Paralympian Aileen Neilson Receives Honorary Doctorate

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Three time Paralympian Aileen Neilson received an honorary doctorate from the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) at a graduation ceremony at Town House in Hamilton today.

The ParalympicsGB skip won bronze at the Paralympic Games in Sochi four years ago and earlier this year skipped the team at the Paralympics in PyeongChang, the same venue where her team won bronze at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in 2017.

After the ceremony Neilson said: “It was a real honour to be recognised in this way”.

46 year old who hails from Strathaven, graduated with a Bachelor of Education (hons) ifrom Craigie College (now UWS) in 1993 and after an enjoyable teaching career working with primary 5 to primary 7 pupils, Neilson took a break to focus full time on her curling career in the lead up to Sochi, having already won silver and bronze at the World Wheelchair Champs in 2011 and 2007 respectively.

“I have been very fortunate to have had two careers, teaching and also curling. I found a number of parallels between them in terms of developing and motivating others and working together in a team environment, although I think the kids at school probably listened to me more,” she joked.

“I have found both careers very rewarding and fulfilling and continuing the school visits as an athlete is a great experience, continuing that contact with young people and sharing my story will hopefully inspire more youngsters into the sport that has taken me around the world.”

Neilson continued: “It has been a thoroughly enjoyable day and great recognition for wheelchair curling and I hope to continue raising the profile of the sport to get more people involved.

“My advice to anyone wanting to pursue their ambitions is don’t let anyone tell you your goals are impossible.”

Image credits - from top: Aileen Neilson,  ParalympicsGB, Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart

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