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Paralympian who lost both legs in Afghanistan visits school to speak about resilience

PUBLISHED: 13:29 11 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:04 11 October 2019

Former student Lochlann Baker receives his award from para-triathlete Joe Townsend at the SET Beccles Celebration Evening. Photo: Seckford Education Trust

Former student Lochlann Baker receives his award from para-triathlete Joe Townsend at the SET Beccles Celebration Evening. Photo: Seckford Education Trust

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A paralympian who lost both of his legs while serving as a marine in Afghanistan visited the SET Beccles School to inspire students.

Students at SET Beccles School were presented with awards for their achievements in academic subjects and extra-curricular activities over the past year. Year 11 leaver Lochlann Baker (end right) was presented with the Seckford Foundation Cup for Outstanding Academic Performance. Photo: Seckford Education TrustStudents at SET Beccles School were presented with awards for their achievements in academic subjects and extra-curricular activities over the past year. Year 11 leaver Lochlann Baker (end right) was presented with the Seckford Foundation Cup for Outstanding Academic Performance. Photo: Seckford Education Trust

A paralympian who lost both legs while serving as a marine in Afghanistan visited the SET Beccles School to inspire students.

Joe Townsend was a royal marine until he became a double amputee at the age of 19 as a result of stepping on a landmine in Helmand Province.

After his injury Mr Townsend strived to get back to his former level of fitness, eventually even surpassing it to become a gold medal winning para-triathlete.

Students at SET Beccles School, formerly Beccles Free School, were inspired by his tale of determination and endeavour at the school's annual celebration evening on Friday, October 4.

The evening was a recognition of all achievements for students over the past academic year.

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Mr Townsend inspired students with his passion for sport and his resilience in the face of adversity, the school said.

"After losing both legs in an explosion while on tour in Afghanistan as a royal marine commando, Joe was determined to become a world-renowned para-triathlete," the school said.

"Joe competed in the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016 and won gold at the ITU World Triathlon Championships in 2017 and 2018. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Joe tackled his fear of heights by carrying the Paralympic Flame into the stadium with a dramatic high-wire entrance as part of the opening ceremony."

After sharing his inspirational story, Mr Townsend presented awards and prizes to students in Years 7 to 11 for individual achievements and progress made in academic subjects, as well as success in extra-curricular activities.

School leaver Lochlann Baker was presented with the Seckford Foundation Cup for Outstanding Academic Performance after achieving five top Grade 9 GCSEs this summer. Lochlann's grades put him among the top three percent in the country.

Other awards included the Watson Cup awarded to leaver Liam Mills for his outstanding progress, as well as for raising £200 for charity as part of the National Citizenship Service.

Headteacher David Lees said it was "another brilliant year" of success.

"I'd also like to thank our guest speaker Joe Townsend for joining our celebrations and for sharing his incredible life story, which demonstrates the rewards of being dedicated and committed to achieving success," he added.

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