An inspirational British teenager is set to appear on the small screen, where he will star with his teammates from his wheelchair basketball team in a new nationwide television advert. Liam Readle, 15, suffers from cerebral palsy. He plays for Tees Valley Titans, a wheelchair sports club which trains at Outwood Academy, Acklam, UK. The Titans are due to appear in a TV advert in March of this year for the Co-operative Group, a UK consumer co-operative organisation with a diverse range of retail businesses.
Liam became involved in wheelchair basketball four years ago when he started playing at his high school, St Michael’s Catholic Academy, in Billingham. He has now been hand-picked to appear in the advert on account of his enthusiasm and determination. Liam’s mother, Debbie, says that since he has been at his current school, his confidence has grown, especially since he got into basketball. It all started the day Lee Fawcett, a former Paralympian turned wheelchair-basketball tutor, visited Liam’s school and inspired him to join the Titans team. It changed Liam’s life, and he has never looked back since.
Now Liam’s goal (pun intended) is to be a part of the 2020 Paralympic Games, even though Team GB has not featured a player with his condition before. He has been inspired, it appears, by his wheelchair basketball team manager.
The Tees Valley Titans’ team manager, Lee Fawcett, 40, has been in a wheelchair for 25 years and has represented the UK in the Paralympian wheelchair basketball and fencing. He says, “I remember when I visited Liam’s school for the first time. On the first day he was incredibly shy, but now he has come out of his shell and achieved so much in around three and a half years. And now, we are due to be a part of an ad on national TV. It’s wonderful for us, and good for the sport” (Quoted in Gazette Live, Teesside News, 17 October 2016).
The Co-operative Group of businesses (Co-op), who are sponsoring the advert in question, support various ethical causes, including local businesses, environmental charities, etc. Co-op members can choose which causes they would like to support online. A campaign has been started to raise money over a six-month period.
President of the Co-op membership council Nick Crofts says, “Co-ops exist to support their members and the communities they are a part of. The funds raised will provide much-needed help for those organisations who are contributing to helping improve local life .” (Quoted in Gazette Live, Teesside News, 17 October 2016).
Picture courtesy of www.gazettelive.co.uk