Pride of Britain: The man born without fully formed arms and legs making sport inclusive for all

John Willis has been shortlisted for ITV Anglia's Regional Fundraiser of the Year Pride of Britain Award, as Sophie Wiggins reports.

A man born without fully formed arms and legs has been nominated for a Pride of Britain award after taking on his biggest sporting challenge yet.

John Willis, who is from Comberton in Cambridgeshire, spent eight days this summer kayaking 108 miles down the River Thames.

The 62-year-old raised over £10,000 for his charity, Power2Inspire, which he founded in 2013.

The charity's mission is to show that sport can be for everybody, no matter their gender, faith, age, ethnicity or disability.

Mr Willis has been shortlisted for ITV Anglia's 2023 Regional Fundraiser of the Year Pride of Britain award.

John Willis was born without fully formed arms and legs. Credit: Power2Inspire

He told ITV News Anglia that growing up, he was often excluded, which inspired him to change that for other children.

Mr Willis said: "I was often left out, left not playing sport, because people didn't know how to include me, didn't know that you could adapt games. So one of my abiding ideas is to make sure that no one is left on the bench."

"I was brought up by my mother to believe that there was no such word as "can't", and I've actually changed that mantra. So I say "I can't do it.....yet", and that's how I live my life."

He has now raised over £100,000 in total for the charity.

His 2016 Road2Rio challenge was a huge part of that, during which he tried every Olympic and Paralympic sport.

Since then, the money raised has been used to host the charity's own Powerhouse Games, sport festivals and to travel to schools across the country with inclusive sport days.

Alex Laybourne, chief executive of Power2Inspire, said: "What John does is bring people together and show them that everything is accessible or adaptable, so that they can do those things together, they can enjoy it and they can have fun."

As well as kayaking, Mr Willis also enjoys tennis, golf, horse riding, and many other sports. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Mr Laybourne described Mr Willis's work as "truly life-changing" for hundreds, if not thousands, of people "who otherwise may not have every seen the benefits of trying a sport".

Mr Willis said the news of his nomination was "awesome", and that "the recognition that what we're doing, what Power2Inspire is all about, about having fun and no one being left on the bench, is just magnificent".

"It's an endorsement for the charity and that's why I get out of bed in the morning," he added.

John completed a triathlon with two able-bodied friends in 2013, which led to the creation of Power2Inspire Credit: Power2Inspire

Mr Willis said he hoped the charity's legacy continued long after him, and that its reach could eventually become international.

The Power2Inspire 108 fundraising challenge is still going on and open to anyone to join - whether that be by baking 108 cakes, cycling 108 km or reading 108 pages of a book.

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