Posted: Thu 13th Jun 2024

Inspirational Wrexham man on mission to become a carriage driving champion for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area

A sports loving computer whizz who has cerebral palsy is on a mission to become a horse and carriage driving UK champion.

Matt Palamarczuk, 39, from Gresford, is already on triumphant form after being selected to enter the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) National Championships in Hartpury, Gloucestershire, this summer.

He is one of just three riders whose names were put forward to go through to National level following stunning performances at the regional heat qualifiers at the end of April.

The heats were at the Shropshire-based Cavalier Centre where Matt regularly trains.

Matt, who works as an admin assistant at the Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham, has only been doing horse and carriage driving for a few years during which he has galloped through the rankings.

He is also a past winner the Promoting Fulfilled Lives Award at the prestigious Wales Care Awards and he has been on skiing holidays in the French alps

His success is no surprise to family, friends and his work colleagues at Pendine Park where he is known for his steely determination and winning smile.

They describe him as a “real inspiration” and say that when he puts his mind to something he goes all out to attain his dream.

Matt took up carriage driving a sport loved by the late Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the Special Riding Centre at Llanfynydd.

He said: “When they offered me the chance to do this I had no hesitation in saying yes and I’ve never regretted it. I love the sport.

“At first I trained with one of the centre’s instructors, John, who showed me all the basics. I was lucky enough to get to drive his own horse called Jack.

“Later they brought in my current trainer Ann Connolly who has been brilliant. I have learned so much from her and John.

“Also, the Cavalier Centre in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, has been amazing with me. I go there fortnightly and at weekends I train with Ann and her horse.”

Now that he is going to the National Championships on July 12 he will be putting in extra training including at Home Farm, Backford, near Chester, with another group he belongs to called Chester Driving Trials.

His willpower and determination to succeed is formidable. Despite his condition he worked to gain a Bachelor of Science degree in estate management, which helped secure him his job at Pendine Park.

He has also acquired an array of computer and IT skills and is an accomplished website designer. He and a businessman friend designed and created the website for carriage drivers with disabilities.

In addition to his passion for horses, Matt is a keen sports fan, and loves watching all kinds of sport, especially the Olympics.

After watching the 2012 Paralympic Games in London on television he fell in love with the game Boccia, a target ball game similar to bowls but for athletes with disabilities which have a major impact on motor neurone skills.

Matt is hoping to one day further his horse and carriage driving success story even beyond the Nationals.

He said: “Depending on how well I do at the Nationals, I will hopefully be invited to go and train at the David Broom centre in Crick, near Chepstow.

“I think I need to attend more local and national events and get grading and comment from judges before I even entertain the Paralympics. But it is definitely on the horizon. I’d love to get that far in the sport. It would be a dream come true.”

Matt thanked his employers at Pendine Park who he said had got firmly behind him in his riding ambitions and other activities.

He said: “I definitely owe a lot of thanks to Pendine owners Mario and Gill Kreft and also to the Pendine Park Training Academy Manager, Ann Serridge and the whole Academy team who have backed me throughout my training programme.”

Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said getting though to the Nationals tournament was a fantastic achievement by Matt.

He said: “Matt is a remarkable personality with an inner drive to succeed in whatever he does. If Manchester United players had his ratings they would be in the Champions League next season. We all offer him heartfelt congratulations and wish him the best for the next stage.”

RDA carriage driving coach Giselle Lockett, of the Cavalier Centre, said she had high hopes for Matt whose success so far was well deserved.

She advised him: “Well done and be proud of yourself, you’ve lots of time to develop but most of all enjoy enjoy enjoy!”

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