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It is “amazing to see” our latest Young Citizen candidate in action, according to the three directors who nominated him.

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Gregory Wade, 14, of Denham Drive, Gants Hill, wishes he could spend all his free time helping disabled young people enjoy exciting activities.

The Oaks Park High School pupil spends at least one weekend a month at the Lambourne End Outdoor Centre in Essex tackling zip wires, rock climbing and archery with visitors who can have complex physical, behavioural and communication needs.

He said: “I enjoy all of it. I’d do it every weekend if possible.”

Gregory volunteers for Access All Care and Training Solutions alongside their specially trained carers and he stays overnight, rising to any challenge from 6pm on a Friday to 5pm on a Sunday. He has been nominated for our Exchange Ilford-sponsored Recorder/Redbridge Rotary Club award by its three directors, Debbie Pearce, Mary Davies and Amy Jenkins.

He is frequently paired with one other young person on the weekends funded by Redbridge Council. He guides them through what could be their first weekend away from home and has a “real talent with people with more challenging needs” such as autism or being non-verbal, according to Amy. She said: “The children and young people thrive on having a peer with them and they always want to play with Gregory, which he does without any effort.

“He demonstrates skills of a highly qualified practitioner.”

Gregory attributes his ease with disabled children to his background. His grandmother founded a Catholic Fellowship, which he also volunteers with, attending an eight-day summer care service and an October half-term holiday which both benefit people with disabilities.

And he’s taken his volunteering to another level by teaching himself the basics of sign language so he can communicate with some of the children.

He said: “It’s easy to do but hard to remember. It’s a life skill I’ll always be able to do.”

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