In the news - Darren Mitchell

30th October 2009 at 00:00

Who is he?

Darren Mitchell is a PE teacher at Bradfield College, a co-educational boarding school for 13 to 18-year-olds in Reading. In July last year, he broke his neck while on holiday in Spain, an injury that rendered him tetraplegic. Earlier this month, Mr Mitchell won this year's Daily Telegraph-Aviva School Sport Teacher of the Year Award. He was unaware that he had been nominated until he read his name in the Telegraph's sports pages in September.

So who nominated him? "I was put forward by a pupil but I still don't know who. I think it was one of the younger kids. For one of them to go and do that off their own back is fantastic."

What did he have to do to get it?

The award was for being a positive role model, for a teacher who is inspiring and goes above and beyond their ordinary teaching role.

Was the ceremony glittering?

"The award was presented to me by Olympic medallists Sally Gunnell and James Cracknell at Chelsea FC's Stamford Bridge stadium. My house master, Roger Wall, came with me. He used to visit me in hospital, giving me school updates, and was instrumental in getting me back to school. So the day out was like a thank you to him."

How hard was it to return to work?

"I came back at Easter, so the summer term was like an experiment to see what I can and can't do. Each term is a learning curve. In PE, you need the pupils to help you with things - for example, my wheelchair doesn't fit in the cupboard, but I make sure I get involved as much as possible. The only thing I really find difficult is that I'm a sociable person. When pupils are younger, they don't have the confidence to come up and have a joke with me because I'm in a wheelchair. They're getting better, but the older ones know I'm the same person as before."

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