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The Circle's Paddy Smyth: 'People tell me I've given disabled kids hope'

Paddy Smyth Image copyright Channel 4

"Being different is okay and I went on the show to prove that. It's really about trusting in yourself and loving yourself for who you are."

Paddy Smyth is £70,000 richer after winning the second series of The Circle.

But he says the money is not the highlight - that would be all the messages he's received as a result of being on the show.

"I've got so many DMs from people who have disabilities themselves or maybe their daughters or sons have it," he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"They've just said how me being on the show has given their kids hope.

"Some of the messages brought me to tears. You don't realise the impact you're having on people by just being yourself. I think that's lovely."

Image copyright Channel 4
Image caption Paddy was voted the winner by the other contestants on the show

The 31-year-old has cerebral palsy, which affects his movement and co-ordination.

Paddy says his inbox is full of people thanking him for using the platform to raise awareness about the condition.

"I know I've divided opinion. I went in there as myself, as a person with a disability, I went in there kind of selling those insecurities," he added.

The Circle is a Channel 4 show where "anyone can be anyone".

On it, a group of strangers stay separated from each other in different rooms for several weeks and can only chat to each other over a made-up social media platform.

Some players (like Paddy) appear to their neighbours as themselves, but others use photos of someone else and pretend to be that person to try and become the most popular and win the cash.

At first Paddy kept his disability from the other contestants but he says it made him feel as if he was hiding his true self.

But within 48 hours, he had told another contestant about his condition.

"It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, my disability doesn't define me, but it's a big part of me," Paddy adds.

The 31-year-old Irishman says in his day-to-day life people see him and immediately judge him because of the condition.

He said he initially thought he'd enjoy spending time without his cerebral palsy being a factor.

But the longer he stayed on the show, he felt hiding it wasn't the right thing to do either.

"I felt like I was being a bit hypocritical of myself, you know. It is an intense situation, but I absolutely loved every moment," he says.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Paddy Smyth alongside finalists Tim Wilson, Georgina Elliott, Woody Cook and James Doran

Paddy, who describes himself a social media influencer, says he's already had offers from charities and companies that want to work with him.

He was met by friends and family as he arrived back in Dublin after winning the reality TV show.

"It's been absolutely wild times, we had a party in my house that went on into the early hours of the morning. I'm still recovering."

Paddy says he's got lots of plans for the cash prize including giving a portion to his mum.

"I am definitely going to be vajazzle my crutches... whenever I'm on the red carpet I want diamond-encrusted crutches."

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