Wheelchair basketball team are new band of brothers for 'miracle man' Corporal Tony Williams

St Helens Star: From left: Vikings’ Lee Horsley, Steve Rimmer, John Horsley, Sue Peel and Tony Williams From left: Vikings’ Lee Horsley, Steve Rimmer, John Horsley, Sue Peel and Tony Williams

A SQUAD of wheelchair whirlwinds that is packed with inspiring characters is enjoying a storming season flying the St Helens Vikings flag.

Last month the basketball team pipped rivals Eagles 47-46 thriller at Parr in the Great Britain Wheelchair Association National League North But then the Vikings are renowned for their character and that spirited display is typical from a club that has bonded disabled and able-bodied sportsmen and women.

Star readers will recall the inspirational tale of how soldier and Islands Brow man Corporal Tony Williams survived being shot four times and paralysed. He was also hit by a grenade while serving in Afghanistan with the Royal Army Nursing Corps.

Tony and fiancee Sharon Shaw are about to become proud parents early in 2014.

When their daughter, already named Holly Alaina, is born she’ll be another ‘miracle’ – just like her dad. Tony was told by specialists that he had only a five per cent chance of ever becoming a father following his horrific injuries.

The humble corporal believes his brave struggle to regain mobility after being paralysed when a bullet severed his lower spine has been boosted by his involvement with the Vikings.

He told the Star: “Vikings have helped me more than they know. They have helped with my transition into life outside of the forces and have become a very good bunch of reliable friends who all have their own inspirational stories on which I thrive on and gain perspective.”

Two of his clubmates are brothers Lee and John Horsley who live in Dentons Green.

Able-bodied players are allowed to participate and John, 27, decided to have a go after going along to support 30 year-old Lee, who is Vikings’ vice-chairman and assistant coach.

“John and Lee are able to play together and wheelchair basketball is one of the few sports where siblings can do this when one is disabled,” said Vikings’ secretary and joint head coach Sue Peel, 41, who has competed at international level for 11 years.

“We have had backing from St Helens Rotary Club and would welcome support from businesses in the area. It is an exciting spectacle and promoted in a big way in Spain.”

Team mate, club chairman and joint head coach Steve Rimmer, 46, is proud of the club’s history in the Great Britain Wheelchair Association competition.

“We have 32 fixtures per season and also have junior teams with players aged from six years through to 18,” said Steve.

Training nights are on Mondays and Thursdays at Lansbury Bridge School, Lansbury Avenue, Parr, where the Vikings play their home fixtures.

To give wheelchair basketball a go, email vikings2009wbc@hotmail.co.uk.

If you would like to attend training and need to borrow a sports chair, contact the club in advance to check one is available

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