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Parishioners give star swimmer great send-off

- Parishioners are preparing to cheer on one of their own as he gets set to make his Olympic debut. - BY AMANDA CONNELLY

Daniel Scott, a 25-year-old parishioner at St John Ogilvie in Irvine, will compete in this year’s Special Olympics in Sheffield, where he will be supported by family, friends and parishioners.

Mr Scott, who has been a keen swimmer from an early age, was given the opportunity to compete this year, much to his own delight and that of his family and community.

A well-known personality in St John Ogilvie parish, Mr Scott greets parishioners as they enter the church for the Saturday Vigil Mass each week, and all of them look forward to seeing his big smile. He also regularly helps out during the Mass, by carrying the gifts as part of the offertory procession.

Mr Scott celebrated his last Vigil Mass in the church on August 5 before travelling for the games, at which his parish priest, Fr Duncan McVicar, was due to give him a special blessing to wish him good luck.

Mr Scott has autism and dyspraxia and is a former pupil of the Mary Russell School in Paisley. He has joined a swimming team called the Jets in Kilmarnock, made up of swimmers with special needs.

The Jets compete against other clubs from all over Scotland, and Mr Scott has bagged several swimming medals during his time with the group. As a swimmer with the Jets, Mr Scott was eligible to compete in the Special Olympics this week.

Mr Scott’s Faith plays a big part in his life, and his parish community are ‘behind him all the way.’

Parishioners, led by Betty Morrison, have raised funds to pay for Mr Scott’s competition fees and he has also received a number of personal gifts to cheer him on.

Mr Scott took part in swimming while at school, and the school, although non-denominational, was ‘very supportive of his Faith’ and ‘supported his journey in Faith,’ which Mr Scott’s grandmother, Helen Carruth, described as ‘very humbling’ and ‘really quite impressive.’

She described his selection as a way for him to be an ‘ambassador’ and spoke positively of the inclusive and supportive nature of the Special Olympics.

“It doesn’t matter if someone comes in first or last; they are cheered on all the way,” she said. “We feel really honoured and so pleased for him.

“To be selected within the special needs community—it’s good as an ambassador.”

“He is a joy,” she added. “We’re all chuffed to bits that he’s going.”

Many of Mr Scott’s family planned to go to Sheffield with him to cheer him on, including his mum and dad, his sister, his gran, a family friend from Ireland, and his uncle, while many more from the parish planned to cheer him on from home.

He has been keeping in training by continuing to swim in the run-up to the event, as well as going on walks.

The Special Olympics were founded in 1978, as part of the global Special Olympics movement, and currently has 150 clubs in the UK, involving 10,000 athletes and more than 4,000 volunteers.

The group is a recognised member of the Olympic family, and this year marks the 10th Great British National Summer Games for the organisation—the largest multi-sports event for individuals with intellectual disabilities in 2017.

Hosted every four years, it offers athletes with special needs an opportunity to showcase their talents and compete at a national level, as well as giving them the chance to make new friends and travel.

The event was to kick off with a glittering opening ceremony, held at Sheffield United football stadium, with about 2,600 athletes taking part from around the UK, competing in 19 sports.


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