Hopes raised for young powerlifter.

The Powerlifter Daniel McGauley, 25, who has Down’s syndrome and autism and is also deaf in one ear, has overcome all the odds to become a top achiever in his sport.

He is all set to go to Canada in November to represent Great Britain in the Paralympic weightlifting event at the Commonwealth Games, thanks to a grant totalling £1,500 given by the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

Daniel, the youngest of four children, who lives with his parents in Colchester, was given only a year to live when he was born, but proved to be a determined survivor.

He went to Doucecroft School in Kelvedon for autistic children and now attends Penny Meadow in Colchester, a centre for adults with special needs.

He is the first ever weightlifter with special needs to represent Great Britain at the Commonwealth Games and the support he has been given by ECF, through the The Essex and Southend Sports Charitable Fund and the Annabel and Gerald Malton Charitable  Fund, has been of vital help to him and his family.

His mother Judith said: “We are so proud of Daniel who really has exceeded everyone’s expectations.  The grant given by ECF has made all the difference to him and to us. His Dad and I would otherwise have had to go into debt to meet the cost of the trip, as we only have our pensions.

“Becoming a weightlifter has opened up a new world far Daniel. He has worked so hard and is training every day for the Games. It has been difficult for him, because of the concentration needed in competitions, but he is determined to do well and just loves the applause on the platform.

“We never thought he would be able to achieve so much, as he was only given a year to live when he was born and we were told he would never make a valuable contribution in society.

“We had to fight for him to have surgery. He has been through three major heart operations and 29 operations on his ears and was in a wheelchair until he was eight.

“Mentally, he is at the level of a five-year-old and one of his favourite things is Thomas the Tank Engine. Although he still needs a lot of support and can’t live independently, weightlifting has enabled him to become part of the adult world.”

Daniel became interested in powerlifting when he started going to the gym to improve his fitness. He went from strength to strength and takes part in all three powerlifting disciplines, squat, bench press and deadlift, despite the neck problems Downs often brings.  He started to excel in the sport, winning competitions and medals in events throughout the UK.

Daniel will be travelling to Canada with his coach Tiffany Crocker and his mother will go as his carer to help with his medical needs.

The grant from ECF through The Essex and Southend Sports Charitable Fund and the Annabel and Gerald Malton Charitable Fund will go a long way towards the overall cost of the trip.

The Essex and Southend Sports Charitable Fund was launched in 2013 by businessman and entrepreneur Peter Butler and his lifelong friend, Joe Sims.

Peter and Joe already had the impressive track record of running EASST, the Essex and Southend Sports Trust, which was set up in 2002.  They teamed up with ECF to establish the new Fund, with the aim of distributing more grants to individuals and voluntary organisations to make sport flourish at grassroots level around the county and make it more accessible to everyone.

Peter said: “It is great that the first-ever special needs weightlifter from GB to enter these championships is from Essex and that we have been able to support him.”

Joe said: “What a fantastic person Daniel is and we are delighted to support special needs individuals whenever possible.

We have supported deaf footballers, blind sailors and other people with special needs, but Daniel will be our first weightlifter.”

Annabel and Gerald Malton, who live in Little Waltham, decided to set up their named fund with ECF with the specific aim of helping young people who are unable to fulfil their dreams due to a shortage of money. They have supported many young sportsmen and women and are looking forward to following Daniel’s progress.

For more information about Essex Community Foundation visit www.essexcommunityfoundation.org.uk or call 01245 355947.

To make a donation please send a cheque made payable to Essex Community Foundation, to 121  New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0QT, stating it is for the Essex Sports Fund.