My Inspirational Teacher: by TV star and Paralympian Ade Adepitan
As part of our My Inspirational Teacher series we talk to Ade Adepitan, British TV presenter and former member of the British Paralaympics basketball team. His charity work includes helping organisations that help people with disabilities – and he hosted A World at School’s #UpForSchool youth rally in London last month.
Who was the teacher, or person, who really mattered in your life?
I had three inspirational teachers. I went to Credon Road Primary School in Upton Park, London. After two years of trying and failing to learn to swim, Mrs Samford made a special float to strap round my leg – without it I wouldn’t have learned how to swim. It was my first sporting achievement.
Mrs Nduka was my sociology teacher at Lister Community School in Stratford. She went to all her students’ homes and gave us extra tuition after school in the lead-up to our GCSE exams. She’s the reason why I got an A grade for all my course work.
I had to resit my English language and literature GCSEs. Mr Kerrin, my English teacher in Lister community school, really pushed me hard and helped me to improve from a D and C to 2 As.
There were also two physiotherapists who introduced me to wheelchair basketball – Owen Mghee and Kay Owen, who worked at Elizabeth Fry School in Canning Town. They totally changed my life and made me believe that I could achieve anything I wanted in life.
Steve Caine, the former Great Britain wheelchair basketball player, taught me what it takes and how to be a world-class basketball player. He’s the reason I made it into the GB team.
What did they say or do to make them so special?
They believed in me and went out of their way to help me. They made me realise that I should never give up on my dreams and that I should always believe in myself and try to help other people. They also taught me not to be afraid of making mistakes.
What was the moment you realised this person was influential to you?
I realised after London 2012 that the foundations of my success in life were built through the lessons I learned from these people. They empowered me and helped me to build my self-belief and mental toughness
Would you have been successful without this person’s encouragement?
Did you stay in touch with them?
Not all of them. Mrs Nduka tweeted me when I was co-hosting the evening show of the 2012 Paralympics, She was very proud. Kay, one of my physios, passed away a few years ago and I miss her a lot. Owen, the other physio, I see once or twice a year. I introduced Steve Caine to his French wife when we both played basketball together in Zaragoza, Spain. He moved to France and we communicate occasionally on Facebook.
Did you ever tell them what they meant to you?
Who in the world today would you describe as inspirational?
Barrack Obama, John Hockenberry (journalist and author), all the people I’ve met who are struggling to survive in developing countries.
Find out more about Ade on his website.