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Pride In Medway - Gary Thorp

"A wonderful boy who always has a smile on his face."

That's the touching tribute to Asperger's syndrome sufferer Gary Thorp, 11, who has been nominated for a Pride in Medway award.

He was put forward in the outstanding achievement category by his aunt Emma Thorp.

Gary, of Sawyers Court, Chatham, was born prematurely at 32 weeks and spent some time in Medway's special care baby unit.

Asperger's syndrome causes difficulties in social interaction and can in some cases lead to physical clumsiness as well.

Despite his disabilities, Gary has pushed himself to achieve and is an active participant in the special needs team at Gillingham Gymnastics Club on Second Avenue, Chatham.

He has won 11 medals in competition, and in September became a karate black belt at the Lordswood Leisure Centre in Chatham.

"He has achieved so much considering his disabilities," said Emma, who also lives in Sawyers Court.

"Only last year Gary was diagnosed as severely dyslexic.

"We knew he was dyspraxic as well but even so he learned to ride a bike unaided last year.

"For him to cope so well in life despite the late diagnosis is just remarkable."

Gary is also involved in a special needs sports aerobics squad, one of the first in the country, and has performed in displays in Chatham and Feltham.

He has just started at a special boarding school in Sussex, something Emma said he has taken very much in stride.

His mother Sarah said: "We are bursting with pride for Gary."

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