Across the world, sports stars are admired. Children and adults alike aspire to reach the level of expertise and dedication of the professional athletes. While it takes years to reach that level, the purpose of the 11th Annual MWR Lancashire Sports Awards is to recognise the hard work of the young and older alike. Rachel Wood explained that the purpose of the event “purpose was to stage an awards ceremony to honour the clubs, coaches, volunteer, schools and athletes across Lancashire who are excelling in their chosen sport.”
In order to bring together all these spectacular athletes, Wood needed a little help from the community. The entire awards show was sponsored by MWR Solicitors, which is based in Preston. Wood said that the individual awards were sponsored by the following organisations: University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Lancaster University, South Ribble Leisure, North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, MWR Funds4Clubs Scheme, Banks Wealth Management.
The sports awards not only honoured the athletes themselves but also “those who work tirelessly to support individuals or clubs week in, week out, for the love of sport,” according to Wood. The awards ceremony was only part of the night. Sporting goods were donated for a raffle. Wood explained that the “money from the raffle will be used to support the Lancashire Rising Star Fund, which provides financial assistance to Lancashire’s young amateur able-bodied and disabled sportsmen and women.”
Guests of the ceremony were some of Lancashire’s own sport stars. Wood said, “the guests included: GB pole-vaulter Holly Bleasdale, Olympic silver medallist Samantha Murray, middle-distance runner Helen Clitheroe, silver medallist and Paralympian Graeme Ballard, Canoe bronze medallist John Schofield, GB Swimmer Jack Bridge and former Preston North End footballer, Graham Alexander.” The athletes helped to present the awards as well as talked about the careers and experiences in the major sports arenas, including the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
In order to bring everyone together for the big night, Wood used local newspapers, the radio, Facebook and online marketing. Wood also spoke of her experience planning the awards ceremony. “I thoroughly enjoyed planning the Sports Awards Event this year. That constant nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten something never really leaves you in the run up but that is all out-shadowed by the knowing that you are planning an event that helps to recognise the exceptional work and effort people in Lancashire put into sport and physical activity,” Wood explained. She went on to say, “Another bonus is being able to liaise with sporting celebrities, hear about their stories and be inspired by their journey. If I was to give any advice I think it would be to not let everything get on top of you. Talk to colleagues about any worries you have and if you feel you need a second opinion on something then don’t be afraid to speak up. Stay calm, relax and don’t expend too much energy by worrying.”