‘It’s hard to find a man so devoted to his family’

Martin and Thomas Holmes
Martin and Thomas Holmes
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Behind every Superkid there’s a super dad, as proved by Martin Holmes.

When I asked Star readers on Twitter if they knew of any inspiring dads to feature to celebrate Father’s Day this Sunday,

Karen Codling, who is chair of the Sheffield Smashers Boccia club, and club secretary Mark Dolan both thought that Martin was pretty amazing. PE teacher Mark wrote a tribute to Martin which you can read here.

Martin and wife Ruth are parents to Jessica, aged 23, who is married, Emmie (10) and Thomas, aged 15, who has cerebral palsy. They live in Heeley, Sheffield.

Thomas, who uses a wheelchair, was recently named as a Star Superkid for his sporting achievements. They include playing Paralympic sport boccia with Sheffield Smashers, who meet every Thursday at Pond’s Forge, Sheffield. Boccia is a precision ball game similar to bowls or petanque.

Martin said: “Boccia is a big thing in Thomas’s life so I became team manager. Because Thomas is so good at the game we needed somebody to keep him motivated and other people motivated as well. It’s nothing I’ve really done before.”

The club are hoping to set up a much bigger league in Sheffield.

Martin, who was overwhelmed to be singled out, said: “It’s a shock. It’s just something I do anyway. We’ve got a lot on as a family.

“It’s a continuous battle with everything for Thomas, getting everything he needs. We get there eventually.

“We’re a family that don’t give in. We keep battling.”

Martin has a very simple philosophy as a dad: “It’s just being there when you’re needed. Just listen and just be there when they make the mistakes.”

Here is teacher Mark Dolan’s tribute to dad Martin Holmes:

“Martin has always been an inspirational figure for his son Thomas Holmes, who was born with cerebral palsy 15 years ago.

From being born, Thomas has needed round-the-clock care and support from both Martin and his family.

Having known Martin nearly five years and worked with him very closely over this period, it is hard to find a more energetic and hardworking man who devotes his time tirelessly to his son and the rest of his family.

Martin has always fought for what he believes is right for Thomas in terms of his education and that is to be placed within a mainstream school.

Thomas went through three different primary schools before settling at Mundella Primary. After a hard-fought battle to get him into mainstream primary education, the same challenge arose for secondary school as well.

Martin battled tirelessly to get Thomas into a mainstream Sheffield secondary school.

Eventually the persistence paid off when Notre Dame agreed to take Thomas. Unfortunately at the last minute they pulled the plug on this move and Martin had to start again from scratch.

With a week to go before the summer holidays Martin had an emergency meeting at King Ecgbert School, who agreed to take Thomas.

Thomas has now spent four happy years at this school and Martin has had a huge part to play in those four years.

I had a very close working relationship with Martin and can honestly say that he supported everything I did with Thomas and played a big part in the shape of his son’s education within the school.

Martin has always wanted Thomas to achieve to the very best of his ability and he has supported me, the school and Thomas with tremendous energy and commitment.

Martin has always supported school trips and extra-curricular activities and provided us with last-minute transport when the school was unable to transport Thomas, this helped us tremendously and allowed Thomas to participate in the activities with everyone else in his class.

Then Martin helped us put a bid together to get our school minibus converted into one that had specialist wheelchair access via a tail lift and clamping system. Once the minibus was up and running, we set up swimming sessions at Talbot Specialist School and through the use of the minibus this made it a lot more accessible for everyone.

Martin then joined us and helped us with the swimming sessions on a weekly basis.

Martin has played an influential role in the development of his son’s sporting ability through the Paralympic sport of Boccia. Thomas was first introduced to Boccia in secondary school and through the support, guidance and commitment of Martin and his family Thomas has gone from strength to strength.

Martin has always encouraged Thomas to participate and this has meant him taking him to fixtures all over the country during school time and at weekends, allowing Thomas to enter as many competitions as possible.

In order to progress further, Martin spent £1,500 on new equipment for Thomas to enable his progression. Through the backing of Martin and his family, Thomas has now won a number of competitions and is also a Sheffield Star Superkid.

On top of supporting Thomas, Martin is a founder member of the Sheffield Smashers Boccia Club and has recently been designated the league fixtures manager for the club.

Martin is also a qualified coach in Boccia and works very hard with a really low ability group with a number of different needs.

Martin has worked tirelessly for the club both in a coaching capacity and behind the scenes. Ruth, Martin’s wife, is also the designated club safeguarding officer.

The whole family have put in a huge amount of commitment and time to ensure that the club is going from strength to strength.

Martin works extremely hard for his family and not only is he Thomas’ full-time carer but he also works doing several different jobs.

Martin has worked tirelessly around the clock for many years including both home life, looking after Thomas, owning his own business and part-time jobs.

Martin hasn’t stopped there though, he is now employed to look after vulnerable adults with learning difficulties on a part-time basis whilst Thomas attends school.

Martin never rests and is always trying to help others.”