Children with disbailites and special needs from Thurrock scooped gold after winning a sports competition.

The Thurrock team, made up of students from Beacon Hill Academy in South Ockendon and Treetops School in Grays, were crowned Panathlon South of England multisport champions by the tiniest of margins on Monday. 

They finished level pegging on 50 points with last year's champions, neighbouring Barking and Dagenham.

But it was Thurrock who took home the gold medals, having won more events on the day overall. 

Runners-up at the final, which was held at Mark Hall Sports Centre in Harlow, were the Berkshire team, who earned 44 points, and North Suffolk who finished fourth with 24. 

All teams competed in events including boccia, polybat, new-age kurling, table cricket, field athletics and athletics races. 

All four teams had battled through several rounds of qualifying to reach what is the pinnacle of Panathlon's competitive calendar in the South of England. 

The charity gives over 13,000 young people with disabilities and special educational needs every year the chance to engage in competitive sport they are so often denied elswhere. 

Brandon Mullin, vice principal of Beacon Hill Academy - part of the victorious Thurrock team - said: “I have to admit we weren’t expecting that! We are very proud of everyone who took part. They always show great spirit, try their best and compete in the right way. 

“We have supported Panathlon for many years and the young people just absolutely love it. When we first started, we just took part, but now we are starting to compete with the other schools involved. 

“Some of the young people might not play sports when they leave school, so this is a great opportunity for them and a great chance to be part of a team and compete with other schools. 

“It was great joining up with Treetops. The students get a lot out of mixing with other schools and making new friends, while the staff can also create stronger links and take them forward.” 

Danielle Tracey, PE coordinator at Treetops School, said: “It has been great being in the same team as students from Beacon Hill. It has allowed our pupils to mix with other young people of all different abilities and needs. We have really enjoyed the experience."