New challenge for student

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A visually-impaired student from Henshaws Specialist College in Harrogate is gearing up for a new challenge.

Tom Oates, 19, of Bishop Monkton, is no stranger to achieving his goals, despite having a number of disabilities due to having Bardet Biedl Syndrome, a genetic disorder which can affect sight as well as presenting other physical difficulties such as kidney problems and obesity.

Now he has set himself the challenge of completing the Melmerby 10k on Sunday May 29 in a bid to raise funds for a MOTOmed movement trainer for the college’s gym to help other students improve their mobility. His career goals include working in care, or supporting visitors in a heritage setting.

Tom, who is almost blind, regularly takes part in 5k park runs at Fountains Abbey with his mum, Emma, who recently completed the London Marathon, but wanted to step up his distance and improve his time.

He will run independently but with Emma as a guide to advise him on the footing and any obstacles.

Tom, who joined Henshaws after leaving St Aidan’s School in Harrogate, is also training in the College gym at lunchtimes with the help of Sports Instructor Vicky Little.

Emma said: “Tom’s focus is always on other people. He never thinks about his own problems, he wants to help others to reach their potential which is why he decided to raise money for the movement trainer. He wants to give something back and this is why he has taken on the run.”

The movement trainer is designed to help a range of people affected by disability who struggle to access exercise through more traditional options. As they become enabled, this clever equipment “intelligently” reduces its motorised involvement.

Tom attends Henshaws Specialist College two days a week and previous achievements include a coast-to-coast tandem ride with Emma.