The 2021 Access Sport awards celebrated the community sports clubs, volunteers and young leaders who have worked so hard over the past year to keep young people active and connected. 

Covid-19 may have stopped us being able to get together but it has not stopped our work with grassroots community sports clubs on the ground. On March 24 we held a virtual award ceremony to celebrate the community sports clubs, volunteers and young leaders who have worked tirelessly to support young people over the past year with creative and innovative ways to keep active, socially connected and mentally strong. 

Olympic legend Greg Searle MBE hosted the event and was joined by Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE to celebrate a year of lives changed through sport. 

Here are the award winners: 

Volunteer of the Year - Francis Bridgeman 

Francis is Club Captain at Tunbridge Wells Hockey Club and in 2017 launched the club’s inclusive Flyerz section for disabled participants. Launched in 2011 by Access Sport to make hockey more inclusive, Flyerz is a national movement which now counts nearly 50 hockey clubs all offering disability-inclusive participation – and Francis is one of our most passionate advocates. When the country went into lockdown in March 2020, Francis worked tirelessly to support his most vulnerable participants, immediately dropping off equipment to every Flyerz member, establishing online Zoom sessions and doing everything he could to support continued participation and social interaction from the home. These online sessions caught the eye of the national media and were profiled in The Telegraph and on BBC news, resulted in an England Hockey Innovation award, and attracted a host of celebrity participants including Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh and none other than Basil Brush!  

Young Leader of the Year – Josh Jones, Bruntwood Park BMX Club 

Josh Jones is a nine-year old BMXer who rides at South Manchester’s Bruntwood BMX club, part of Access Sport’s Making Trax Club Network.  Josh has high levels of anxiety which regular BMX cycling helps him to manage. In the summer of 2020 when sessions at Bruntwood resumed after lockdown 1.0, Josh found himself unable to participate on account of living in Oldham which was still under travel restrictions. Josh’s mental health began to deteriorate with him going without food and describing the feeling of having ‘dinosaurs in his stomach’. Knowing that many other young people were suffering in similar ways, Josh and his mother Charlotte launched a petition and lobbied local authorities to try to amend the guidance regarding young people and sport. The campaign was successful in persuading Oldham Council and British Cycling to revise their guidance on restrictions, meaning Josh and many others were able to ride outdoors again and improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing. 

Community Impact Award – Team100 Easton 

Team100 Easton is a group of 93 volunteers and supporters based in the Easton area of central Bristol. The group was formed by Access Sport in 2018 to make volunteering more representative of the community, bringing new skills and resources to local sports clubs – included coaching, photography and marketing. During 2020, when physical club sessions couldn’t take place, the volunteers proved to be a vital resource for the local community – not only did they take their skills-sharing sessions online, but in addition they packed and delivered meals to local residents who were shielding or isolated, and distributed information about other local services to those who weren’t online. 

Inclusive Club of the Year – Nova Sports & Coaching 

Nova Sports & Coaching is a non-profit organisation that delivers sporting opportunities to disabled people in Bath and Somerset. In 2020 Nova began working with Access Sport to set up a brand new Powerchair Football club and a new Frame Running club for disabled children in Bristol. When these clubs had to pause due to Covid, Nova immediately switched their focus and began making multi-sport equipment boxes to deliver to local families who were unable to exercise outdoors. The impact was instant and throughout the rest of 2020 Nova worked with Access Sport and other partners to develop a far-reaching home equipment and activity booklet delivery programme that ultimately reached nearly 2,500 homes. 

Thank You to our sponsor who made this event possible: