Northern Ireland

Ballymoney boy Thomas Woodrow meets childhood hero Pat Parelli

Thomas Woodrow's wish to meet US-based horse trainer Pat Parelli came true at the Dublin Horse Show Image copyright RDS
Image caption Thomas Woodrow's wish to meet US-based horse trainer Pat Parelli came true at the Dublin Horse Show

A 12-year-old County Antrim boy, who has been disabled since birth, has had his dream come true after meeting his hero.

Thomas Woodrow, 12, from Ballymoney, has spina bifida, hydrocephalus, epilepsy and he uses a wheelchair.

His biggest passion in life is caring for ponies and he has been a long-time fan of US horse trainer Pat Parelli.

The charity, Starlight Children's Foundation, arranged a meeting between the pair at Dublin Horse Show.

Mr Parelli told BBC Radio Foyle that his own son was also born with hydrocephalus and doctors told them he would neither walk nor talk.

However, he defied the odds.

"When he was 12 he had a stroke, he lost everything on the right side," Mr Pirelli said.

"But now, everyday he rides horses... and drives everything on the ranch.

Horse behaviour

"Thomas here had a wish, we heard about it in the United States and that's one of the main reasons we came over here."

Starlight Children's Foundation grants 'magical wishes' to children and young people with life-threatening conditions.

Pat Parelli rose to fame more than 30 years ago offering advice and observation of horse behaviour, psychology and communication.

Thomas said the meeting "means a lot".

"I've always watched him on TV and wanted to meet him. It is the way he trains the ponies," he said.

"I really enjoyed meeting him."

Pat Parelli had one piece of advice for Thomas.

"There are two types of people in the world, the ones that pull back and the ones who push forward," he said.

"In life, we have to keep our dreams alive and our passions alive."