To celebrate Disability Pride Month so we thought we’d share the story of two incredible students at the Derwen College Premier Inn training facility. They’ve just returned after successfully competing in a national swimming event, and we couldn’t be prouder of their achievements both in Hotel 751 and in the pool!
These incredible Derwen College students made a real splash at the 2023 Virtus Global Games
Best friends Helen Thompson and Lizzie Allen are Hospitality and Food students at the specialist further education in Shropshire, as well as being talented swimmers.
They both enjoy weekly work placements at Derwen College’s Hotel 751, a three-bedroomed training hotel which we helped to launch back in 2017.
Helen and Lizzie’s roles include working at reception, at the on-site Walled Garden Café and The Orangery Restaurant, as well as housekeeping in the rooms.
Helen says: “I really like working in the bathroom best, making it all clean and sparkly.”
Not only do they represent Great Britain in the Down Syndrome Swimming team, but they recently returned from the 2023 Virtus Global Games in Vichy with an impressive eight medals between them! Helen won gold in the 400-metre freestyle, along with four silver medals and a bronze. Lizzie won two Silvers as part of the female and mixed relay teams, which Helen was also in.It goes without saying that they were both incredibly pleased about their successes, with Lizzie commenting: “it felt amazing, my mum was crying”, and Helen adding: “my mum was cheering me on a lot. I was so happy to do well.”
Helen and Lizzie have travelled the world to compete in swimming events, visiting countries including Canada, Sardinia, Italy and Portugal. Their next big competition is in Italy this September, as we wish them the best of luck!
DSS-GB Team Manager, Neil Lacey commended the success of the Derwen College students, saying: “Helen and Lizzie had a fantastic Virtus Global Games - they took on the event with the determination and focus we have come to expect from them as Great Britain swimmers with excellent results and medals. Helen, Lizzie, and also Derwen students Dylan Hughes and Ciara McKenna, have been with The Down Syndrome Swimming GB squad since a young age and it is a pleasure and gives us great pride to watch them in and out of the water becoming great swimmers and impressive young adults.”
Though Helen and Lizzie both love swimming, they’re looking forward to working in hospitality when they leave Derwen College. Helen says, “I would like to work in a café serving people food and drinks”, while Lizzie says, “I’d like to live with my boyfriend, get two dogs, and have a job as a waitress in a restaurant.”
We’d like to congratulate Helen and Lizzie for their hard work and success, and wish them all the best for the future!