Two High Wycombe netball players and a young Gerrards Cross para-swimmer have each received a £1,000 grant from the Bucks SportsAid Foundation.
Seventeen-year-old Anya Wood, from Bourne End, and Razia Quashie, 18, from High Wycombe, both play for the town’s Clan Netball Club; while 11-year-old Max Tulloch swims with Chalfont Otters Swimming Club.
The awards were officially announced at a special Bucks Sporting Lunch Club event at Dorney Lake on Friday (May 20), where guest of honour was Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics gold medallist Amy Williams MBE.
Although exam commitments meant the two girls were unable to collect their award in person, Max and his mother Alice attended and Max was invited on stage to talk to an audience of around 140 local business people.
Olympian Amy, now a TV presenter and motivational speaker, talked about how she became part of the British Skeleton development programme while studying at Bath University, going on to represent Great Britain and win the Women’s Skeleton event, achieving Britain’s first gold medal an individual event at the Winter Olympics for 30 years, and the first by a woman for 58 years.
Speaking about the importance of having a strong support network, she said: “It all starts with your parents dropping you off at training, or at the airport. The biggest support you get is from family and the local community.
“That's why we're here today, to give support to help athletes bring home medals. To get an athlete on a team invariably comes down to support at the beginning from parents and any support that you can give to help give confidence to an athlete is paramount.”
A pupil at Beaconsfield High School, Anya has already been selected for the England U-17 squad, playing in the Netball Europe U-17 Championships in March, which England won. She now hopes to be selected for the U-19 training squad in September and to represent her country in the Commonwealth Games and the Netball World Cup.
“The grant will be a big help towards accommodation and travel for the training camps, which are mostly held in Loughborough, and also to buy new netballs and training kit to use at home,” said Anya.
Razia, who grew up in the Caribbean, is now a pupil at St Michael’s Catholic School in High Wycombe, joined Clan Netball Club aged 11. Training five days a week, aged 17 she was selected for the England U-19s squad and is now training with the England U-21 team.
Her goal is to be chosen to take part in next year’s World Youth Netball Championships and says the grant will be a big help towards her travel and training expenses.
Max, who specialises in 100m and 200m freestyle and butterfly, competes around the country and he is already part of an elite squad training to represent England. He recently took part an international para-swimming competition in Glasgow, where he competed with members of this year’s Rio 2016 Paralympics squad and achieved two personal best times.
His goal is to compete in the 2024 Paralympics and he plans to put the grant money towards additional coaching and travel to competitions. He is currently at Thorpe House School in Gerrards Cross, later this year he will join the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe.
The Sporting Lunch Club event, which is supported by local Buckinghamshire based businesses wishing to contribute to the success of the county’s top young athletes, raised £4,500 towards helping future young athletes.
John Brace, managing director of sponsor Harwood Hutton accountants and business advisers, said: “Nothing gives us greater pleasure than seeing an individual achieve their true potential, and we are thrilled to give Anya such a well-deserved boost. In this Olympic year, we hope more young Buckinghamshire sportsmen and sportswomen are inspired to reach for the stars.”
Fellow sponsors are solicitors B P Collins LLP, TSL, 2hWealthcare, Jansons Property, S&C Slatter, Evolution International and Leap.