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Sidcup gymnastics coach, 74, receives Point of Light award

PUBLISHED: 13:29 28 October 2015 | UPDATED: 13:29 28 October 2015

Kay Salter

Kay Salter

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Kay Salter was recognised by prime minister David Cameron for coaching over 1,800 young people with disabilities

A 74-year-old gymnastics coach who has coached over 1,800 young people with disabilities through gymnastic classes has been named a Point of Light by prime minister David Cameron.

Kay Salter has been a coach at The Falcon Spartak Gym Club in Sidcup - part of Special Olympics London and London Gymnastics - for the past 30 years.

She runs multiple weekly gymnastics sessions for young people with learning and physical disabilities, dedicating hours of her time nearly every day to volunteer as a coach.

Ms Salter, a grandmother, is the latest recipient of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.

Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

For a number of decades she has been recognised as a leading champion for disability gymnastics, running sessions through the Special Olympics GB sports programme.

Several of the other coaches at the club are also former disabled gymnasts, who have remained in the sport thanks to Ms Salter’s guidance, tutelage and inspiration.

She got involved in disability gymnastics after speaking to parents of children with dyslexia and Down’s Syndrome and hearing that they dreaded sports days and similar events.

She was moved by this and saw an urgent need for working at a much slower pace and breaking down the very basic skills to help young people with disabilities achieve.

Mr Cameron said: “Kay has dedicated four decades of her life to making sure young people of all abilities are able to get involved in gymnastics.

“The incredible impact she has on the lives of those she coaches is shown by the number of gymnasts she inspires to return to the club as coaches themselves.

“Kay has been a driving force in inclusive sport and thoroughly deserves to be a recognised as a Point of Light.”

In 2000 Ms Salter co-founded a national competition for disability gymnasts in Poole that has since seen over 2,000 young people compete from across the UK.

This competition is aimed at the grassroots of the sport and is open to any gymnast with any disability, providing a safe, welcoming environment that encourages disability gymnasts to excel and show what they can achieve.

Ms Salter encourages disabled gymnasts of all ages and abilities to learn their skills in smaller groups and at their own pace, working alongside the advice of two physiotherapists to establish individual programmes of activity and behaviour management plans for all gymnasts so they can integrate easily.

She is the 377th winner of the Points of Light award which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA and was first established by President George H. W. Bush.

Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Point of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.

Ms Salter said: “I am amazed to receive this award and feel extremely honoured, however sincere thanks must go to the parents who have allowed their child to come and work in the gym with us over the years and to all the coaches that have also been involved.”

Local MP, Jo Johnson, said: “I was absolutely thrilled to learn that Kay Salter has been presented with the Point of Light Award by the prime minister.

“Sports clubs, which are such important centres for the local community, simply would not be able to function without people like Kay doing the hard work behind the scenes.

“I am delighted to hear that she is getting the recognition she deserves, and would like to wish everyone at the Falcon Spartak Gym Club well for the future.”

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