A group of 145 rising sports stars from Derbyshire - including 24 from Amber Valley - have shared a bursary fund of £30,000, which has been raised through Derbyshire Sport’s business network ICON.
This is the sixth year these awards have been made and the standard of the performers has never been higher. Many are competing for England or Great Britain and those that are not are part of recognised national development squads or part of club academy structures.
Each of the 145 athletes will receive a bursary of up to £300 to help them meet training costs such as travel, equipment, coaching fees or competition costs.
ICON was set up by Derbyshire Sport as part of the work to create a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Games in Derbyshire, and is now being backed by Belper’s Olympic swimmer Ross Davenport and Rory Slater, Derbyshire’s former 2012 Legacy Co-ordinator.
Ross and Rory have both been appointed by DerbyshireSport to encourage more links between business and sport in Derbyshire.
Ross Davenport, who retired from swimming after competing at the 2012 Games – his third Olympics, said: “I’m really excited to be involved with ICON, which is supporting some of Derbyshire’s most promising athletes. Each of them has the same dreams and goals that I had – to get to the top of their sport and be the best that they can be – and the backing which ICON offers can really make a difference. “
“Training and competing as an elite athlete can be really expensive, and also sometimes quite solitary, which is why ICON is a great scheme as it not only offers financial support but also a sense that local people are supporting you, following your progress and willing you to do well.”
Rory Slater said: “There was fantastic enthusiasm for the 2012 Games in Derbyshire and it was particularly nice to be able to cheer on local athletes such as Ross Davenport, cyclist Annie Last and wheelchair basketball player Maddie Thompson. With the support of ICON hopefully we will see many more local athletes competing on the world stage.
“There is a lot of work happening across the county and city to encourage more people to get active to improve their health, help more young people take up sport and support those with talent to reach their full potential, and ICON is a fantastic first step for businesses to get involved in this and make a real difference locally.”
All of the bursary recipients live in Derbyshire or compete for a Derbyshire-based club, and include sports performers from Amber Valley, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derby, Derbyshire Dales, Erewash, High Peak, North East Derbyshire and South Derbyshire. The group of athletes has been drawn from more than 40 different sports, including swimming, hockey, athletics, badminton, table tennis and cycling.
The list of athletes includes future Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, and those aiming to compete at future Commonwealth Games.
Cllr Carol Hart, Chair of Derbyshire Sport, said: “We are extremely thankful to all the members of ICON for supporting local talent, as without their help it would not be possible to award these bursaries.
“Derbyshire has a great wealth of sporting talent in a wide range of sports, and it is important that this talent is identified and supported. Those that have received a bursary have told us that the financial assistance really does help, and that the recognition the scheme gives is also a great confidence boost.”
Track cyclist Rosie Blount, who along with her sister Hannah is among the 145 athletes to receive a bursary, said: “I’m really grateful to have been awarded a bursary. I have to do a lot of travelling in order to train and compete and I also need specialist clothing and equipment, so this support is really appreciated. It’s also nice to know that me and my sister have been recognised locally for our achievements and that people are watching our progress and cheering us on.”
To find out more about ICON, or if you would like to become a member, please contact Rory Slater on 07885 885720.
ICON is supported by the following local authorities: Derbyshire County Council, South Derbyshire District Council, North East Derbyshire District Council, Derby City Council, High Peak Borough Council, Amber Valley Borough Council, Bolsover District Council, Erewash Borough Council, Chesterfield Borough Council and Derbyshire Dales District Council.
ICON members also include Active Nation, Benz Bavarian Ltd, Brampton Manor, Chesterfield School Sport Partnership, Community Sports Trust, Cooper Parry, Denby Pottery, Derby College, Derby County FC, Derby Telegraph, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, Derbyshire County Cricket Club, Destination Chesterfield, East Midlands Airport, Flint Bishop LLP, Geldards Genting Club Riverlights, Hampton by Hilton Derby city Centre, Holiday Inn Derby Riverlights, Innes England, International Golf Development, John Felix Films, Johnson Health Tech UK, Lonsdale Swimming and Sports Trust, Manx Engines Derby, Marketing Derby, Morley Hayes, Nuffield Health Derby Hospital, Orchid, Origination, Rolls-Royce, Smith Cooper, Spirit Medical, Technogym UK, Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd, University of Derby, webdna Ltd and Westfield Shopping Centre.