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Basketballer scores with students in healthy living week

YOUNG sportsmen have new-found bounce in their steps after being inspired by one of the country’s top basketball players.

GB and Leicester Rider forward Drew Sullivan spent the day coaching students from Bede Academy, Blyth.

The 33-year-old Londoner, who now lives in South Beach, Blyth, spent time in the classroom and on the court offering students an insight into the professional game.

The session was part of a Delivering Sports programme run by Sky Sports, which is designed to find and inspire the next generation of top athletes, and came as the academy launched its annual Healthy Living Week.

Drew, who moved to the North East to play for Newcastle Eagles, told students how a horrific childhood accident, which left him with torn hamstrings and a dislocated hip, had steered him towards the game.

“I was 13, I was tall and fast and good at track and field – I could have been Usain Bolt,” he said.

“But then something went during a training session. It was the most horrific thing I had ever experienced but it also turned out to be the best thing that ever happened.”

He said the injuries recovered physically in about four months but left a seed of doubt in his mind about continuing in athletics. Because of his 6ft 8in frame he decided to look at basketball.

After studying at a university in America, Drew has played basketball in Spain, Russian, Belgium and Cyprus as well as travelling the world playing for Team GB.

“I have had such a great time thanks to sport and now want to share my experiences and show the children the potential of being a professional athlete,” he said.

“Sport paid for my education and has allowed me to represent my country and travel the world. I have played basketball for 21 years and I feel I have a responsibility to pass my knowledge on.”

Sports teacher at Bede Academy Andrew Sutherland added:

“The students have been completely inspired by Drew and are amazed by the opportunities that professional sport can offer.

“The fact that a top athlete now lives just around the corner shows just how accessible succeeding at the highest level can be if you want it badly enough.”

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Shoeboxes on their way

Families in Blyth have got into the Christmas spirit early by donating to an annual appeal for needy children.

Students at Bede Academy helped to load 180 boxes filled with gifts for boys and girls onto a van to be sent to Eastern Europe and Africa as part of Samaritan’s Purse annual Operation Christmas Child appeal.

Blythswood Care is coordinating the appeal in the town and has been collecting from various donation points.

Teacher Vicki Alsop, who organises the appeal at Bede each year, said:

“Our students and their families, and staff, have been very generous once again to ensure that children in other parts of the world experience a wonderful Christmas.

“Each morning since we launched this year’s appeal my Year 9 tutor group has been checking the boxes as they’ve come in, which they’ve really enjoyed.

“The appeal is a lovely way of reminding us all of the true meaning of Christmas. It’s great for our students to know that the toys, stationery and toiletries they’ve donated will soon bring a smile to a child in another country.”

Since the appeal started in 1990, more than 100 million boys and girls in over 130 countries have received a shoebox of gifts.

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Students hand over money from sell-out poppy appeal

Students in Blyth have handed over hundreds of pounds to the Royal British Legion after their Poppy Appeal was a complete sell-out.

In the lead up to Remembrance Day, students supported the appeal by selling more than 800 poppies within the academy.

The importance of Remembrance Day was explained to students in their history lessons.

On November 11, the whole academy stood in silence for two minutes, led by Principal Gwyneth Evans, in recognition of the sacrifices made by those in the Armed Forces across many generations.

Vice Principal Steve Nelson explained:

“The academy’s history ambassadors carried out tremendous work leading up to Remembrance Day selling poppies around the academy; in fact, they virtually sold them all on the first day so we had to order more.

“Our history department also set aside time in each of their lessons to talk about what the Poppy Appeal means today so that everyone understood the purpose of Remembrance Day.”