Happy as Harry!

Disability Team player Harry Parker has shot to fame following his incredible success as part of The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge, all in aid for Children in Need.

The challenge sees presenter Matt Baker join six inspirational young people on an epic bike ride. The eight day cycle has seen the team tackle a 423 journey from Calais to Salford. The team of riders, all of whom are supported by Children in Need funded projects, have pushed themselves to the limit, battling steep hills and braving the elements in hope that their efforts will help them raise as much money as possible.

Crossing the finish line on 19 November, the riders raised an astounding £4.5 million. The charity provides grants to projects in the UK which focus on children and young people who are disadvantaged, currently supporting 2,400 projects all across the UK.

One project that benefits from their support is Friends and Families of Special Children where Argyle Community Trust Disability Team player Harry Parker often visits with his family.

Throughout the journey Harry became a favourite amongst viewers with his positive attitude and winning smile. Harry’s father Steve said: “Harry is very determined and wanted to show the world that he can do anything.”

“The ethos and approach of the Ability Counts football has been of huge benefit to him and as parents we are really grateful for the support the Trust has given him.”

When Harry was one year old he was diagnosed with quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, and Worster-Drought Syndrome which affects his facial muscles. Over the years he has had numerous operations to enable him to use his legs more easily. He also struggles with communication and uses a combination of speech, sign language and tablet voice apps.

Harry has played from the Community Trust Disability Teams since he was nine years old: “He’s always loved football and the Trust has provided him a brilliant way to become involved in the game. The coaches have always found ways to ensure all the players get the opportunity to achieve their potential,” said Steve and continued to say: “Above all else, Harry has loved the felling camaraderie that comes from being part of a team and has particularly enjoyed the experience of travelling to play competitive matches against other teams from across Devon.”

The Ability Counts league offers a number of teams for footballers with PAN disabilities and works with partners to increase mental health football and disability specific teams, such as deaf football.

Harry’s mother Gill said: “The ethos and approach of the Ability Counts football has been of huge benefit to him and as parents we are really grateful for the support the Trust has given him.”

Harry attended his first Argyle match when he was three and is a long standing season ticket holder, remaining loyal throughout. As a fellow left-footed player Harry has always enjoyed the skills and eye for goal that Graham Carey brings to the game but the first player he every regarded as his favourite was Lilian Nalis back when he first watched the team.

Story Update – 24 November 2018: Harry’s Half Time Lap of Honour

As a thank you and to celebrate Harry’s hard work and great achievement as part of the Children in Need Rickshaw Challenge, the Argyle players and manager, Derek Adams, honoured Harry as part of Saturday’s game against Fleetwood.

As a passionate fan, Harry was able to enjoy a pre-match experience touring the stadium and then meeting all the players before watching the game. At half time Harry was then honoured by walking a lap of the pitch with players Gary Sawyer and Graham Carey who then presented him with a special Argyle shirt, signed by the first team. All the fans within the stadium were on their feet applauding the Ability Counts football player, all showing support on his great achievement to be part of the 423 mile cycle ride.

Parents, Steve and Gill expressed their thanks to the Trust and Club for their time and consideration saying that “it will be an experience Harry will never forget.”