School has special place in Paralympic broadcaster's heart

Children at at Newtown C of E Primary School in Gosport dress up as their favourite nursery rhyme characters          (171220-10)

Children dress up as their favourite nursery rhyme characters

He came to officially open a school as a specialist sports college and give pupils masterclasses in basketball.

But the overriding effect of Ade Adepitan's visit to Mary Rose School yesterday was to inspire beaming smiles on the faces of the children.

The wheelchair basketball player and Paralympic broadcaster – famous for his slick moves on a BBC continuity slot between programmes – visited the 9m special needs school in Gisors Road, Portsmouth, for the second time after opening the school last year.

Ade said: 'It's a fantastic school. The staff are very warm and welcoming.

'The kids were all really bright and cheery and it reminded me of what it was like when I was in school. And when I saw the reaction from all the children it felt like I had to come back.'

Headteacher Alison Beane said: 'We're absolutely delighted. He's such an inspirational character. He really enjoys what he does and he gets his enthusiasm going with our young people. It couldn't be better.'

Sports college status brings with it a welcome injection of cash from government. After the school raised 20,000, it received 100,000 capital build funding to develop The Studio – a room for dance, gymnastics, fitness work and sensory integration with phenomenal sound, lighting and space.

The school will also receive 60,000 a year for the next four years to enhance staffing and work with community partners.

Mrs Beane said: 'Many of our pupils have physical disabilities and health issues. Sport, wellbeing and fitness all go together to help move them forward, to develop their physical skills and it's such a motivating activity.'

Ade added: 'Sport is important to everybody, not just for children. It boosts your self-confidence, it keeps you healthy, gets you out and about and it helps your communication skills. There are so many things you learn from sport that you can transfer to everyday life.'

The school is also working closely with Priory School in Southsea, which is a regional focal point for promoting excellence in physical education and community sport.