Harrogate sixth-former battles back from heart condition to award nomination

Jonathan Walker (left) and Tom Rees (right) (s)

Jonathan Walker (left) and Tom Rees (right) (s)

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A Harrogate sixth former has been nominated for the district’s Adversity Awards after bravely bouncing back from a life-threatening heart condition.

Tom Rees, a sixth form student at Harrogate High School, was rushed to hospital last summer after collapsing following a game of football.

The school nurse discovered that Tom’s pulse was racing at 400 beats per minute after the game and by the time the ambulance arrived he was unconscious and his heart had stopped beating.

Tom later discovered that he had inherited a severe heart condition that caused the incident and faced months of medical treatment.

He feared that, due to his condition, prolonged bed rest and plummeting weight, he may never play sport again.

Tom said: “Sport had always been a huge part of my life and all of a sudden I was confined to bed facing the prospect that I might never be able to train again.

“I was scared to be on my own in case I collapsed again and I completely lost my confidence.”

Tom was given the all clear in March and was allowed to return to sporting activity but, by that time, the teenager weighed just eight and a half stone.

Despite feeling ‘scared’ and ‘vulnerable’ returning to sport, Tom battled through his fears and has returned to take up his love of sport once again.

He said: “It’s been tough but working out regularly in the gym has given me a focus and I’m now achieving my goals of getting back to the level of sport I enjoyed before.”

Tom’s bravery and courage has meant that he has been able to return to competing in a wide range of sports and has also taken up teaching swimming at the high school in his spare time.

As a result of this, Tom has been nominated for the Harrogate District Adversity Awards by Gambaru Fitness, where he is able to train four times a week.

Gambaru’s Jonathan Walker said: “Tom’s courage, commitment and determination to never give in are an inspiration to everyone who has faced challenges in their lives.”

Schools and sports clubs in the district can nominate 14-18 year olds who have used sport to overcome adversity.

Nominations can be made at www.adversityawards.com and close on June 5 with the ceremony on June 24.