A TEENAGER paralysed from the waist down in a sports accident will get a new wheelchair thanks to the fundraising efforts of his fellow Longsands Academy students.

Each year pupils pick a good cause to benefit from the academy’s Christmas bazaar, and this year it was one of their own – Dean Symmons, who has been in a wheelchair since suffering a spinal stroke in a PE lesson in June.

Dean has been collecting funds towards a new lightweight chair that will allow the Year 11 pupil to take part fully in PE lessons again and begin wheelchair basketball training.

The £2,200 raised by Longsands pupils will allow Dean to buy the agile sports chair, and move closer to his dream of playing for his country.

“I can’t put it into words how much easier they have made my life, and how happy they have made me by raising this money,” said Dean.

“On the day I had kids who I have never seen before coming up to me and saying they would do all they can to help me with getting my chair.

“It’s amazing what people will do even if they don’t know me.”

Students raised the money at the traditional end-of-term celebration, with cake stalls, sports activities and musical performances.

Dean, of Swift Close, St Neots, and his family had already raised around £1,000 towards the chair and with the bazaar total higher than expected, the remaining money will be put towards replacing Dean’s everyday-use chair next year or paying for maintenance on his current chair.

He was paralysed from the waist down after a softball PE lesson at Longsands in June. Swinging to hit the ball, he slipped a disc and scraped his spinal cord, causing a clot which cut the flow of blood to his legs.

He spent four months in rehabilitation at Stoke Mandeville’s spinal unit, before returning to school in October.

Dean said: “The new chair is going to make my life 10 times easier and will mean I can go to Cambridge for some basketball trials.

“You know when you get that feeling in your tummy that you are so close to something you want.

“I’ve got that now – I’m so close to the new chair that I can almost touch it.”