Andy Townsend

Tell me about your time at DHSB

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at DHSB and achieved GCSEs as well as participating in lots of sports! The sports teachers, Mr Moon, Mr Hayman and Mr Laws, saw lots of me and enabled me to participate as much as possible.

What path has your career taken?

I started my employment as an administrator within a local authority working with students applying for grants, having just been in receipt of a grant myself.

I then moved into a job as administrator within the Fire Service. I am now General Manager of the centre, Lifeskills – Learning for Living, a charity delivering hands on interactive safety education to targeted groups, children, adults with learning difficulties, older people, special schools and Children’s Centres, working with parents to safeguard their young children.

Any surprises along the way?

That’s my career but what I haven’t mentioned so far is my disability. I was born with a deformity in my right leg which I had amputated when I was three. My disability made me extremely determined, primarily to work hard and be on a par with my classmates and that’s where my competitive spirit hit in. When I was 15 I was spotted by Tony Willis, an amputee himself, and PE Teacher at a local school in Plymouth. He introduced me to disability sports, and gave me lifts across the country to training events in athletics and volleyball. I was then able to compete at national and international level representing GB at the World Youth Games in Miami in 1989 sprinting against a guy called Tony Volpentest from USA (who went on to become Paralympic Champion).

I was also part of the GB Volleyball team wining Bronze in the World Championships in Las Vegas in 1989 and the Paralympic Volleyball team playing in Barcelona in 1992.

Any advice for current students?

All of the above evidence was used in an application to carry the Olympic Torch on its journey across the country, and the application was successful. On 22 May 2012 I carried the Torch on its journey between Bath and Bristol. This was one of the most amazing events of my life.

Enjoy life. The more effort you put in, the more you’ll get out of it and you’ll always find it a lot easier if you’ve got people supporting you – friends, family, teachers and coaches.