Paralympian swimmer Becky Redfern declined the chance to celebrate her sporting success at Buckingham Palace to attend Graduation 2022.
For the Primary Initial Teacher Education student, who took home a silver medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke SB13 at the Tokyo Games and recently competed in the Commonwealth Games, this was something she was determined not to miss. On her Graduation day, Becky said: “I am so excited and proud to be graduating. I have even declined an invitation on the same day to celebrate Team England’s success with the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace as my graduation means so much to me and my family.”
Her road to graduation has not been straightforward. Becky, who has a visual impairment, gave birth to a son, Patrick, in July 2020, and had accepted that she would not be competing in Tokyo. But, with Covid-19 postponing the Games by a year, she took up the challenge to be on the starting block. With swimming pools closed, Becky swam in a hot tub in the garden and did gym sessions in a shed, balancing this with lectures and being a new mum. But she came away with her second silver.
Now a patron for local charity Sight Concern, Becky said her success had provided many opportunities. “I have been very fortunate to meet and inspire thousands of children across Worcestershire by sharing my story, listening to their achievements and encouraging belief in themselves,” she said. “Most recently I was honoured to be the Sporting Champion at both the Herefordshire and Worcestershire School Games. I was very proud to be selected to carry the baton across the River Severn as part of the Queen’s Baton Relay in readiness for the Commonwealth Games.”
Since finishing her degree, the 22-year-old, of Droitwich, spent the last two terms teaching in a local school and has stayed there as a supply teacher for this year. “My main focus for the next two years is on Paris 2024 and, hopefully, coming away with some more bling!” she said. “Everything I have achieved would not have been possible without the support of everyone around me, especially my family.”
The former Droitwich Spa High School pupil said the location, course and level of support at Worcester made it perfect for her to continue elite training. “Starting my time at Worcester was very daunting, especially with my visual impairment,” she said. “However, the first few weeks were made a lot easier with the guidance from older students in terms of finding our way around and the additional support from the Disability and Dyslexia Services. Despite packing a lot into my four years at Worcester – two World Championships, Covid, having a baby, winning silver at the Tokyo Paralympics – I thoroughly enjoyed my time at uni and am very grateful for all of the support and flexibility that the University gave me with time away training and competing.”
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