TALENTED young Wearside athletes have received grants to help them excel.
Sunderland Civic Centre played host to 14 youngsters and their families who were awarded cash from the Sunderland Sports Fund.
The £7,000 was given by the Sir Tom Cowie Charitable Trust, which stepped in after the city council withdrew support.
Sir Tom’s widow Lady Diana said: “Sir Tom’s charitable trust was his way to ensure that people of Sunderland continue to receive his support.
“The trustees of the charity were concerned to learn that, due to financial pressures, the city found itself in, it was no longer able to support the Sunderland Sports Fund.
“That we can step in and ensure that this vital charity continues to work for the benefit of young sports men and women, is exactly what Sir Tom would have done if he’d been here.”
One of the youngsters who collected her award from Sunderland Mayor Bob Heron on Wednesday was Alice Jewitt, from Silksworth. Alice 13, has been selected for the England karate squad and has just taken home a national gold in the children’s team kata event.
The Farringdon Academy pupil, who trains at least three times a week with Sunderland Sendai Karate Club, received £200. She said: “I will use it for travelling. I have to travel to Birmingham and Liverpool for training and competitions.”
Sports fund chairman Leslie Scott said: “Our aim is simple. We financially support young athletes to continue competing and fulfil their potential.
“If we can keep them going in their early career and get them on to the national scene, other bodies start picking up the cost”.
Robert Renton, from Washington, who competes for Sunderland and District Table Tennis Club, was awarded £200. Mathew Fearn, from Roker, a member of Coalfields Race Team, got £200 to help with costs of competing in the Duathlon World Championships in Spain in June.
Skier Hannah Hunt, from Ryhope, was awarded £200 to help with competition costs, while Sunderland Harriers sprinter Holly Lancaster, who is ranked number one in the North East, received the same amount.
Runner Oliver James, from Tunstall, also received £200 and siblings Joshua and Charlotte Weatherby, from Fulwell, were each awarded £150 to help with competing for St Chad’s and Ormesby Table Tennis Club.
Another Sunderland Harrier, Nathan Reed, of Hall Farm, received £200 to help him make his mark at a national level, while Jamie O’Donnell, from Town End Farm, a defending national champion with GKR karate, was awarded £300 to help him to the world championships.
Sam Light, who competes at international level with Sunderland Sendai Karate Club, was awarded £300, and Houghton Harrier Ben Mitchell from Fulwell, ranked sixth in England for pentathlon, received £200.
Dempsey McGeoch, from Washington, competes in gymnastics, acrobatics and tumbling for Northern Hope and was awarded £150, while Nicki McDermott, a member of Washington Judo Club, got £200.