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Top athletes from Suffolk praise work of sports charity on 10th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 06:00 20 December 2017

Double Commonwealth gold medalist Chris Walker-Hebborn pictured in 2010 the year he received support from SportsAid Suffolk

Double Commonwealth gold medalist Chris Walker-Hebborn pictured in 2010 the year he received support from SportsAid Suffolk

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Top sportsmen and women in Suffolk have praised the work of SportsAid Suffolk which has helped them further their careers as it marks its 10th anniversay today.

Northampton Saints star and SportsAid Suffolk recipient Lewis Ludlam.Northampton Saints star and SportsAid Suffolk recipient Lewis Ludlam.

It was launched as part of the county’s ambition to secure a legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The purpose was to raise money to support the next generation of sportsmen and women from Suffolk who ooze talent but are not yet at an age or level where elite funding is an option.

And over the 10 years of its inception it has distributed over £175,000 to support dozens of disabled and non-disabled athletes with the costs of training and competing at national and international level.

Before they become a household name, an elite sportsman or woman will spend 10,000 hours and thousands of pounds pursuing their dream. Many are forced out long before it comes true.

Suffolk golfer and SportsAid Suffolk recipient Lily May Humphreys pictured with her trophy after winning the Henry Cooper Masters.Suffolk golfer and SportsAid Suffolk recipient Lily May Humphreys pictured with her trophy after winning the Henry Cooper Masters.

The awards aren’t mind blowing, between £500 and £1,000 a time, but they are far reaching and make a huge difference to young stars who, in the main, receive no other funding.

Northampton Saints and England Under 20 rugby star Lewis Ludlam said: “SportsAid helped me massively during my academy days, helping me fund my travel expenses to Northampton every week, not only this but helping me with the cost of kit and supplements ... without the help of SportsAid I wouldn’t be in the position I am today.”

His sentiments are echoed by Lowestoft boxer Joe Kerrison who said: “SportsAid has been the foundation of my boxing career, allowing me to utilise my passion and potential by travelling the country - and the rest of the world - to compete in major tournaments and progress ever-further in the sport I love. SportsAid has helped to lift a heavy burden from my family and myself by providing the required resources to train and perform at an elite level.”

The list of those who have received help from SportsAid Suffolk is a roll-call of the best athletes Suffolk has produced in the last decade.

Young rugby player and SportsAid Suffolk recipient Connie Powell in action against Wales at the 2017 School Games.Young rugby player and SportsAid Suffolk recipient Connie Powell in action against Wales at the 2017 School Games.

It includes hockey star Harry Martin, who has over 170 senior international caps and was one of the first people to be supported by SportsAid Suffolk; boxer and Olympic silver medallist Anthony Ogogo; powerlifter and double Paralympic bronze medallist Zoe Newson; double Commonwealth swimming Gold medallist Chris Walker-Hebborn and World Under 20 race walking champion Callum Wilkinson.

Three young athletes that have been supported by SportsAid and are tipped for great things are squash player Lucy Turmell, golfer Lily-May Humphreys and para swimmer Jordan Catchpole.

SportsAid Suffolk was established by Suffolk County Council as part of the county’s ambitions to secure a positive legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Suffolk basketball player and SportsAid Suffolk recipient Maya Price in action for Great Britain against Poland at the 2017 European Championships.Suffolk basketball player and SportsAid Suffolk recipient Maya Price in action for Great Britain against Poland at the 2017 European Championships.

It was supported by Suffolk Sport. However, its success at raising and distributing funding can be attributed to the contribution from a range of local businesses who see supporting talented local sportsmen and women as important.

They include Pound Gates Insurance, Ensors Chartered Accountants, Handlesbanken, Ellisons Solicitors, Concertus, StrateiQ, Picasso HR, Abbeycroft Leisure and Lovewell Blake.

Regional director for SportsAid Roger Fennemore, said: “Without the contribution that businesses like this make to our fundraising efforts we wouldn’t be able to help many of these super talented young people from Suffolk.”

On average, SportsAid Suffolk supports 20 to 25 young athletes a year, each with aspirations to reach the pinnacle of their sport.

Lucy Turmell pictured with Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards after receiving a grant at a recent Ipswich Lunch Club fundraising event.Lucy Turmell pictured with Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards after receiving a grant at a recent Ipswich Lunch Club fundraising event.

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