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In The Spotlight With Stephen Miller MBE

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In the latest edition of In The Spotlight, North East Paralympic hero Stephen Miller MBE shares his fascinating tale with Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm.....

Profession?

Paralympian and Web Developer

Talk us through your career journey

I've competed in Paralympic sport for most of my life, starting from about 10 years old. I played mostly Boccia from an early age but later found athletics - specifically throwing events (Club and Discus throw). I quickly learned it was a sport I both enjoyed and was talented at.

Being quite severely impaired from my Cerebral Palsy, there were lots of doubts about me doing athletics over Boccia but my parents instilled a very positive attitude in me, which gave me the belief and courage to follow my own path.

I chose to do athletics and went on to become the youngest ever British Olympic/Paralympic Gold medallist in Atlanta 1996. I have competed in six Paralympics in my career so far, winning three Golds, one Silver and two Bronze, also holding the Club Throw World Record from 2007-2008. I was the Male Athletics Team Captain in London 2012 and was awarded an MBE for services to sport in 2016.

I'm a big advocate of the benefits of sport and activity; for many years I've spoke at various events and in schools about my experiences. In 2013, I helped found SMILE Through Sport CIC to create opportunities for disabled people to get into sport.

I have a Degree from Northumbria University and have worked as a Web Developer, recently securing a job after a work placement year.

What have been the biggest challenges in your career?

As a Paralympian - staying injury free and coming back from injury, maintaining the motivation to push myself to the limit, locating accessible facilities, controlling my emotions and managing anxiety.

As a web developer - Getting an employer to see past my disability, adapting hardware and software for my needs, managing my time and managing change.

What are your biggest achievements?

Winning six Paralympic medals including three golds, and breaking the world record!

Also, graduating from Northumbria University with a 2-1 honours degree, holding down a full time job and using that to help develop online systems for the NHS used by doctors and nurses.

How have you been using your life experiences to help others with disabilities?

I founded SMILE Through Sport CIC in 2013 to create opportunities for disabled people to take part in sport. I also qualified as a coach for disabled athletes.

What’s your number one piece of advice for anybody?

Enjoy what you do, never stop learning and be grateful of what you receive.

What did you want to be when you were at school?

Funnily enough, I wanted to be a magician!

What was your first job?

My first proper job was a database developer for the Northern Gynae Oncology Centre at the QE Hospital.

If you could have an alternative job, what would it be?

Fiction writer/author, or speech writer.

What do you love most about working in the North East?

Not the weather! Seriously though, I love this region - the people are so passionate and friendly. I get so much support.

What do you love most about living in the North East?

The tight bond and community spirit of the people, and the amazing scenery.

What do you do in your down time?

I have a season ticket for Newcastle United. I also like writing. However, I still have a great ability to play computer games for hours, even at my age.

Epitaph?

“Where there's a will, there's a way.”

As mentioned, Stephen helps use the power of sport to inspire and engage disabled individuals with SMILE Through Sport, and is also a patron for Hartlepool-based charity Families First. You can follow him on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Would you like to take part in our 'In The Spotlight' series? If you think you stand out from the crowd please email us with the following information:

Your full name, the business or charity in which you are involved and why you would like to take part.

If selected we will be in touch to interview.

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