Cerebral palsy victim back on his feet thanks to Oldbury centre

It was a day that Shaun Stretton will never forget when he was helped in his quest to walk again with help from staff at Oldbury's new £18 million lifestyle centre.

For the last nine years the 39-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, has been confined to a wheelchair after breaking his ankle in a fall at home.

But over the last eight months he has spent five days a week training with staff at the Portway Leisure Centre and is now finally back on his feet. He has now helped officially open the centre.

He said: "I had been stuck in my chair for nine years and lost a lot of my independence. It feels fantastic to be back on my feet after all this time. It was only when I came to the lifestyle centre that I felt I could finally begin my recovery

Before the centre was opened Shaun had to rely on visiting several centres dotted around Tipton, Oldbury and West Bromwich, making his recovery difficult.

He added: “I prefer not to use my frame now I find it more of a hindrance than a help. I want to use my experience to help my friends get back on their feet as well. The staff are so helpful here."

When he first started at the leisure facility in Newbury Lane he set himself the challenge of walking down the centre's 100 metre main corridor and recently tackled his goal first with the aid of a walker and later without and has gone on to play wheelchair football, cricket and basketball.

Last week he helped Councillor Linda Horton, the Mayor of Sandwell, in unveiling the plaque marking the centre's official opening.

Michael Bott, co-ordinator of adult social services at the centre said: "He is a real inspiration to all the staff and users at the centre. He has really embraced the challenge and come such a long way in such a short time. We are all so proud of him."

The centre offers health and leisure services under one roof and is designed to help people in Sandwell access healthcare and leisure facilities in a built for purpose facility that includes a four-court sports hall, large multi-purpose activity hall, hydrotherapy pool, sensory room, indoor climbing wall and dance studio.