In a touching moment, British Paralympian hero and life peer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson met with Sellafield team leader Neil Brown.

Following a speech to nuclear site staff, the 11-time Paralympic gold medal winner was approached by Mr Brown, whose 11-year-old daughter Amy has spina bifida - the same birth defect, where the spine and spinal cord don't develop properly, as the Welsh athlete.

Emotions were high during their discussion. "Hearing her talk about it made me very emotional," said Mr Brown, from Gosforth. "For anyone with a disability it can be easy to feel isolated.

"She's just an inspiration, her story shows it doesn't have to be a disability, you can achieve whatever you want to achieve."

The baroness, 49, was in West Cumbria as Sellafield Ltd's special guest for an annual awards ceremony, held at Energus, Lillyhall, to celebrate the achievements of employees and the company's supply chain.

Speaking after her meeting with Mr Brown, a visibly affected Lady Grey-Thompson said: "It's really emotional.

"We were talking about stuff that happened to me and it's hard when you might not know some of the opportunities available to you in your immediate environment.

"In this environment, I don't often meet parents of disabled children, so we talked about some really practical stuff as well.

"It's the chance to talk to a parent and say 'look this is the stuff I went through' because my parents didn't really know anyone else with spina bifida.

"He was saying the same thing, so where do you learn from? If you don't know people around you who've got that condition."

During her presentation, the baroness told stories of her youth and the adversity she faced.

People told her parents she would never get a job, get married or have kids when they learned she was getting a wheelchair. "You're ending her life," they were told.

Lady Grey-Thompson, who is married to Ian, her coach, a research chemist and former wheelchair athlete, and has a daughter, became one of the world's top Paralympic athletes.

Her talk included a history of the Paralympics, from its origins in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, her career on the track and in the House of Lords and amusing anecdotes, including getting lifted to a London 2012 bid meeting in Singapore by Sir Steve Redgrave and David Beckham - one time she relaxed her rule on not being carried in her chair.

"I just wanted to be good at sport," she said. "I loved wheelchair racing.

"I loved everything about it, the training, competing, the camaraderie.

"Going to Barcelona [for the 1992 Paralympics], we got there late at night and there was one accreditation desk open and we arrived after 300 Americans.

"You're sitting on the floor with your mates, eating a box of Welsh cakes my mum had made me travel with.

"It's moments like that which don't sound that funny or good when you talk to other people about it. You just have these amazing moments with some really incredible people."

In Athens in 2004, Lady Grey-Thompson missed out on 800m gold, making a mistake which left her with too much ground to make up. She was advised not to take to the track for the 100m but returned to win gold.

Making the start line was her career highlight. "There were just so many people saying 'don't race, just leave'.

"I still remember the start of the race. It was at 6.03 and I was watching the clock tick, at 6.02 and 30 seconds they blew the whistle to call you to the line.

"I remember looking at the clock and, even now, I feel slightly sick thinking about it."

Her advice to anyone chasing success, whether in sport or business? Plan. "Planning is really boring, it's not anywhere near as fun as training but be clear in all the steps you've got to do.

"There's lots of little steps that build up and it's figuring out what them steps are. If you're not getting where you need to be, stop and change."

She also recommends honesty. "My training group were very honest about whether I was doing well or not. It's learning from what didn't go well and doing it better next time."

The presentation's aim was to explain that behind the "glamorous" gold medals and Paralympic races, there's a massive effort.

"In work, most of what you do is dull and boring but you've got to get through it for the moments where you get to change stuff, move the business on or do something which is extraordinary for you.

"At Sellafield, you're looking 100 years ahead and transforming the area and the business.

"There's probably people who've got views of Sellafield from 20 years ago, not what it is now.

"It's a bit like that being an athlete, people have got a view of you from that little bit they see of you, not what goes on behind."

Behind more than 30 world records, 16 Paralympic medals, six London marathon wins and a seat in the House of Lords, there has been a tremendous amount of hard work.

That work translated into inspirational success, which is crucial for children like Amy Brown and their families.