Fourteen-year-old swimmer Holly Hibbott from Southport (above, far right) received a £2,000 boost to her sporting career on Saturday when Sir Elton John CBE handed her a cheque from SportsAid to help her achieve her Olympic ambitions.
The donation is one of the first to come from SportsAid’s new Elton John Sports Fund after the charity raised more than £300,000 at an acclaimed concert by the artist at Stoke Park in June.
The fund will support some of Britain’s brightest prospects from more than 50 different sports by providing annual awards of £2,000 to help with essential training and competition costs.
Holly, who also trains with Stockport Metro, swam for Britain at last year’s European Youth Olympics and will be representing Great Britain at the European Junior Swimming Championships in Dordrecht in the Netherlands this week.
“It was a really good experience meeting Sir Elton John.” Holly said. “He was really nice to us all and gave us a few words of encouragement for the future. It feels great to be one of the first athletes to benefit from his support and to have someone who believes in my ability gives me a lot of confidence.”
She added, “The support will help me in lots of ways like travel costs, training equipment expenses and accommodation for when I am racing away from home.”
Elton John said, “It was a special moment to meet Holly and the other athletes. Their successes are already very impressive, and with a little extra help and recognition who knows what they could go on to achieve. They are the reason we were all at Stoke Park for the concert. Working with SportsAid, we know we are helping the right athletes at the right time.”
Holly was also inspired to meet Mark Foster, Karen Pickering, Duncan Goodhew – who have all benefited from SportsAid’s support – and Keri-Anne Payne at the event.
Before the concert began Keri-Anne said, “I’ve spoken to quite a few of the young athletes who are here tonight and it’s amazing to see what they feel when they are given SportsAid’s support. It’s the confidence it gives them that someone believes in them and that they are on the right track.”
Banner photo courtesy SportsAid/Ingrid Abery