Hannah Cockroft: 'Duke of Edinburgh scheme changed my life'

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Yorkshire Paralympic Champion Hannah Cockroft has told ITV News that the Duke of Edinburgh changed her life through his award scheme.

Before taking part in the scheme Hannah, who has won five Paralympic gold medals and 11 World Championship gold medals, had never played sport.

She is now renowned for her wheelchair sprinting and holds world records in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m distances for the T34 classification.

  • Hannah speaking to ITV News

Hannah said that she hated her wheelchair before doing her Bronze Award aged 14, but that the challenge taught her how to use her chair in a way she wouldn't have done otherwise.

She said: "I learnt things that I don't think people learn in everyday life and I think as a disabled person you can be held back from those life lessons.

"So doing my Duke of Edinburgh was life-changing."

She said that the award taught her how to work as part of a team and to "ask for help" when she needed it, as the expedition took her away from her parental support network.

She said that those two skills have been vital in her career as an athlete.

Hannah has won multiple gold medals for Great Britain. Credit: PA

"I met the Duke on several occasions and he was a very amusing man," she said.

"On one time of meeting him, obviously I was in my wheelchair so he had to stand over me and speak down to me, and he said 'I don't like having to do this, why don't we design a new wheelchair where you can come up to my level and we speak face to face.'

"Everyone was on his level and he was really interested in everybody's stories, in everything that everyone had done."

She said that no one had treated her in the way the Duke did and that no one has done since.

"I think my lasting memory of the Duke of Edinburgh will just be that he was genuinely a great guy and he was so invested in the youth of our country.

"Hopefully the legacy of the award will carry on now and people will forever remember him for what he left behind for young people to continue developing and getting the skills they need in life."