Cornwall's world champion Paralympic swimmer Jonathan Fox has heaped praise on the NHS for helping him to gold medal success.
The 19-year-old, who was born with Cerebral Palsy, officially opened the £20m Truro Health Park on Tuesday (21 September) and took the opportunity to recognise the support he has been given by health staff and his club.
Speaking to a distinguished gathering, he said: "I would like to thank the NHS and Newquay Cormorants for taking me from a hydrotherapy pool to a 50-metre Olympic pool."
Jonathan, who lives in St Stephens, took up swimming competitively at the age of 11 as part of his physiotherapy regime.
He was selected in 2003 for the British Swimming Disability Start Programme. In 2008 he was a silver medallist in the Paralympic Games in Beijing. In 2009, at the European Championships in Iceland, he won three gold medals in his backstroke and Freestyle races. This year, he won gold at the International Paralympic Committee World Swimming Championships in Eindhoven in the men's 100 metre backstroke event, also breaking the world record.
He is a regular member of the GB Team and is training for the London 2012 Paralympics.
His ability to overcome his disability through a robust health and fitness regime makes him an inspiration to others across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Jonathan, who was supported at the event by coach Phil Goldman, said it was great to see such a health facility in Truro and added: "I hope my achievements in the past and future will inspire other Cornish people with disabilities to follow in my footsteps."
Andrew Williamson, chairman of NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, welcomed guests, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Truro Ron and Jean Cooke and Rod Hulme, director of Community 1st Cornwall, which helped to deliver the project.
The health park has brought onto one site a whole range of health services including two GP practices, a pharmacy, podiatrists, emergency dentists, eating disorder specialists, and speech and language therapists.
Mr Williamson said he remembered the very first board meeting of the Primary Care Trust after it was formed in 2006 and the discussions about creating the health park.
He said: "It's very nice for us, having been at that first meeting, to be here now and to see what can be achieved through partnership."
He added: "If we were starting today to plan this in the current economic climate I suspect it would be some time before we would be here for the opening, so this is very, very good for the people of Truro."
The Mayor, who also took the opportunity to take a ride on the Smoothie fitness bike along with Jonathan, said he was impressed with the city's new health park and thanked everyone who helped to make it a reality.
He added: "We need to encourage people to be aware of their health, but particularly young people who often think that they are well and as a consequence take part in all sorts of activities that late on in life impact on their health."
The Mayor also undertook the official tree planting in the grounds afterwards.
For further information please contact Community 1st Cornwall LIFTCo