PARALYMPICS chief Sir Philip Craven was back in his home town to take centre stage for a special opening ceremony to celebrate and inspire the next generation.
Sir Philip, the President of the International Paralympic Committee — fresh from his trip to Rio as Brazil prepares to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games — was at Bolton St Catherine’s Academy to formally open its multi-million new school.
The £36 million campus has been opened since summer 2012 — but the officially opening was conducted yesterday.
Sir Philip enjoyed performances from pupils from both Firwood, which is a special school, and St Catherine’s as part of the ceremony.
The former Bolton School pupil praised the “great staff and students inside” and the building and facilities.
He added: “You might become a better person learning French or a few German words or a bit of physics but really you become a better person by interacting with human beings.”
Sir Philip spoke to young people of the importance of self-esteem and self-determination and he added: “You maximise what works and you don’t worry about what doesn’t.
“We’ve got four values — inspiration, determintion, you’ve got to be determined to achieve whatever you want to achieve.
“Courage, athletes do not think of themselves as courageous but everyone else does, and equality.”
Headteacher, Lee Harris said: “We have been in the building for 18 months but not everything had been completed, such as the all weather pitches, and we wanted to show how the pupils had settled in the building.
“Inviting Sir Philip to conduct the opening ceremony was about raising aspiration, and this is what this new development is about.”
Head of Firwood School Karen Walker added: “It was a huge honour having Sir Philip open the school. The opening ceremony showed there are two schools and one learning community.”
Head boy Ryan Perry, aged 16, said: “It was very memorable occasion and to have Sir Philip see the facilities and the great environment we have.
“He gave a motivational speech.”