SportsAid alumni Heather Stanning, Hollie Arnold, Natasha Baker, Callum Skinner, Pam Relph, Joe Clarke, Shona McCallin, Laura Unsworth, Susannah Townsend, Georgie Twigg and Crista Cullen will all be celebrating the charity’s 40th anniversary at the upcoming SportsBall having won gold medals at the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer.
The annual SportsBall, taking place on Thursday 24 November, will recognise the role played by SportsAid in supporting British sport over the last four decades while reflecting on the hugely successful Olympics and Paralympics experienced by Team GB and ParalympicsGB. All of the named athletes attending received support from SportsAid during their careers.
A number of silver and bronze medallists have confirmed with Frances Houghton, Richard Hounslow, David Florence, Phil Burgess, Toby Gold, Sally Conway, Emily Diamond, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita all coming. A host of British Olympic and Paralympic legends, many of whom were broadcasting in Rio, will descend on the London Hilton Park Lane too.
Previous SportsAid award recipients Denise Lewis, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Danny Crates, Colin Jackson, Shelley Rudman, Victoria Pendleton, Anna Hemmings, Chemmy Alcott, Zac Purchase, Gail Emms, Leon Taylor and Derek Redmond have all been to the SportsBall many times before and are returning to mark the 40 year celebration.
Tickets are still available for the SportsBall, sponsored by Eversheds and SSE, from £275 – you’ll enjoy a three-course meal, stunning live performances and the opportunity to try out different activities in a special sports fairground at this black-tie event!
SportsAid’s coveted One-to-Watch Award is presented each year at the SportsBall with Hollie winning the accolade in 2008 and Dina also nominated in the past. Hollie, just 14 at the time, had competed at the Beijing Paralympics just months before and was receiving help from SportsAid to support her with purchasing crucial javelin equipment.
"The confidence and recognition [of winning the One-to-Watch Award] did a lot for me,” said Hollie – who finished 11th in Beijing in the F42-46 javelin. “I didn't feel like I'd achieved [in Beijing] because I didn't do very well in my eyes as I am quite critical of myself. Winning that award was for my family too for all their input and hard work.
"The financial support from SportsAid was very crucial to me,” added Hollie, now 22, and the winner of a gold medal at her third Paralympics in Rio. “I couldn't have done without that grant and that help as it enabled me to buy javelins and equipment which I later used in London [Paralympics in 2012]. It had a massive impact on me.”
The importance of SportsAid's role supporting British sport was further re-affirmed during the summer when 150 medals (64 gold, 43 silver, 43 bronze) were won for Team GB and ParalympicsGB combined by previous beneficiaries of the charity's help including Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Laura Trott, Sarah Storey, Richard Whitehead and Georgie Hermitage.
The SportsBall will also be attended by SportsAid ambassador Keri-anne Payne, who competed at her third Olympic Games in Rio, and London 2012 gold medallist Anna Watkins. Neither Keri-anne or Anna received SportsAid awards but both have been big supporters of the charity's work for many years and are regulars at the SportsBall.
The SportsBall is being hosted at the London Hilton Park Lane for the second consecutive year on what promises to be the charity’s biggest gala dinner yet. The SportsBall has continued to grow in popularity with Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, SportsAid’s Patron, attending in 2013 to present the One-to-Watch Award to Amber Hill.
Tickets are being snapped up quickly so make sure to get your places secured now! The SportsBall gets underway at 7pm and finishes at 2am. You can visit www.sportsball.org.uk for further information. Please email Graham Dandy at SportsAid or call 020 7273 1977 for details of Presenting Partner opportunities.