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Born with a serious congenital heart condition, James had open heart surgery for the first time at just eight days old.

His second operation shortly after his first birthday left him with significant weakness down his right-hand side when he suffered a stroke while in recovery.

James is now an energetic 16-year-old, but his medical history has left its legacy – he wears splints to support his right leg and hand and he has developed epilepsy. As a pupil at Chadsgrove School for children with Special Educational Needs, James loves practical activities.

When James’ school signed up for the 'Grow & Learn’ programme at Thrive, offering 14 to 19-year-olds the chance to study for a horticultural qualification, he was keen to join.

James loved it and under the guidance of the horticultural therapy team he has achieved the City & Guilds Level 1 in Horticulture and was offered the opportunity to help design and construct an award-winning garden at BBC Gardeners’ World Live along with the other Thrive students.

James and his classmates all live with a variety of disabilities but with the help of a Horticultural Therapist who adapted the tasks and techniques to meet their individual needs it means they can garden and even design and build a show garden!

James’ enthusiasm for gardening has been infectious and his mum, dad and grandad have helped him to create a vegetable garden at home.

James’ mum says that he has gone from being fairly quiet and shy to showing real confidence in his abilities and is looking forward to finding his first paid job.

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