Heroes of grassroots sport and recreation celebrated at Alliance’s flagship awards

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh with winners at the Community Sport and Recreation Awards ()

The winners of the 2023 Community Sport and Recreation Awards were crowned this afternoon at the Alliance’s biggest-ever ceremony, hosted at Twickenham Stadium.

Around 160 guests were in attendance for the celebration, with Alliance President, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, on hand to present the eight winning individuals and organisations with their trophies. The award winners also each received a £1000 prize, which will help them continue their fantastic work moving forward.

Alongside a speech from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, guests heard from Alliance Chair, Dame Janet Beer, Alliance CEO, Lisa Wainwright MBE, and former England and British and Irish Lions rugby star Nigel Redman – who gave a fantastic speech about his life and career in rugby. This year, the awards were hosted by Sky Sports News presenter, Jasper Taylor.

On the morning of the event, His Royal Highness, alongside Alliance CEO, Lisa Wainwright MBE, and representatives from Alliance members Skateboard GB, London FA, UK Youth, England Boxing and Basketball England also had the opportunity to visit Heatham House, a youth centre close to the stadium, to see the amazing work being done in the local community.

Alliance Chair, Dame Janet Beer, closed the ceremony with the following words:

“It is vitally important to us that we continue to celebrate these initiatives that tackle huge societal challenges, from mental health to inclusion and sustainability. Sport and recreation are arguably unique in their reach, with people from a vast array of backgrounds and circumstances engaged with our sector, making it an incredibly valuable way to tackle societal issues.”

“I hope you will all join me in congratulating all the nominees on their fantastic achievements – winners and finalists alike have all done incredible work this year, and grassroots sport and recreation benefits immensely from their contribution.”

A huge thank you from everyone at the Alliance to all those who joined us to celebrate the amazing work of our 24 finalists, and a special congratulations to our eight winners.

Read on to find out who took home the trophies, and their fantastic achievements in the last year.

Community Club of the Year, sponsored by Equality Leaders – Crawley Rugby Football Club

Community Club of the Year 2023 ()

Crawley Rugby Football Club took home the Community Club of the Year trophy after their fantastic work over the past year.

The only community rugby club in Sussex to offer rugby to both able-bodied and disabled people, Crawley Rugby Football Club run 16 rugby teams for all ages – from three years old to adults – with four additional girls’ teams being built.

The club also has a relationship with Crawley College, where it delivers sessions throughout the year to students with additional educational needs, and a number of local charities. They support causes including: supporting adults with learning difficulties to get jobs, delivering Christmas meals to over 400 families on the poverty line and wrapping over 700 Christmas presents for local children, and offering their facilities for free to an Alzheimer’s charity to host meetings.

Diversity and Inclusion Award, sponsored by Play Innovation – Cycle Sisters

Diversity and Inclusion Award 2023 ()

Cycle Sisters were deserved winners of the Diversity and Inclusion Award as a pioneering organisation that has inspired and encouraged many Muslim women to get involved in cycling.

Since its inception in 2016, it has become the UK’s largest grassroots Muslim grassroots cycling organisation, with nearly 1200 women part of their network, and groups covering 10 London boroughs run by a team of 84 trained female volunteer leaders.

In the past year they have: set up three new groups across four boroughs, trained 36 volunteer leaders, run 266 rides with 426 unique participants, run a 100km challenge event with 50 participants, and participated in RideLondon events with 80+ participants. Rides that the group offers are free of charge, and bikes are also available for free through partnerships with local councils, ensuring cost is not a barrier to participation.

Going Green Award, sponsored by Sport and Recreation Alliance – Saunton Golf Club

Going Green Award 2023 ()

For their work in reducing their environmental impact over the past year, Saunton Golf Club received the Going Green Award.

They have: designed a detailed five-year Ecological Plan, naturalised their fairway bunkers, taking on more land to set up a turf nursery, growing wild and rare flowers on the site to help bee populations, installing solar panels, using hybrid mowers, having electric car charging points, and encouraging recycling on site.

They have plans for more solar panels in the future, alongside a host of other-environmentally friendly initiatives, moving towards a cashless site (meaning less need for banking) and paperless site, as well as using turf from the new turf nursery.

Inspiration of the Year, sponsored by Sport:80 – Hannah Crump (Stonebridge Golf Club)

Inspiration of the Year 2023 ()

After introducing hundreds of women to golf in her short time at Stonebridge Golf Club, Hannah Crump was crowned Inspiration of the Year.

She has collaborated with the Muslim Golf Association to deliver the first Women’s Muslim Golf Taster Day, as well as with Girls in Golf, who provide a warm environment for the LGBTQ+ community, and the Caribbean Golf Society. Through her work with the Muslim Golf Association, she has introduced 60 Muslim women to the game. She has over 100 women in weekly coaching sessions, and aims to keep growing the game every day.

Stonebridge Golf Club has been transformed since Hannah’s introduction – where before there were unlikely to be any women out on the course, now it is unlikely there aren’t any women playing.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Award, sponsored by Sport for Development Coalition – Burnley FC in the Community

Mental Health and Wellbeing Award 2023 ()

Burnley FC in the Community received the Mental Health and Wellbeing Award as a result of their brilliant work supporting children’s mental wellbeing.

The Schools’ Mental Wellbeing Project is one of Burnley FC in the Community’s flagship programmes – the aim of which is to support children’s mental wellbeing by having a full-time Mental Wellbeing Worker from the organisation in schools across Burnley and Pendle.

From January 2019 to February 2021, 4,457 hours of support have been delivered to 1,049 students. Numerous first-team players from Burnley FC have also been involved with the project, including Aaron Lennon and Ben Mee, which has helped to break down the stigma among the schoolchildren of talking about their mental health issues.

Resilience in Adversity Award, sponsored by Air IT – The Legion Community Boxing Club

Resilience in Adversity 2023 ()

After an extraordinary effort to transform their fortunes, the Legion Community Boxing Club took home the Resilience in Adversity Award.

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legion Community Boxing Club (then Hylton Castle and Town End Boxing Club) lost their home, and were forced to train outside while restrictions were in place.

When restrictions were eased, they still had nowhere to train, until they found a derelict building in Boldon Colliery – an old British Legion building (hence the new name), which was owned by a local couple who allowed them to use the space if they cleared it. The teenage children who were part of the club cleared out 15 truck-loads worth of furniture and rubbish, before the coach renovated it almost single-handedly for seven months, getting help only from specialist trades.

After this incredible renovation, they are now set to develop further and are putting plans together to create a Wellbeing Hub and Youth Club within the building.

Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by Join In – Khadija Patel, KRIMMZ Girls Youth Club 

Volunteer of the Year 2023 ()

Khadija Patel, who has been an incredible force for good in her community, volunteering for almost 20 years, picked up the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Khadija has set up local sports groups in cricket, football, netball, rounders, swimming and gym, which have been attended by thousands of people to date – currently over 300 a week.

She has also provided voluntary spiritual care, bereavement support, befriending and fundraising support, and her presence has been especially valued by those she has helped during the pandemic and current cost of living crisis. During this time, she has been compassionate to not only her club members, but colleagues, support volunteers and general community.

Khadija can be relied upon for support on a 24-hour basis, often taking calls and responding to messages in the middle of the night as part of her bereavement role.

Youth Development Award, sponsored by Fearless Women – Middlesbrough FC Foundation

Youth Development Award 2023 ()

For their amazing work in the community, Middlesbrough FC Foundation were the winners of the Youth Development Award.

Middlesbrough FC Foundation’s youth development offer ranges from free football in the community to reduce anti-social behaviour, to working with council youth offending and other departments to provide mentoring and physical activity, to a wide education offer across a large number of primary and secondary schools.

Their PL Kicks Targeted Project supported children and young people who had been criminally or sexually exploited, or those who were vulnerable to this significant harm. Wider PL Kicks sessions also took place in areas identified with Cleveland Police and Middlesbrough Council, and although they were predominantly football-based, other activities including golf and dance were offered, and 99% of participants stated they were more open to trying something new as a result.