11 May 2015
Twin grants for future Bucks sports stars
Promising Buckinghamshire sports stars Amy Jones and Georgie Whitaker each received a career boost this week in the shape of a £750 grant from the Bucks SportsAid Foundation.
Sixteen-year-old squash player Amy, from Amersham, already trains with the U17 England EDP Squads and is ranked 7th in the U17 age group; while hockey player Georgie, 17, from Marlow, is a member of the England U18 hockey squad.
The pair were presented with their awards by Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallist, and now TV presenter, former swimmer Sharron Davies MBE, at a special Bucks Sporting Lunch Club event on May 8 at Dorney Lake.
The sell-out event attracted an audience of around 150 local business people who heard Sharron talk about her career and the important role that SportsAid plays in helping up-and-coming sports stars of the future. It also raised £4,450 for SportsAid to help fund future grants.
Amy, who was only six when she began playing squash alongside her brother and father, and rose through county and regional rankings to achieve her first England EDP Squad selection at 13. Earlier this year, she was 6th in the U17 British Closed, while in December 2013, she travelled to her first major international tournament, coming 9th in the U15 US Open.
A pupil at Amersham School, she plays for Chesham Bois Lawn Tennis and Squash Club, and has already secured a scholarship to Wycliffe College in Gloucestershire, which has a reputation for producing world-class players thanks to its long-established squash academy.
“My ambition is to represent England at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 2018 and to compete in the World Squash Championships and the British Open,” said Amy. “The grant will go towards training equipment and kit and will be a big help, so thank you to Bucks SportsAid.”
Hockey player Georgie took up the sport aged nine, going on to play for Marlow, Wycombe and Reading hockey clubs. At 14, she was selected for the England U16 squad and in 2014 moved up to join the U18s, where the highlight of her career so far has been playing in the Five Nations Hockey Tournament in Nottinghamshire last July.
Training at least five days a week at Bisham Abbey, home to England Hockey, Georgie was recently chosen to join the development squad for the England U21 team.
“Playing in the Olympics is my ultimate goal, but it’s very exciting to be part of the development squad and I’d like to be in contention to play in the Hockey World Cup in South America at the end of 2016,” said Georgie, who is currently studying for her A Levels at Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Marlow, and hopes to take up an offer to study medicine at Oxford.
Thanking Bucks SportsAid, Georgie says she plans to use the grant to help with travelling expenses and a new hockey glove and shoes.
Welcoming Sharron Davies and the audience to Friday’s event, Steve Wilson from Beaconsfield-based 2hWealthcare, one of the sponsors, said: “We are delighted to be involved with SportsAid and assist with the sponsorship for Amy and Georgina, whose sights are fixed firmly on achieving success in their sport. There can be no greater inspiration to these and other talented young Buckinghamshire athletes than the legendary Sharron Davies, who first represented Great Britain at the Montreal Olympics in 1976 at the tender age of 13.”
Sharron, who won a silver medal at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and two golds at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, spoke of the pride she had felt after receiving a SportsAid grant at a young age.
“As well as the financial help, it was the fact that someone felt I was good enough to invest in me for the future,” she said. “SportsAid is so valuable, not just in supporting families with funding, but it shows girls like Amy and Georgie that we believe in them and it helps give them the incentive to train a little bit harder.”
The Sporting Lunch Club is supported by local businesses as part of a fundraising programme to help young sports stars of the future with training, equipment and travelling expenses.
Other sponsors are solicitors B P Collins LLP, Harwood Hutton accountants, Buckinghamshire New University, Television Systems Limited, Evolution International and Leap.