Another top medal won by lifeguard Lee

FRUSTRATION and pride were the emotions experienced by Littlehampton's deaf footballer Lee Farrell as he brought home a silver medal from the European Deaf Football Championships.

The competition, which was held in Lisbon in June, featured teams from 12 countries battling to take home gold.

Despite winning all their other matches, the Great Britain team were thwarted by France in the final, losing 2-1.

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Lee, 24, from The Winter Knoll, works as a lifeguard at Littlehampton Swimming Centre despite being completely deaf.

He scored five goals in the tournament but could only manage to play five minutes in the final due to a groin strain.

Speaking to the Gazette, with help from his friend and colleague Andy Smith, who knows sign language, Lee said that the tournament was a great experience and one that he will never forget.

"We were upset to lose the final to France but we hope to win again and we won't give up.

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"The team had a lot of new players this year and they were very good. We always have to be positive and look to the future and the Deaflympics in Taiwan in 2009."

Lee, a former East Preston striker who now plays for Lewes, even had his own band of supporters at the tournament, his dad, brother and girlfriend were all there cheering him and the team on.

His international football career has already taken him to the 2005 Deaflympics in Australia where he helped the Great Britain team to gold with 11 goals as the tournament's top scorer, a contribution which helped him to become the 2005 BBC South Disabled Sports-man of the Year.

So when he was offered the chance to play for Team GB at the European Championships, he leapt at it, but struggled to meet the huge costs of taking part.

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He needed around 1,500 to pay for his flights, transfers, accommodation and food over the two weeks he was in Portugal and didn't have the money.

So the Gazette and Littlehampton Swimming Centre launched an appeal to help.

The response was nothing short of amazing.

As well as donations from customers at the swimming centre, other individuals and groups were busy either giving money or holding fund-raising events.

There was one group, however, which really stood out from the rest. Littlehampton's 50-Up Club, which meets at Project 82 in Wick Street, pulled out all the stops to raise half the money Lee needed to secure his place in the tournament '“ 750.

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Lee said he felt "proud and surprised" at this response from the public, especially the donations from customers at the swimming centre and the 50-Up Club's members, and hoped that they would help him again in to years' time at the Deaflympics in Taiwan.

He thanked everyone who had supported him and got him to the competition, especially Lynette Jones, customer services manager at Littlehampton Swimming Centre, who helped co-ordinate the centre's fundraising effort.

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