier as a result and so my attendance at school has improved. My award has really helped the whole family. Wheelchair racing is a really expensive sport and Mum used to have to work a lot of overtime to pay for the costs. She hasn’t had to do so much due to the award.”
Nathan’s mum Kim says:
“From my perspective, wheelchair racing has really helped Nathan to accept his disability and increase his confidence. He’s worked really hard over the last 18 months, training twice a week whatever the weather, but needs a custom made chair in order to progress. We really couldn’t believe we’d been successful with the award and will be eternally grateful to the Starr Trust for giving Nathan this opportunity to follow his dreams!”
Check out Nathan’s website here.
Update May 2019
Nathan, along with other Champions and their families, enjoyed hearing from guest speaker Mick Dawson at the Champions Chat in April, held at Hilton Brighton Metropole.
Ex Marine Mick’s chat was about fear, and how it can be a misunderstood friend. He told how he overcame fears that presented themselves along his two attempts at rowing the North Pacific; from Japan to San Francisco, solo. The first attempt in 2003 ended when his rudder was torn off, in severe weather, and he had to return to Japan. The second in 2004 was halted by a freak capsize that sank his boat after 109 days at sea and having rowed over 4,500 miles, two thirds of the way across the route.
Undeterred Mick built a new boat, ‘Bojangles’, specifically for the North Pacific. He invited friend and fellow ocean rower Chris Martin onto the project and the two of them went on to become the first ever crew to row successfully from Japan (Choshi) to The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. They completed the epic 7,000 mile voyage in an incredible 189 days 10 hours and 55 minutes.
We heard how Mick overcame encounters with killer whales, who ‘adopted’ him along his journey - something he explained he never thought he would experience. His brush with unidentified ‘sea serpents’ in the middle of the night surrounding his boat, just 18 inches above the water, with red eyes staring at him, hissing and swirling around the boat mesmerised us. From losing his radio signal and having no communication to being under the boughs of large ships, Mick told how fear is just telling you you have a problem to deal with. He told how he’d prepared well, and all the things that got him through situations were those he had planned in advance.
You can read Mick’s story here.
Mick’s adventures have been turned into a book ‘Rowing the Pacific’ which can be purchased on Amazon.
At the end of the session, our Champions shared with Mick their Champion stories.
Thank you to Mick (in checked shirt), and Hilton Brighton Metropole!
Update February 2019
Now 15, Nathan’s award will cover costs towards training camps, junior championships, travel, entry fees and classification clinic.
Update November 2018
Here’s what Nathan’s mum Kim had to say about Nathan’s Starr Trust Award:
Nathan’s first award from the Starr Trust was the purchase of his first ‘custom made’ racing wheelchair which allowed him to start to reach his potential. This in turn increased his determination to succeed and train which resulted in greater fitness levels. As Nathan became stronger and fitter he became healthier and has since stopped all his Asthma medications and his attendance at school has improved. The financial support provided by the Starr Trust has allowed Nathan to fully compete Nationally and more recently Internationally for England. Without this support Nathan would not have been able to have participated in as many events and I would have had to work additional hours at weekends in order to fund his trip to Spain to take part in the World CP Games, where he represented England. This in turn would have meant I wouldn’t have been able to take him to events. We will always be eternally grateful for all that The Starr Trust has done for Nathan.
Update July 2018
Nathan has been chosen to be part of Team CP England in the forthcoming CPISRA World Games 2018.
The Cerebral Palsy International Sport & Recreation Association (CPISRA) World Games will take place in San Cugat in Spain 6th to 12th August 2018.
Cerebral Palsy Sport announced they will be coordinating Team CP England to attend the games to emulate the success of the Nottingham 2015 CPISRA World Games.
HUGE congrats to Nathan! What an amazing achievement!
See the full list of Athletes here.
Update January 2018
Nathan has been chosen to compete in the World Games 2018 for which we are funding him, as well as the National Championships.
Nathan’s coach says: “The light from his (Nathan’s) torch shines brightly and those caught in its beam are enriched by it”
Update November 2017
We are so excited and proud to announce that Nathan has been selected for Team England for the 2018 CPISRA World Games in Spain! He’s worked so hard and truly deserves this opportunity! Huge congratulations to Nathan and his family from all of us at the Starr Trust.
Update Autumn 2017
Nathan continues to get media attention for his incredible Diana Award for services to wheelchair racing. Check out the story in Brighton & Hove Independent here.
Update September 2017
Our young Champion Nathan recently won a prestigious Diana Award for his services to wheelchair racing, and popped into the BBC Monday afternoon to appear live on the Allison Ferns show. He talked about his love of wheelchair racing, his fastest times, getting a bronze medal in London’s mini marathon and racing downhill in his chair at 25 miles an hour!
Listen to this amazing young man who has already achieved so much at just 14 years old:
Photo (L-R): Nicole Carman, Starr Trust PR Manager; Nathan Freeman, Starr Trust Champion; Kim Freeman, Nathan’s mother; and Allison Ferns from the BBC.
Update August 2017
Nathan recently received a Diana Award for his services to wheelchair racing. The Diana Award was set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better. Nathan was one of 750 young people in the UK and around the world to receive one. The award is committed to fostering, inspiring and developing positive change in the lives of young people through practical social action. Today The Diana Award has the support of both her sons The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
All the award winners – who come from every region in the UK and USA, Canada, UAE, India, Belize, Australia, Greece, Indonesia, Croatia, Jersey, New Zealand, and Liberia – have had a monumental impact on society and lives of those in their communities. Many of them only know Princess Diana as a historical figure but they carry the honour of the Diana Award with pride and admiration for whose memory it was set up in.
Well done Nathan – we are really proud of you!
See Nathan in our latest video:
Update May 2017
Nathan is doing really well this season so far. His biggest achievement has been to compete in his first London Mini Marathon where he came 3rd, completing the 3 mile course in 20:23 - his first British Athletics medal!
Update January 2017
One of our champion’s mums, Claire Clements, is friends with the amazing Paralympic athlete Baroness ‘Tanni’ Grey-Thompson and kindly arranged for Nathan to meet with her.
Tanni Grey-Thompson, born with spina bifida, is one of Britain’s greatest Paralympic athletes and has amassed a remarkable medal haul over 16 years and five Paralympic Games of 11 gold medals, 4 silver and a bronze and continues to be involved in sport and physical activity as Board Member of the London Marathon, the Sportsaid Foundation, Transport for London, and many more and won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Last month 14 year old Nathan met up with life peer Tanni who gave him some inspirational training on his wheelchair racing. Tanni told us “It’s lovely to meet a young man who has so much drive and enthusiasm for the sport, and so willing to listen to advice. He obviously spends a lot of time watching wheelchair racing on the internet which is a great way to learn about who is in the sport and how they compete. I really hope that he continues to enjoy the sport and I can’t wait to see him compete this season”.
Nathan’s mum Kim, who has totally supported and encouraged Nathan to wheelchair race, is really excited by this new friendship. She told us “We’re really grateful to Claire, Hannah and The Starr Trust for making the meeting happen. Nath learnt so much from Tanni and her husband Ian, not just about the technical elements of wheelchair racing, but also practical tips and encouragement. We were really grateful for the amount of time Tanni & Ian spent with us and Nath left feeling really inspired to train harder and work on the elements they had advised”.
Update April 2016
Nathan didn’t have a great winter in terms of his health, so his winter training didn’t go to plan and he was unable to take part in the London wheelchair mini marathon, which he was really disappointed about.
However, the track season has started well, and in his first event of the season he has qualified to compete at the National Junior championships in 2 events and is hoping to qualify for a third event in the coming weeks!
Update July 2015
Nathan picked up his racing wheelchair from Draft yesterday, and can’t wait to get to using it on the track.
He’s got his next event at Stoke Mandeville Athletics Stadium on 8th August and is planning to train hard between now and then to get some good times - he’s entered for the 100m, 200m and 400m.
Good luck Nathan!
Update June 2015
Nathan is looking forward to receiving the chair, which is being made for him, and in the meantime has continued to compete at a couple of events a month including the National Junior Championships at the end of June.
So far this season Nathan’s beaten his personal best for the 100m & 200m and has achieved a season’s best in the 200m!
Update May 2015
Nathan competed in a 100m wheelchair race at the K2, Crawley on 28th April and knocked seconds off his season best and was just 1.1 seconds off a qualifying time for the Nationals!
He was at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium on 4th May for the BWRA event, where he took part in the 100m & 200m. The weather conditions were really bad and although he missed out on qualifying times again, he gained some useful experience of competing in wet conditions and picked up some tips from some great athletes.
A great day had by all, and he’s back there this coming weekend for more racing - here’s hoping the weather is kinder to everyone! Nathan’s counting the days until his new racing wheelchair arrives.