A paralympic champion from Wirral returned to his former college for a special award ceremony honouring his sporting success.

The event, recognising Matthew Harding's sporting success, took place at Wirral Met's Oval Campus in Bebington.

Matthew is a world champion from Wirral who has amassed 45 gold and 30 silver medals for swimming and still holds the British record for the 50m and 100m breast stroke.

When Matthew stepped away from swimming to embark on a sport in Para Powerlifting in 2021, 22-year-old Matthew represented Team GB at the World Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia and despite it only being his first major powerlifting competition, he became 6th in the world and is now training for the next Paralympic Games in Paris 2024.

Matthew is a former sports student, who achieved the BTEC sport and exercise extended diploma in 2018 with double Distinction, Distinction.

In 2016, at just 16-years old, Matthew represented Team GB in the Paralympic swimming trials at Glasgow, showcasing his talent in the 50-metre butterfly, 50 metre freestyle, 100 metre freestyle, 200 metre individual medley and 400 metre freestyle.

During his time at College, Matthew also won the Association of Colleges' (AoC) Achievement in Disability Sport Award.

Matthew was presented with his award at Wirral Met by Principal Sue Higginson and mayor of Wirral, councillor George Davies.

Sue Higginson said: "We are so proud of Matthew and are delighted to welcome him back to campus to receive an award in honour of his amazing sporting career so far.

"Matthew's success shows that if you have a dream and work hard, you can achieve it.

"From swimming to powerlifting, we can't wait to see what's next for this amazing athlete and look forward to welcoming him back with more medals in the future!"

The Mayor, George Davies, said: "It is an honour to be here to congratulate Matthew on his success.

"He is a true inspiration and ambassador.

"The people of Wirral are extremely proud of him and this award goes some way to paying our respect to a young man who has achieved so much and we are sure will continue to do so."

Matthew is one of the college’s sports ambassadors and regularly visits the Oval campus to deliver motivational talks about the hurdles he’s faced in the competitive sporting world.

The Oval campus, dedicated to sport, outdoor education and public and uniformed services, gives students access to specialist facilities including a gym, athletics track, swimming pool, football pitches and tennis courts and are supported by industry-experienced tutors.