Lau Wai-cheung's dream of becoming a lifeguard was extinguished tragically in a 2002 diving accident which left him paralysed from the neck down. But yesterday the 16-year-old - who prefers to be called 'Cheung-tsai' or 'Little Cheung' - was able to realise part of his dream when he was awarded honorary membership to the Hong Kong Life Saving Society. His story is one of courage and determination in the face of seemingly hopeless odds, battling the crippling injury he suffered after diving into the sea in Repulse Bay not realising the water was shallow. Yesterday, Cheung-tsai, who was a beneficiary of last year's South China Morning Post Operation Santa Claus charity drive, said he was thrilled by the honour. 'I am very glad and it is a form of encouragement to me,' he said. The society, responsible for the professional qualifications of lifeguards in Hong Kong, said he deserved the award because of his determination and courage. 'We usually offer the honorary membership to those people who either have saved someone's life in an accident or have made a great contribution to our association,' said chairman Anthony Chan Wai-lun. 'We are offering this honorary membership to Cheung-tsai because of the way he has dealt with his disability. This can be inspirational for every one of us.' Although Cheung-tsai cannot be a lifeguard, he has a new dream. He plans to turn his love of conversation into a career in psychology.