The shortlist for the London Sport Awards 2024, supported by the City of London Corporation, have been announced today celebrating the unsung heroes who are improving the lives of Londoners through sport and physical activity.
The shortlist for the eighth edition of the Awards sees 28 nominees announced across ten categories including an array of community volunteers, grassroots teams, health and fitness clubs, elite sports organisations, businesses, and charities.
With a record-breaking 415 nominations received, the shortlist was chosen by a panel of expert judges including representatives from Sport England, London Youth Games, London Marathon Events, Decathlon, Deloitte, the City of London Corporation, and past London Sport Awards winners.
Thanks to the generous support of the City of London Corporation, the London Sport Awards ceremony will once again be held at the historic Guildhall in March 2023. The event will celebrate the inspirational stories of these finalists and their work through powerful films and photography created by students from Ravensbourne University.
Anne Wafula Strike, MBE, Paralympian and London Sport Awards judge said: “All the individuals and organisations that have been nominated have played such an important role in supporting underserved Londoners get and stay physically active.
With so many Londoners facing the challenges of inequality and inactivity, it is incredibly inspiring to see how the unique spirit of London can still thrive. Each and every nominee on this list should hold their head high as they continue to play their part in improving the lives of Londoners through sport and physical activity.”
The shortlist for one of the most prestigious categories, Volunteer of the Year, includes Allan Cockram who set up Brentford Penguins Football Club for children with Down Syndrome over six years ago. Many community football clubs offer pan-disability training sessions, but Allan identified children with Down’s were not always given the attention they needed or deserved.
One Penguin parent stated the following: “My son’s life would not be the same without the Penguins. He was just about tolerated whenever he tried to join other football teams as he would intentionally sabotage play and would not be asked back. It was really hard to watch as a parent because he just wanted to join in, and he adores football. When we found the Penguins, it felt like we had come home. Allan is everything to these kids. They light up when they see him, and he makes them all laugh so much.”
Self-funding the scheme, Allan founded Brentford Penguins for any child with Down Syndrome aged five or older, of any ability, and has run the weekly training himself as a volunteer. With an open-door policy where no child is ever turned away, the club has grown and now includes over 50 children and young people.
Allan Cockram says: “I am both honoured and humbled by being nominated for a London Sport Award. Behind every success and individual accomplishments, there’s a story of countless hours of dedication from an entire team and community.”
Another nomination, shortlisted for the Supporting Young Londoner Award, is the Featherstone School Sports Partnership in Ealing, which looks to address the gaps in opportunities amongst young Londoners and has developed a comprehensive ‘levelling up’ programme with an ambitious objective: “to ensure all disadvantaged children within our communities have equal access to sport and physical activities. We will break all barriers to participation to ensure no child is left behind.”
Featherstone organises several events for disadvantaged children including ten-pin bowling and archery. This programme provides children with access to enriching and engaging activities they would not usually be able to afford, such as rock climbing, archery, and golf, along with a serving of breakfast and up to 60 hot healthy meals a day.
Juma Abdullahi of Featherstone School says: “We are delighted to be nominated for the Supporting Young Londoners Award at the 2024 London Sports Awards. We are passionate about providing equal access to sport and physical activity to all young people regardless of gender, ethnicity, ability or socioeconomic group. As a team, we are extremely proud of our impact on our communities and the sustainable practices we have put in place.”