Ellie Simmonds encourages adoption of people with disabilities after Bafta win

Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds said “there’s so many people out there that need adoption, and need love, and need families” as she collected a Bafta TV award.

Simmonds, who was born with a form of dwarfism named achondroplasia, won best single documentary for her 2023 film titled Ellie Simmonds: Finding My Secret Family – which saw the athlete track down her birth mother.

The “shocked” gold-medallist said: “First of all, I want to say thank you to my parents, my mum and dad, and I wouldn’t be here without them and adopting me and also adopting my four other siblings and fostering as well. I love you.

“And also my birth mum as well at the end for meeting me and just having all those answers… I was so, so lucky that I got to have that ending of meeting my birth mum, but there’s so many people out there who sadly don’t get that ending.”

Simmonds used her acceptance speech to speak about fostering and adopting, which she described as “incredible”.

“If you want to adopt, adopt people with different disabilities, there’s so many people out there that need adoption, and need love, and need families.

“I’ve got my family and my extra family now,” she said.

Simmonds described filming the ITV documentary as an “emotional roller coaster” and a “journey”.

“I don’t know if you’ve watched it, I cry a lot,” the 29-year-old joked.

BAFTA TV Awards 2024 – London
Nick Underhill, Jasleen Sethi, David Thompson, Kathryn Jein, Colleen Flynn and Ellie Simmonds in the press room after winning the Single Documentary award for Ellie Simmonds: Finding My Secret Family (Ian West/PA)

She added: “I’ve had so many people reach out to me in the streets who have said, ‘I’m adopted, or I know someone who’s adopted’ and I think adoption is a subject that we don’t really talk about but it touches a lot of people.”

The retired swimmer also said she is unable to look back at the footage in the documentary of her writing a letter to her birth mother.

She added: “I can’t watch it now or think about it because it definitely makes me really emotional because you’ve got all these questions that you’ve had in your head for so many years and finally you get the chance to ask them.”

Simmonds came to national attention at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, where she won two gold medals at the age of 13. She was awarded the BBC’s Young Sports Personality Of The Year that same year and won another two gold medals at the 2012 Paralympics in London and one more at Rio in 2016.

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