Greater Manchester’s Elizabeth Downie wins silver at National Sportivate Awards

  • Author

  • Date

    10th December 2015

Elizabeth Downiefrom Trafford, Greater Manchester has taken second place in the Sportivate Participant of the Year Awards held in London this week, in recognition of her contribution and outstanding commitment to sport. The award was presented by Minister for Sport and Tourism, Tracey Crouch MP and England Rugby World Cup winner Maggie Alphonsi MBE.

Juggling work with taking care of her two year old daughter, exercise didn’t rank highly in 22 year old’s Elizabeth’s priorities. Determined to make a change, Elizabeth started on the ‘Take the Reins’ Sportivate project at Carrington Riding School. Over an eight week period, she learnt not only how to horse ride but also about how to manage the stables.

Realising that her new hobby could end up being more, Elizabeth decided to enrol in a college course to get professional qualifications in horse care and stable management. Now in her second year of study, Elizabeth is perfecting her horse jumping as well as developing her management skills. Better still, her little daughter is now also learning to ride.

Minister for Sport and Tourism, Tracey Crouch MP, who presented the award with England Rugby World Cup winner Maggie Alphonsi MBE, said: "Elizabeth has shown incredible commitment to her sport. I am thrilled that Elizabeth has been recognised for her brilliant achievements, she is proof that there is a sport out there for everyone."

Accepting the award, Elizabeth Downie said, “I loved every minute at the Sportivate sessions. I never thought my life would take this path and thanks to Sportivate it has. It’s changed my life for the better and now I actually have a career I can be proud of.”

Sportivate aims to give young people like Elizabeth who weren’t playing sport previously, the opportunity to discover a new sport of their choice. Once the Sportivate sessions have been completed, the young people are then helped to find a club or venue where they can continue to take part in sport.

Since its launch, more than 660,000 young people have attended Sportivate sessions, with over 550,000 completing their coaching courses. Sportivate is being delivered by the network of 45 county sports partnerships, GreaterSport for Greater Manchester, working with local clubs and providers.

GreaterSport Chief Executive, Yvonne Harrison said: “Elizabeth is one of over 41,000 individuals who have benefited from the Sportivate programme so far across Greater Manchester. We are delighted that she has been put forward for this national award, her story epitomises what GreaterSport are all about - changing lives through sport and physical activity. Elizabeth shows the wider benefit that can come from taking part. To find an interest, like Elizabeth has with horse riding and to turn that into a learning opportunity and start college is amazing.”

Sport England’s Director for Community Sport, Mike Diaper, said: “Thanks to the ‘Take the Reins’ programme, Elizabeth has discovered not only a natural talent, but moreover a new career path. Elizabeth’s journey is testament to the valuable role Sportivate plays in encouraging young people to get outside their comfort zone, and tap into their sporting potential.”

At the same event a Bury dance and cheerleading satellite club has been named Sport England’s Satellite Club of the Year. St. Gabriel’s Street Shakers claimed the top honour in recognition of its trojan work to encourage more Bury girls get active.