Chairman hosts reception in honour of William Graham

12th March 2019

Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Howard Thornton, recently hosted a reception for local athlete William Graham at Enniskillen Castle Museums on Wednesday 27 February 2019.

Speaking at the reception Councillor Howard Thornton said, “As Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I am delighted to welcome you all to Enniskillen Castle Museums this evening to this reception. I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to William Graham in whose honour this evening is being hosted.

It is often said that champions are born out of adversity and that certainly has been the case for you. Having entered the world weighing just shy of 2lb and being 3 months early it was a difficult start to your life. However, the early fight which you displayed on your premature arrival, has been in many ways, the hallmark of your career as an athlete.

Everything you have entered, you have embraced with commendable passion and determination be that Young Farmers Clubs competitions, your foundation degree in computing which you are currently undertaking or indeed in your Boccia career.

Your sporting prowess is not just confined to Boccia. You have also won Special Olympics All Ireland Gold medals in Wheelchair Slalom and shot putt. The athlete’s oath for Special Olympics is “Lord let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”. I think that sums you up perfectly.

While Boccia is now your main sport, you are, I understand a key member of the Devenish Warriors powered chair football team and have event made the Northern Ireland squad. I am in awe of your commitment and energy as you pursue these sports with such enthusiasm.

You have, I’m told, been a member of Fermanagh Lakers Boccia Club for 8 years and in that time, you have won several titles. You were a key part of the Fermanagh Lakers team which was crowned Ulster Champions in 2017. It was at these championships that you first came to the attention of Odhran Doherty, Performance Director for Disability Sport NI. Such has been your progress at elite level, that you have already been selected on the Northern Ireland Squad and have been successful at the British Championships winning team and individual medals.

Your Irish title win in December has been the pinnacle of your success to date bringing the title to Northern Ireland for the first time and you are now on the radar for Paralympics Ireland. You have also, I understand, attended a High-Performance camp with Team GB coaches in Scotland. I believe that while the team has already been selected for the World Games in Japan in 2020, you have set your sights on securing selection for the World Summer Games in France in 2024. With your determination and ability, I see no reason why you cannot achieve this.

Of course, your success would not have been possible without the tremendous work which you have done with your coaches, and on your behalf can I thank your coaches at Fermanagh Lakers, Marty Carney and Louise Noble who have assisted in Monday training with the Fermanagh Lakers Boccia Club and Liam Campbell for the training programme in the Gym. I know also how much you value the support which you received from your teachers both at Irvinestown Primary School and more latterly at Devenish College.

I know you would also wish to thank Odhran Doherty and the staff of Disability Sport N.I. for the performance training which you have availed off.

William, you truly are an inspiration to us all. You have been a wonderful ambassador, not only for your club and yourself, but also for the Fermanagh and Omagh District and we are very proud of you. On behalf of the Council, can I congratulate you on your marvellous success thus far and wish you every success for the future.”.