National Awards Ceremony Celebrates Champions of Sporting Heritage

THE National Sporting Heritage Awards took place recently at Headingley Stadium in Leeds to celebrate those keeping the nation’s sporting stories alive.

The spotlight was on the people and organisations from across the country who were honoured for their work ensuring the nation’s sporting history is preserved, protected and promoted for future generations to enjoy, learn from and be inspired by.

Dr Justine Reilly, Sporting Heritage Managing Director said:

“Sport in all its forms plays a huge part in our society. Whether you’re a spectator, a loyal supporter, or participant, the history, heritage, life lessons and memories we take from it have a hugely important impact on so many people and diverse communities.”

These Awards were created to highlight the extraordinary activity taking place across the UK in the area of sporting heritage. Whether it be raising awareness of hidden and ignored heritage, uncovering and saving collections which would otherwise be lost forever, bringing stories of the sporting past to life and to new audiences, or increasing skills and knowledge through sporting heritage, these Awards demonstrate just what an incredible space sporting heritage is.

Dr Reilly added:

“The 2024 Sporting Heritage Award Winners showcase the wealth and breadth of work saving and sharing sporting heritage for current and future generations.”

Leeds North West MP, Alex Sobe and former Shadow Minister for Tourism and Heritage opened the event declaring the importance of sport and its legacy on communities across the country.

TV sports presenter, Tanya Arnold presented the 9 awards covering the categories:

  • Celebrating Black Sporting Heritage Award – Winner: Cardiff Bay Rugby Codebreakers
  • Recognising Sporting Heritage Volunteers Award – Winner: Victoria Baths Trust
  • Celebrating Disability and Neurodivergent Sporting Heritage Award – Winner: Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
  • Celebrating LGBT+ Sporting Heritage – Winner: Rainbow Toffees (official LGBTQ+ Supporters Group of Everton Football Club)
  • Celebrating Asian Sporting Heritage Award – Winner: Baji Bantams
  • Celebrating Women’s Sporting Heritage Award – Winner: Julia Lee and Professor Fiona Skillen
  • Celebrating Digital Innovation in Sporting Heritage Award – Winner: National Paralympic Heritage Trust
  • Celebrating Sporting Heritage in Schools Award – Winner: Eagles Foundation, Sheffield Eagles and Literacy Kicks
  • Celebrating Sporting Heritage Research Award – Winner: Lianne Parry

Humayan Islam from Baji Bantams who won the award for Celebrating Asian Sporting Heritage, said:  

“We are delighted to receive the award and hopefully this will inspire more women and the community to engage in sport. The South Asian Heritage Award is priceless to us and we would like to thank all our volunteers and team. “

Julia Lee, who was the joint winner, alongside Professor Fiona Skillen for the Celebrating Women’s Sporting Heritage Award added:

“We are so thrilled at Women in Rugby League to receive this award. Life with the Lionesses and now The Pioneering Years has been a labour of love, telling the stories and collecting the history of women in rugby league, which in the past was ignored.  The power of uncovering this hidden history has had such a positive effect on so many leaving a long-term legacy for women who had been forgotten now  feeling empowered and proud of what they have achieved to inspire this and the next generation.”

The Awards are organised by Sporting Heritage CIC, the UK-wide organisation responsible for supporting sporting collections and heritage. The Leeds-based CIC was recently awarded £249,281 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to grow its capacity over the next two years to support hundreds of volunteers and organisations across the UK who look after sporting collections, archives and stories.