Joanne’s Story

Here is an inspirational story about a wonderful young lady as told by her mum, Christine Kempley.

What a day! Watching our daughter, Joanne, carrying the Olympic Torch in West Yorkshire on a sunny day in June it was difficult to remember back to the time shortly after she was born, when we were delivered the crushing news she had a major heart problem. Joanne was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot when she was three months old, and underwent surgery to fit a shunt at six months, followed by successful open heart surgery at six years old. This transformed the life of our blue and out of breath little girl. From being unable to walk any distance, she learnt to enjoy exercise and took up swimming lessons which then led on to swimming in competitions.

She now leads a full and varied life. She is ladies captain of the Great Britain Down’s Syndrome swimming squad and has recently competed in Taiwan at the World Championships. Joanne gained a silver and two bronze medals in the ladies relay team. She will shortly be travelling to Italy for her next World Championship competition.

Joanne is an actor with the Dark Horse Theatre Company in Huddersfield and has appeared in local productions and also in an episode of the TV programme Shameless.

She enjoys working as a volunteer with a local Special Needs Toddler Group and has a lovely boyfriend whom she met through swimming. And so, it was with enormous pride that we watched our daughter carry the Olympic Torch in front of friends, family and supporters who have helped her throughout her 22 years. In her words she has an “awesome” life.

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