Brentwood: Fundraiser For African Heroes

Pupils at the Brentwood School are fundraising today for Paralympians from an African country you've probably never heard of.

They "adopted" the team from Burkina Faso after they arrived here in early August with little money, no accommodation and nowhere to train.

The two athletes, who share one hand cycle, became a regular sight racing around the School running track, supported by two training staff and a physiotherapist.

The story of the five-man team has hit the national headlines and tugged at heart strings across the globe.

Their plight also struck a chord with School staff and pupils who will be dressing in the Burkina Faso colours to raise much-needed cash.

The team ended up in Brentwood after 24-year-old Liam Conlon - who expected to meet and greet the team at Heathrow and take them to their accommodation - found the forlorn group stranded after a mix up over their funding.

Liam took the three male team members home to his mum and dad and the two women were welcomed by nuns to the Grange in Brentwood.

He then turned to Brentwood School, which was a training venue for the Olympic modern pentathlon, for its support.

Headmaster Mr Ian Davies said: "It has been an honour to open the School's facilities up to such courageous athletes and their support team. Pupils are now very knowledgeable about Burkina Faso and will be cheering on both Team GB and their new African friends.

"We have been so inspired by the team's dedication and spirit. We would like to play our part in the Olympic legacy by raising enough funds to ensure that Burkina Faso arrive in Rio in 2016 in much better shape than they did for these Paralympic Games."

African champion Kadidia Nikiema competed in the women's H4 Road Race over 48km and her compatriot Lassane Gasbeogo took part in the men's 64km H4 Road Race.

Trainer Florentine Ouedraogo described Brentwood as "a beautiful town" whose people were "particularly kind and welcoming."

In return, this small dedicated band has inspired a future generation who will live long in the hearts and memories of everyone who witnessed their spirit.