The BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero Award | Who are your Local Sports Heroes?

The nomination period for the 2016 BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero Award is set to close on the 23 October 2016, so if you know an inspirational sporting volunteer in your area who deserves to have his or her hard work acknowledged, you’ve still got time to do something about it.

The Unsung Hero award programme has been running for fourteen years now, but if you haven’t heard of it before, don’t worry. Just read this short guide to find out more.

The BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero Award – What’s It All About?

The BBC’s Unsung Hero Award has been in existence since 2003. The programme was designed to recognise the efforts made by the volunteers throughout the UK who encourage and help others in their communities to take part in sporting activities.

Every year, the public are offered the chance to nominate deserving sports volunteers in their area. Local winners are selected by judging panels in each of the fifteen BBC regions: London; South East; South; South West; East; East Midlands; West Midlands; West; Yorkshire; Yorkshire/Lincolnshire; North East/Cumbria; North West; Scotland; Wales; and Northern Ireland.

A national judging panel then chooses the overall winner from the fifteen regional winners, and the result is announced live during the prestigious BBC One Sports Personality of the Year TV show. This year, the awards ceremony is due to take place in Birmingham, on Sunday 18 December.

When picking the Unsung Hero award winner, the judges consider criteria such as the impact that the nominees have made within their communities, the number of people that they have helped to participate in sport, and the sacrifices that they have had to make in order to carry out their voluntary work.

When this year’s awards were launched, Sharon Fuller, Project Lead for Get Inspired, said:

“Every week there are thousands of people from across the UK who work with little or no support but continue to play a vital role in encouraging their local community to take up sport. This is your chance to give that person the recognition they deserve by nominating them for the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero Award.”

Previous Winners of the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero Award

The first ever winner of the BBC Unsung Hero award was Nobby Woodcock, from Newport, in South Wales, who was 63 years old at the time. Nobby founded the Real Bettws Football Club for the children on the Bettws estate, where he lived. The club expanded rapidly and, by 2003, when he received his award, he was looking after eight teams.

“Winning the award was out of this world”, he told the BBC. “But it’s not just about me. It’s a close-knit community and there are lots of people who help me out.”

Other winners over the years have included Val Hanover, from Shropshire, an organiser of Special Olympics events for athletes with learning difficulties, who was presented with the award in 2006, and Ben Geyser, who set up Dorchester Boxing Club, and who received the trophy in 2008.

Last year, the award went to Damien Lindsay, from West Belfast, who founded the St. James Swifts Football Club in a deprived area of the city.

“There are people in our team who would have been in jail were it not for Damien,” Joseph McCall, a member of the club, told the BBC.

The Get Inspired Programme – Helping People to Get Started in Sport

The Unsung Hero award is part of the BBC’s Get Inspired initiative, a nationwide endeavour to inspire the public to take part in new sporting activities.

The programme’s dedicated section of the BBC Sport website includes a wide range of resources, including guides to different sports, hints and tips videos from leading sportspeople and an activity finder, so you can see what’s going on in your area. You can find details of how to nominate someone for the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero Award there too.

Are you a sports volunteer? Did a volunteer inspire you to take up or continue with your chosen sport? Tell us your story in the comments section, or chat to us on Facebook or Twitter.