Tom makes a difference at Henshaws


Students with mobility issues have been given a helping hand by a fellow student at Henshaws Specialist College in Harrogate.

Tom Oates, of Bishop Monkton, who is visually-impaired, set himself the challenge of running a 10k race in the summer in a bid to raise funds for a MOTOmed movement trainer for the College’s gym to help other students improve their mobility.

Tom trains regularly in the College’s gym and had learned how the movement trainer was a major help in improving life for students with limited mobility. He was a regular runner in 5k park runs at Fountains Abbey with his mother, Emma, and took on the challenge of running Melmerby 10k to raise funds for a second machine.

Tom, who is almost blind, has a number of disabilities due to having Bardet Biedl Syndrome, a genetic disorder which can affect sight as well as presenting other physical difficulties such as kidney problems and obesity. Despite this, he is well-known at the College for his efforts to support other students and his career goals include working in care.

He completed the run in 1hr 26m, raising nearly £2,000. He said: “I was quite stunned. We raised £1,900 and it has been topped up by a local trust which is brilliant!”

Vicky Little with student Tom Oates and the new MOTOmed movement trainer he has helped to buy
Vicky Little with student Tom Oates and the new MOTOmed movement trainer he has helped to buy


Tom trains in the College gym at lunchtimes with the help of Sports Instructor Vicky Little, who helps other students on the MOTOmed. She said: We are really grateful to have this fantastic piece of equipment. The students absolutely love it. It means more of our students can access the exercise they enjoy which benefits their health and well-being.


The movement trainer is designed to help students affected by disability who struggle to access exercise through more traditional options. As they become enabled, this clever equipment “intelligently” reduces its motorised involvement.

Tom is not finished just yet. He has a new personal trainer, Stuart Clark, and they are working together twice a week, with Tom aiming to knock ten minutes off his time when he runs the Melmerby 10k again next year. He also wants to complete a duathlon – comprising a tandem bike ride and run – in the next 12 months.

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