July 20, 2022 6.30 am

Welton school names its sports hall after Paralympian Sophie Wells

After a request from the students themselves

A Lincoln village school sports hall has been named after one of the Lincolnshire’s most successful Paralympians following student feedback from a group of Year 9 students.

The original sports hall at William Farr C of E School was opened along with the school in 1952 and though updated and extended, has never been officially named.

But Year 9 students Lola Bibby, Beatrice Brewer, Eva Shaw, Emily Brownrigg, Maja Krawczak, Eva Rose Fellows, Eleanor Barnes-Heath, Juliet Wright, Lexi Zablockyj, Frankie Wilde, Sylvana Szeckler, Millie Humphrey, Millie Sedaghat, Lily Bratty and Amelie Bishop wanted to change that and felt a new name would better reflect the inclusive modern atmosphere of the school.

So they wrote to headteacher Jonathan Knowler asking for his agreement to name the sports hall after a female role model as most of the existing buildings were named after men.

Headteacher Jonathan Knowler said he was delighted to receive and agree to such a good idea.

Sophie Wells OBE outside the newly named Wells Sports Hall at William Farr C of E School

The student council carried out a survey amongst 1200 students as to which sports person they wanted the sports hall to be named after. The winning vote was for Sophie Wells OBE, a highly decorated Paralympian in the equestrian sport of Dressage.

Sophie who is from Lincoln, opened the newly named ‘Wells Sports Hall ‘in front of invited students, staff and ex-students from the Welton school.

Sophie, 32, went on to do a talk and question and answer session for the pupils.

“Sophie has demonstrated perseverance and determination throughout her sporting career – matching one of the core values of William Farr School. As a female role model she has inspired so many other people,” said Eva.

Sophie was born with amniotic band syndrome, which causes little to no feeling or movement in her feet, as well as losing a number of fingers, but the para-equestrian rider is a fearless competitor who has always shown surefire determination.

Sophie Wells, 31, was overcome with emotion when she won the first of her two medals at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. | Photo: imagecomms / Paralympics GB

She now lives in Saxilby and describes herself as “just a farmer’s daughter from Lincoln with big dreams”, after growing up on a cattle farm with her parents.

Headteacher Jonathan Knowler said: “I am exceptionally proud of the students for their creativity, passion and dedication to this idea. When I was approached I knew it was a fantastic idea and it was a straightforward decision for me.”

“The new name will be a fantastic legacy not just to Sophie but to the students themselves.”

Sophie won three medals at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, and two Golds and one Silver at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, and most recently Team Gold & Individual Silver at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

The latest honour comes a decade after a post box on Lincoln’s Exchequer Gate was painted gold in celebration of the Lincolnshire horse rider’s success at the Paralympic Games.

“I am thrilled and humbled to be given this honour. It is a personal first as I have never had a building named after me. It is particularly exciting that the idea came from the students themselves,” said Sophie.

“It has always been important for me to try to be an ambassador and a role model for young female athletes and I hope this inspires others to achieve their dreams.”

1st, 2nd and 4th in her three events. Sophie Wells, you are incredible! | Photo: imagecomms / Paralympics GB

With eight Paralympic medals to her name, nobody from Lincolnshire has more success in the games than Sophie Wells. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite