Norfolk’s Paralympic tennis star gains new wheelchair after Rotary fundraising

From left: Phil Plant (Wroxham Bure Valley), Heather Babb (Diss and District), Fred Smith (Broadlands), Joyce Plant (Wroxham Bure Valley), Alfie Hewett in his new wheelchair, Trevor Sayer and Nikki Young (Diss and District).

From left: Phil Plant (Wroxham Bure Valley), Heather Babb (Diss and District), Fred Smith (Broadlands), Joyce Plant (Wroxham Bure Valley), Alfie Hewett in his new wheelchair, Trevor Sayer and Nikki Young (Diss and District).

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A Team GB Paralympian from Norfolk set off for Rio de Janeiro with a fresh set of wheels this week, after a Diss Rotarian led a funding effort to help his bid for a gold medal.

British tennis star Alfie Hewett, 18, from Cantley, near Norwich, received a new day wheelchair in record time, thanks to fundraising by five local Rotary clubs over the course of just three weeks.

He was well known to Diss Rotarian Trevor Sayer, who had kept in touch with Alfie since helping to fund a sports wheelchair for him, as part of the ‘Wheelie Good Idea’ scheme, a legacy initiative set up after the 2012 London Games.

Upon hearing he needed a new day wheelchair for the Rio Games, Mr Sayer sought help from clubs in Broadlands, Reepham, North Walsham and Wroxham Bure Valley, and gained a strong response in time for Alfie’s departure to Brazil on Monday.

Mr Sayer, a former Rotary District Governor, told the Diss Express: “It’s fantastic. It really shows the power of Rotary.

“Alfie is well known to these clubs and they are not far geographically from where he is.

“We recognised real talent in Alfie and this has been realised now with him winning in many major tournaments in the last three years.

“We are obviously delighted our wheelchair has supported him over these years.

“It only made sense to us to see, in a short period of time, if we could raise the funds.

As one of the youngest Team GB athletes at the Paralympics, which start next Wednesday, Alfie is looking to follow up in his win in the men’s wheelchair doubles at Wimbledon this summer, with Scotland’s Gordon Reid.

He said: “I received my chair recently and I love it!

“It fits well and I’m getting used to the feel of it, so a massive thank you to Rotary.”

During the handover of the new wheelchair, Diss and District Rotary Club President Heather Babb wished Alfie good luck in the Paralympic Games, to enjoy his time in Rio and to come home safely.

Follow Alfie’s progress in Rio via Twitter — @alfiehewett6