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Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 17:33 UK

Unsung Hero bursary stories

Sports Personality of the Year
Venue: Liverpool Echo Arena Date: Sunday, 14 December Time: 1900 BST Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 Live & BBC Sport website.

Margaret Simons, the founder of Bardwell Football Club in Bicester, was picked from the BBC's 15 nations and regions as the 2007 BBC Sports Unsung Hero at the Sports Personality of the Year show.

Although Margaret won the overall prize, both she and the 14 other winners received a 2,500 bursary, supported by Robinsons, which they were eligible for in order to benefit and further the work each they have been doing to help sport in their community.

Here is what they did with their bursaries:

Billy Beck
Billy Beck
South East

Billy used his 2,500 to buy a huge range of equipment for his club, Brompton Boxing Club.

This included 30 exercise mats, boxing gloves, mitts, head guards, skipping ropes and club tracksuits.

He put the remainder of their money towards the running of the club's minibus which is used to pick up and return the boys safely from all training and competitions.

Tony White
Tony White
South West

Tony spent his bursary on a variety of equipment for his club, Exeter Harriers, and major improvements to the athletics clubhouse.

He will use the money to upgrade the facilities and convert the area into comfortable seating space for athletes and relatives - this will also make more space for athletes to train indoors.

Tony said: "I am delighted that this bursary can contribute towards improvements of the club which will benefit everybody involved and the new equipment will help to give us more variety in training and develop special skills in young athletes which is fantastic."

Paul Webb
Paul Webb

Paul works at Hockwell Ring and Marsh Farm Amateur Boxing Club.

He spent his bursary on the hire of a venue from Monday to Friday for their training sessions and equipment such as gloves and skipping ropes for all participants.

Paul said: "This bursary will help us to sustain the good work we do and the new materials will be a huge benefit for all users of the club."

Nina Walker
Nina Walker
East Midlands

Nina spent her bursary on equipment and venue hire for their Annual Day of Sport - a day which gives people with disabilities the chance to have a go at a wide range of sports from climbing to cricket and skittles to football.

She also used some of the money to buy equipment such as floats for Shepshed Disabled Swimming Group's weekly swimming sessions.

Nina said: "This bursary has made an incredible difference to us as a group. It will enhance the quality of activities we are able to provide in the future and it enables us to meet the needs of our users and the 500 plus Day of Sport participants."

John Palmer
John Palmer

John is the head cricket coach at Lewisham Sports Academy.

He used his bursary to buy 50 outfits for the district players and he used the rest of the money to hire a venue where beginners and improvers could play softball cricket.

John said: "The tops with their Unsung Hero logo on are really motivational as it shows that all the hard work does not go unnoticed and the venue hire enables us to increase participation at grass roots level which is brilliant."

Jules Cook
Jules Cook

Jules spent her bursary of 2,500 on running costs for the training facility used by her club Bristol Central Girls FC and matchday pitches for the next two years.

She also put the money towards vital equipment such as balls, bibs and cones.

Jules said: "This bursary takes the pressure off the club financially because we heavily subsidise players. It will also encourage girls within the community, for whom money is a barrier, to get involved which is great for the club and sport in the area."

Margaret Simons
Margaret Simons

Overall winner Margaret bought a huge range of equipment for her club Bardwell FC, including match balls, training balls, 30 team kits, substitute kits and managers jackets.

The new kits are to be used by all of the under-7, under-8 and under-9 teams and the other equipment is to be shared between all teams.

After winning the award, Margaret said: "I'm honoured to accept the award and I think I might like the England coach's job."

Andrew Grey
Andrew Grey

Andrew coaches at Milford Haven Gymnastics club. Andrew used his bursary to buy a quality music system for the gymnastics hall to be used by all of the gymnasts for their floor work and sports acrobatics.

He also purchased club leotards and kit for the gymnasts to wear when taking part in regional and national competitions.

Andrew said "The whole club will benefit from having a music system and it can only enhance performance which is a great thing to be able to do.

"We have also been able to buy leotards which will give the club an identity on a regional and national basis, therefore raising the profile of gymnastics in our area and encouraging others to be involved in the sport."

Jim Lay
Jim Lay

Jim is the head coach at St Maurice's Basketball Club in Cumbernauld.

He spent some of his bursary of 2,500 on facilities for in school coaching allowing them to undertake a programme of basketball tournaments.

He spent the rest in a variety of ways, including volunteer training courses in coaching, materials for an award scheme and a range of equipment such as new basketballs of a variety of sizes, ball carriers, ball bags and officiators T-shirts.

Jim said: "As a club, our objectives are to introduce children to basketball and increase the activity levels of children in our area whilst also increasing the knowledge of teachers and coaches involved. This bursary has enabled us to do this whilst increasing the sustainability of the club."

Michael McGreevy
Michael McGreevy
Northern Ireland

Michael is a coach at Dromore Athletic Club.

Michael's bursary bought his club new equipment for running, discus, high jump, javelin and hammer and paid for coaching courses for staff at levels 1 and 2.

Kevin Conway
Kevin Conway

Kevin runs Hemsworth Miners Community FC. He used his bursary to buy new equipment and to purchase an on-site storage unit to keep all of the equipment safely locked away.

Kevin said: "Space at our venue is very limited and at the moment we have to take equipment home with us.

"This has given us the opportunity to not only buy new equipment for the club but to also store it safely on site making it more accessible. The new equipment will also aide participants in reaching their maximum potential."

Brian Buck
Brian Buck
West Midlands

Brian from Sandwell Amateur Speedway Club spent his bursary of 2,500 on shale to improve the track at his club.

Denise Woollard
Denise Woollard
E Yorks & Lincs

Denise spent her bursary on kitting out her blind ten-pin bowling team, Foresight, in Grimsby.

She purchased playing equipment, footwear and club shirts.

Denise said: "Before buying the new equipment it was difficult to ensure that the teams were playing with the correct shoes and bowling balls, but thanks to the bursary, standards of play have improved and the risk of injuries has been reduced.

"The new kit and equipment has given the team a new identity and has lifted spirits at the club."

Keith Everitt
Keith Everitt
North East

Keith runs St Francis 2000 - a mixed football club in Hartlepool.

He spent his bursary on a range of equipment essential to running the club and increasing the number of coaching sessions for the teams. He bought footballs, cones, bibs and training aids.

Keith said: "The new equipment allows us to run more training sessions with the kids, which gives more young people in the area the chance to play."

June Kelly
June Kelly
North West

June manages Abraham Moss Warriors Football Club in Manchester. She invested her 2,500 bursary in minibus hire, team-entry fees to tournaments and footballs.

Her teams of both 11-a-side and 6-a-side children from under-8s to under-18s have since been able to play in local and regional tournaments, something they have not been able to afford to do in previous seasons.

June said: "The money has enabled the children to play competitive football for the first time, which has given them the ambition and drive to do well and has brought a sense of purpose to their training sessions."

see also
BBC Sports Unsung Hero award
06 Oct 08 |  Inside Sport
Nominate your regional Unsung Hero
08 Oct 08 |  Sports Personality
Bursaries for Unsung Heroes
16 Sep 08 |  Sports Personality
Unsung sporting heroes
09 Dec 07 |  Sports Personality


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