Back to The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List 2018

Our Winner: Daniel Pepper

Category: Sports, arts and entertainment

Dan uses his learning disability and experiences to promote equal opportunities.

Paralympian, coach, inspiration

Daniel Pepper is a Paralympian swimmer, having competed at the London 2012 Olympics, who has an intellectual disability.

Making his voice heard

He went onto become a volunteer ambassador for the UK Sports Association, an organisation representing people with intellectual disability in sport across the UK. Daniel worked on the ‘hear my voice’ campaign that encourages young people with an intellectual disability to get into sport.

Above and beyond these fantastic achievements, Daniel was nominated by Sarah Tweedie. She said: “Our involvement and contact with Dan came about through a mutual friend, who has now sadly passed away.

“She knew that my own daughter Rachel, a keen swimmer herself and also S14 classified, has had poor and negative experiences at her Swimming club and was – at the time – struggling with high levels of anxiety, had become more withdrawn and was disengaging from the one thing in life that brought her pleasure, Swimming.

Daniel Sports, arts and entertainment LDA Leaders' List 2018
Dan is using his sporting skills to help others.

“From the moment we made contact with Dan, he has not only inspired both Rachel and ourselves, with regard to her swimming capabilities, but he’s demonstrated to us a passion for supporting and developing opportunities for young people (such as Rachel) that are wholly inclusive, welcoming and safe.

“Dan has given all of us the hope and conviction that it is a positive thing to have aspirations for Rachel and that, with appropriate support, she will be able to realise her dreams.

“In his role as senior coach at Marple Swimming Club, Stockport, Dan uses his learning disability and experiences to promote equal opportunities and to celebrate diversity and difference. He has encouraged Rachel to channel her energies, focus on her self-development and has at all times acted as a positive role model to her.

“He has supported Rachel and other young people in facing their fears, encouraging them to be resilient and to always strive to be the best that they can be. Dan has taught us not to limit ourselves or Rachel. He has given us both the strength and conviction to support her in chasing her dreams.

“This summer saw both Dan and Rachel starting to achieve their dreams. Rachel in her role as a swimmer representing Great Britain at the INAS European Summer Games and Dan in his role as the Great Britain swimming coach at this event.”

Daniel Sports, arts and entertainment LDA Leaders' List 2018

Dan is clearly an inspiration to athletes like Rachel in demonstrating that the skills he learned, and once used as an athlete himself, are transferable and are an invaluable resource to draw on and use in his support of others.

Dan now aspires to develop a programme for swimmers with intellectual disability that can support their identification and pathways to progression.

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