Back to The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List 2018

Oliver Jack Jackson

Category: The 2019 Oliver McGowan Award for Sports, arts and entertainment

I can't believe I've won, this is amazing.

One young man’s life of kindness and kayaking

Oliver is 16 years old, he attends a special school and he’s a carer for his dad. Oliver is also a bright force in the difficult and competitive world he’s found himself navigating.

Let’s begin by telling you about Oliver’s passion – kayaking.

Oliver has dyspraxia, which makes him a little unbalanced, he also has learning disabilities and autism. While Oliver trains to compensate for this, he also has had to overcome challenges with social interaction.

While he attends a special school, his sport and fitness life is in the mainstream. He attends after school clubs, crossfit and competes in competitions alongside athletes without disabilities.

He sounds like a powerhouse doesn’t he? His coach certainly thinks so…

Competitions and trophies

Because Oliver loves kayaking, he takes as many opportunities to compete as he can.

He was the youngest person to win the 2018 Paddleability National Champions trophy in sprints, races and marathons.

He has dominated his sport for the last three years and continues to improve.

Positivity is the key

Oliver is still learning, and he will always have challenges to overcome.

He can be easily distracted and switch off, which can make learning difficult.

Competitions are also extremely daunting and take an emotional toll as well as a physical one.

But, while this affects him, he remains positive and rolls with the punches:

“It will not stop me…better luck next time!”


How does it feel to be a Learning Disability and Autism Leader?

“I can’t believe I’ve won, this is amazing, will it get me a new sprint boat ( £2500)”.

Oliver’s mum: “No Oliver it doesn’t. God love him!!!”


“Oliver is to be admired. He has found a passion and determinedly focuses on this is goes for it, not letting anything deter him. He accepts defeat with grace and this does not stop him from having the courage to try again and again. Oliver is very mature for his age and his perseverance is an inspiration to us all.” – Leaders’ List 2019 Judge

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