Teesside Hero Award for champion of Grass Roots Sport

February 23rd, 2015
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Our Hero: Alan Cawthorne celebrates his award with some of the young Redcar people who benefit from his dedication to grass roots sport.

He might be a judo black belt but “inspirational” Alan Cawthorne was completely thrown when he learned he’d won a Teesside Hero award.

The martial arts expert was taken by surprise when he realised his impact on local sport down the years had won him the special honour.

“As a judo black belt, I should be ready for everything but I didn’t see it coming when this award was sprung on me,” said Alan, who manages the Redcar Multi-Sport Club. “To say I was shocked and stunned would be an under-statement.

“I’m really grateful for their appreciation and recognition for what I’m doing within the community because it will help raise the profile of grassroots sport.

Alan has won a trophy, a meal for two at Mohujo’s Mexican restaurant in Billingham and £1,000 from charitable movement Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, which he is donating to the MFC Foundation where he also works.

“The money will boost the brilliant work the MFC Foundation do within the community and I’m absolutely certain that it will be put to good use,” said Alan.

He received his award in a surprise presentation by Karl Pemberton of Foundation patrons Active Chartered Financial Planners.

Alan was nominated for the award by MFC Foundation manager Helena Pinder in recognition of “the impact he has had on local sport over the last 30 years, outside of his 9–5 job. Alan really is an inspirational unsung hero.”

Alan, who celebrated his 66th birthday last Friday (February 20), is best known for his martial arts expertise, having established the award-winning Redcar Judo Club 30 years ago.

He also came to the rescue of the award-winning club when it was in danger of folding in 2012 – just four years after being voted best in the country – after he had stepped down due to a hip replacement operation.

Now, as well as helping young people learn the fine arts of judo, he also helps them hone table tennis and archery skills, having founded the Redcar Multi-Sport Club, based in the town’s Ings Farm School.

Alan, who has two grown-up children and three grandchildren, is spurred on not only because he recognises the physical benefits of sport to those who take part but also because of the social and education spin-offs.

“My real passion in life is working with young people and making sure they get as much as they can through sport,” said Alan, who has been married to Wendy for 47 years. “I’ve been volunteering for 30 years now and I still love it.

“I’m a bit of a workaholic. I might have a medical problem – who knows! I like putting my feet up and watching television but I like to see things happen.

“It’s thanks to clubs like the Redcar Multi-Sport Club that young people and adults get the opportunity to do things that wouldn’t normally come their way.”

Along with Active Chartered Financial Planners, other patrons of the Philanthropic Foundation include Middlesbrough FC, Steve Gibson’s Bulkhaul, Cleveland Cable Company, AV Dawson and Nortech.

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