Irwin Mitchell | Focus on Education | My school story: Hannah Cockroft MBE

Hannah Cockroft MBE is a 23 year old athlete who was projected onto the world stage after she won two gold medals for the 100m and 200m at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. She broke four Paralympic records and was awarded an MBE in 2013 for services to athletics.

What schools did you attend and what lessons did you enjoy most?

I attended Ling Bob Nursery School, Wainstalls J&I School, Holy Trinity Senior School and Sixth Form and Calderdale College. I am now a part time student at Coventry University.

When I was at school, my favourite lesson was definitely music. I would spend my break times in the music room, with friends, singing around a piano or having my violin lessons. I loved it and got an A* in my music GCSE.

When I moved onto sixth form it was no longer a lesson choice, so I studied drama, English Literature and English Language. English Language was my favourite subject out of the three. In college I studied for a Sports diploma, as it was a subject I had been unable to study at school or in sixth form due to health and safety reasons and now I’m at university, I am studying media and journalism.

What were your aspirations as a child?

As a child, I probably went through all the usual girly career options. At 3 years old, I wanted to be a ballerina, not the best career path for a girl that could barely stand up! Following that, pop star was a strong favourite along with an actress or princess! In secondary school though, I was interested in joining the police force. I completed my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award, in which I completed a course with the Police. As part of it I learnt how to use speed cameras, toured the Police station, rode in a Police car and was taught how to take fingerprints. It was a great experience.

Did you have any inspirational teachers and what impact did they have on you?

It was a teacher at school who actually first got me involved in wheelchair sports. Mrs Daniel was my PE teacher and she also ran the disport team in my secondary school. When I was in year 8, Mrs Daniel managed to get the local wheelchair basketball team to come and do a demo in school and the rest is history really! Had she not invited the team in that day, I might never have found a pathway into wheelchair sports.

What advice do you wish you had received when you were at school?

I wish I had been told I could do anything I wanted by more people than just my parents. I had a childhood of people telling me things I couldn’t do and only had my parents pushing me forward to try my hand at everything. I always wonder how different things might have been had I been introduced to wheelchair sports, earlier. I’m now racing against 14 year olds who have been competing for the same amount of years as me. At their age, I didn’t even know wheelchair racing existed so I missed some valuable years of training.

What job did your teachers think you would be best suited for?

I have no idea! I think they all knew that my aim was to be famous, but no one, including myself, knew how I would get there. I definitely don’t think anyone would have guessed athlete for me.

What is your role/job now?

I am a professional athlete, a double Paralympic champion, seven-time world champion and double European champion in wheelchair racing. I am a member of the Great Britain Paralympic Athletics Team, and a student at Coventry University.


To read more about Hannah’s inspiring journey and her involvement with our “Don’t Quit, Do It” campaign, please visit www.irwinmitchell.com/dont-quit-do-it. Join in the conversation @irwinmitchell #DontQuitDoIt