Jacob - our Paralympic hero
In this Olympic year athletes from all over the world will be converging on the UK hoping to realise their dream of a lifetime by standing on the winner’s rostrum and receiving recognition for years of hard work and dedication.
One of those athletes will be seventeen year old Jacob Thomas from Narberth who has been chosen to be a member of Team GB for the Paralympic sport of Boccia which has been part of his life since he was quite young. He is now ranked at 21 in the world and was both Welsh and British champion in 2010.
Boccia was first included in the Paralympian Games in 1984 and is played by wheelchair athletes with cerebral palsy, duchenne muscular dystrophy and related locomotor conditions, with players required to be in a seated position within a throwing box at one end of the playing court. It is a little like the French game of boules where players throw leather balls to land as close as possible to a target ball or “jack”.
Jacob has DMD and he and his family were referred to TŷHafan in September 2006. Although the family were coping really well his mum Caroline remembers feeling reassured that there was an organisation like TŷHafan she could call upon when life began to get more difficult, which she knew would happen as Jacob’s condition deteriorated.
“We were referred to Tŷ Hafan by some good friends of ours who also had a son about the same age as Jacob, albeit with a different condition. It was great to know that we could go and stay at Tŷ Hafan when we needed to but at the time we felt that we were coping.
“It was great though to get a phone call every so often to make sure everything was OK – just to know that support was there was invaluable”
Unfortunately last year Jacob suddenly became very ill with liver failure and had to be airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for emergency treatment. Hayley Mason from Tŷ Hafan’s family support team was in constant contact with Caroline who, along with dad Mike, took it in turns to stay at Jacob’s bedside.
The strain inevitably began to take its toll and the couple were becoming exhausted with their anxiety about Jacob and being so far from home and Jacob’s twelve year old sister Polly.
Hayley travelled up to Birmingham to visit Jacob and the family to give them emotional support and help with any practical problems.
Eventually Jacob began to improve and he was finally moved back to Wales to continue his treatment at Morriston Hospital and life for the Thomas family began to get a little easier. Eventually Jacob was well enough to resume his favourite sport and pastime and the rest is history………………
Congratulations from everyone at Tŷ Hafan Jacob and we wish you every success.