A young boy from Andover who has serious heart problems has won a special award for his bravery, resilience and determination.
Eight-year-old Archie Cook was presented with a special Southern Water Achiever of the Year award by Olympic gold medal winner, Duncan Goodhew.
In his young life, Archie has already had two separate open-heart surgeries – one when he was born, the other last year – because of congenital heart disease.
He has three holes in his heart, problems with his arteries and was fitted with an emergency pacemaker last year; a development that has changed life and stopped him doing many of the sports that he loved.
But Archie hasn’t let it knock him down. He has taken it all in his stride – and has come out swimming, and still smiling.
His mum, Tonia said: “After his last surgery Archie’s suffered heart block, which meant he no longer had a natural heartbeat, and had to have an emergency pace maker fitted.”
“But this means he’s now not allowed to play contact sports, which is a shame as he loves football. So we encouraged him to do swimming lessons, as he loved the water.”
“Claire, his swimming teacher, has encouraged him all the way and built up his confidence. He loves his lessons. It’s a joy to see him enjoying it so much.”
Archie’s swimming teacher at Andover Leisure Centre, Claire Hewlett said: “Archie has had many physical and emotional challenges to overcome during our time together. But, despite these challenges, Archie is an inspiration to us all and his happiness, determination and, overall, being a lovely young man, makes me feel privileged to have the opportunity to teach him.”
To find out more about swimming lessons at the leisure centre see the Valley Leisure web site at www.valleyleisure.co.uk