The achievements of inspirational young people from across the district who have overcome adversity through sport, were recognised and celebrated at a special awards evening on November 30.
Over 300 people attended the Gambaru Adversity Awards at the Old Swan Hotel, and for Jonathan Walker, owner of Gambaru Fitness, and Mike Pywell, Life Coach and Business Consultant, who made the awards happen, it was an unforgettable evening.
Mike said: "The awards celebrated the real winners in our community, winners who are often overlooked. Too many of our young people beat themselves up because they 'aren't perfect', and our Adversity Award winners know they aren't perfect but they do not let that define them, or what they can do.
"Each of them has used sport to power through adversity, and their spirit and tenacity should be a beacon for us all."
Immy Smith-Dunn, a student at Harrogate's Rossett School, was presented with two awards at the glittering ceremony; winning an adversity award and also claiming the title of Girls Ambassador.
Immy was recognised for using sport, specifically netball, dance and coaching roles to overcome challenges that have had an impact on her mental health.
Immy said: "It is such a happy and emotional night. Firstly I would like to say a big thank you to the whole PE department at Rossett, and especially Miss Mooney for nominating me for this award and for being so supportive.
"I would also like to say a big thank you to Gambaru Fitness who run the awards, it feels amazing to be recognised, and the whole event was inspiring - especially listening to other people’s stories. I use dance as a release for my emotions and over the past couple of years I have used sports at school as a lifeline to get me through a difficult time.
"Dance helps me to express how I feel without having to say it, which can sometimes be difficult.
"It is a way for me to express what I am feeling without people asking me what is wrong, as the focus is on dancing not the emotions I’m feeling. Sports and dancing gives me focus and a reason to take care of myself so that I am able to do the things that I love.
"I think that awards like these are really important and remind us of the positive things around us and help you realise that you’re not alone."
Individual award winners:
Megan Wilcox, Fergus Moon, Lottie McGuinness, Harrogate Hotshots, Jamie Watson, Cameron Binns, Sarah Woodlands-Mooney, Tom Mudd, Katie Oates, Arran Simpson, Harrogate Hotshots; Sam McGuire; Immy Smith-Dunn; Beth Nesti; Will Browning; Abi Hammatt; Cameron Osburn; Clemmie Lumsden; Luke Marfell; Reuben Dunford, and Connor Maung,
Special award winners:
Lottie McGuinness, Harrogate Ladies College, Adversity Awards Winner
"Lottie swims for Harrogate HotShots and competed in the 2015 Paralympic swimming trials. Lottie also competed and won medals in multiple sports at the National Dwarf Games in Birmingham in 2016."
Cameron Osburn, Adversity Award winner and Boys Ambassador, Harrogate Grammar
"Cameron is living with cerebral palsy and has been studying the Indonesian Martial Art Silat since the age of four. He is now an adult black belt. He also plays for the Northern Regional cerebral palsy football team and has had trials for England."
Natalie Mooney, Adversity Awards Coach of the Year, Rossett School
"Sport is not just about winners for Natalie, it’s a vehicle that anyone can use to give their lives focus particularly during difficult times. Passionate about her pastoral role she sees the teacher pupil relationships as a critical factor in creative a supportive school environment."
Achiever of the Year, Jemima Browning, Tadcaster Grammar
"Jemima Browning won the special achievement award for setting up a disability swimming squad and a ‘Play Unified’ group at her school, Tadcaster Grammar, gaining funding for both initiatives. Jemima also successfully negotiated the application process to secure her and brother Will's election as GB representatives on the European Youth Activation Committee for the Special Olympics. They are due to go to Frankfurt next month for the first summit meeting."
Family of the Year - the Maung family
"The family’s resilience to facing childhood cancer for the second time inspired the judges."
Harrogate Hot Shots, Community Club of the Year
"Harrogate Hotshots are Harrogate’s specialist disability squad that operate out of Harrogate Hydro. It’s Richard Heselton’s ambition to grow the squad to be the largest in the UK and he’s made fantastic progress in the last few years."
Team of the Year, St John Fisher National Games
"St John Fisher took a team of eleven pupils down to the National Games at Stoke Mandeville in 2016. It had a major impact on their development and Adversity Award Winner Beth Nesti now represents the school at Table Tennis."
Immy Smith-Dunn - Girls Ambassador
"Immy is a shining example of someone who has used sport to overcome adversity."
After the awards, Jonathan Walker said:
"We have exciting plans for the future. We want to establish the charity as as a beacon for overcoming adversity across the region and are keen to talk to individuals and companies who would like to help it grow. Anyone who is interested can contact Mike directly on 0759 8929 976.
"We could not have done any of this without support. I would like to thank Lily Communications, CNG, Signarama and Nutrition Joes, as well as the Harrogate Advertiser and Stray FM for their media support."