Olympian Inspires People to Follow their Dreams

28 October 2011

Chris Cook, GB Olympic Swimmer, gave a truly inspirational speech as the guest speaker at County Durham Community Foundation’s public AGM. The event, which was held in the newly built Castle View Suite at Durham County Cricket Club’s International Ground, was entitled ‘Realising Dreams’ and celebrated County Durham Community Foundation’s charitable giving, particularly around the themes of sport and aspiring.


The Olympic Swimmer from South Shields talked to grant recipients, donors and guests of the Community Foundation about his successful swimming career and the importance of encouraging people to achieve their potential and realise their dreams. Chris said:

‘We need to fuel our young people’s passion for sport with inspiration to follow their heart-felt dreams, this is what a real legacy is about. Raising aspirations, providing reason to strive and helping them to explore their fullest potential are all important in supporting our young athletes. The London Olympic Games is a great opportunity to inspire and leave a legacy – the true legacy will be left in the young people we inspire.’


Following his speech Chris presented County Durham Community Foundation’s Outstanding Achievement Award 2011. Every year, members of the Community Foundation’s grants team nominate a grant recipient for the award. This year’s runners up were GB Rower Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell, GB Water Polo Talent Development Squad member Holly Short, 1st Byers Green Scout Group volunteer Dominic Dimucio and Shildon Amateur Boxing Club.


Matthew Cruddace-Wynne, a talented young ballet dancer was this year’s winner, receiving £250 towards his training costs. Matthew has been dancing since the age of four when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Attending ballet classes kept Matthew busy while his mother was undergoing treatment. When his mother made a full recovery Matthew stuck with his training, despite the stigma associated with boys in ballet. He attends the prestigious ballet boarding school Elmhurst, in Birmingham on a scholarship and has recently been chosen by the Birmingham Royal Ballet to play Fritz in the Nutcracker at the Birmingham Hippodrome and the O2 Arena in London.

Mark I’Anson, Chairman of the Community Foundation said:

“There are many incredibly talented young people in the North East who miss out on opportunities as a result of their background. We are proud to be able to support them and help them to realise their dreams. This year’s nominations were all based on the theme of realising dreams and we are delighted that Matthew has won the award. He is an incredibly talented, dedicated and determined young man and is achieving against the odds despite having had to deal with those who tormented him along the way.”