A teenage Hull swimmer is just days away from living out her dream and competing in the Special Olympics European Disability Swimming Championships in Belgium – thanks to the sponsorship of the Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust.
Natalie Moon, 19, who swims for Kingston Swimming Club, was selected to represent her country, but was faced with raising £1,600 to be able to travel and compete.
Due to the cost, her participation initially looked uncertain and her father, Arthur, looked into potentially taking out a loan to ensure she could fulfil her dream.
However, the Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust then stepped in, agreeing to sponsor Natalie for the full cost of her trip.
Now, having travelled to London to meet Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at 10 Downing Street this week, as part of the Great Britain team’s preparations, Natalie, of Rosmead Street, east Hull, is ready to compete.
“Going to Downing Street was really good, and a bit unexpected,” she said.
“There were about 30 of us and I spoke to the Deputy Prime Minister. We talked about the national games in Sheffield and I said I was from Yorkshire. He was very nice. I won’t forget it as we were made to feel very welcome.
“I feel ready for Belgium now and I will do my best.”
Natalie also paid a visit to the Belgian Embassy in London with her team mates before they left London.
She will compete in the 400m front crawl on Sunday, September 14, the 100m breast stroke on Tuesday, September 16 and swim as part of the relay team on Friday, September 19, before returning home on September 22.
Arthur, 66, who is wishing his daughter well from Hull as she competes for medals, said: “I’m over the moon that Natalie has this opportunity. It brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes when I talk about it.
“She is 19 and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so she’s got to grab it with both hands.
“Natalie also competed in the Nationals in August. She did four swims and made four finals, coming third in one. All of those were personal bests. I’m so proud of her.”
Natalie is hoping to build on her current success after winning five gold medals and a silver at the North East Region Disability Championships last year.
Swimming in a category for participants with learning difficulties, her main focus is to make it to the Olympics in Rio in 2016.
Natalie’s coach, Graham Martin, who trains her in Hull’s Regional Development Squad five nights a week, said he will be following her progress throughout her stay in Belgium and her visit to Number 10 was a special addition to the trip.
He said: “It’s an added bonus for all her hard work. It’s nice the disability side of the sport is now becoming more widely recognised. This trip has to be the highlight of her career at this moment in time, and let’s hope she can continue.”
The Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust aims to give back to the community and invites groups to apply for grants of up to £2,500, with a total of £100,000 available over a 12-month period.
The next deadline for applications is September 30.
For further information, visit the Neil Hudgell Solicitor’s Trust page.