East Yorkshire & Lincolnshire
BBC Sports Personality of the Year
Get Inspired Unsung Hero 2017
Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph
Radio Interview 14th November 2017
Courtesy of BBC Radio Humberside
I just wanted to share my recent experience with those interested with regards the Sports Personality of the Year awards held on 17th December 2017 at Liverpool’s Echo arena.
I was selected as the East Yorkshire & Lincolnshire region BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero winner in November of last year after being nominated by Mrs L.Brown, a parent of two of my students and the wife of another. Out of 30 nominations sent in from across this region 10 were short listed for the regional title and went to a committee including last year’s regional winner Silvia Worth, members of Sport England and the BBC. Chair person for the committee and assistant editor for BBC Look North (East Yorks & Lincs) Caroline Le Beau, said I was the unanimous choice of the committee to be selected as the regional Unsung Hero winner based on the excellent and informative application sent in by Mrs L.Brown.
We received a call saying the BBC wanted to come film some of our classes, claiming I had been shortlisted only, when actually it was to present me with the award. Reporter Laura Foster visited our Monday ‘Mini-ninjas’ class with camera in hand for footage and interviews with Myself, students and parents. Then she returned on the Wednesday with a camera man to film our Junior class for more footage but as a complete surprise she awarded me with the award. I truly was not expecting it as I thought it was just because I was shortlisted and I assumed other reporters would be visiting other nominees.
Needless to say, I was quite emotional about this award, the shear enormity of it took some time to sink in.
As well as being declared the regional winner I was to be sent along with my wife Sabumnim Louise Usher to the Sports personality of the year awards with the potential to become the national unsung hero winner.
Although I was awarded the title on our Wednesday class we were not permitted to reveal anything until the BBC released the story on 14th November (the following Tuesday). When you think about social media and the fact many of my junior students seem to be on Instagram, amazingly not a peep was shared. It was really difficult to not tell people such as family members, friends and work colleagues, but we did it and it had an amazing response on social media once released.
As the SPOTY 2017 date approached we got ourselves prepared for what was going to be most likely a once in a lifetime opportunity. The BBC came to film me at work and interviewed some colleagues on the Friday before the awards.
On the Saturday 16th December, my wife and I set off for Liverpool, naturally doing some Christmas shopping while we were there. The BBC had put us up at the Jury Inn Hotel across from the Echo arena for the weekend. We had a meet and great in the evening where we met our BBC chaperones, the other regional unsung heroes and last year’s national unsung hero winner Marcellus Baz. It truly was amazing to be in a room filled with such inspirational people and we made some new friends that night.
And so, the day began; Sunday 17th December, SPOTY 2017 day. We attended a briefing from 12pm – 2pm where we had dinner & drinks, watched a video containing clips from all the unsung hero’s news reports and had a presentation delivered by Marcellus Baz on his journey after SPOTY 2016! What an awesome fella, he has done so much in helping vulnerable people through his boxing club in Nottingham. He has even travelled abroad to give talks on his experiences and to help others.
After the briefing we went to get ready for the awards. We had to be ‘Red Carpet’ ready by 3:30pm. We all met up with the chaperones in the hotel reception, who took us into the echo arena to get signed in after which we were escorted to the red carpet. What a surreal experience being a person no-one really knows but having lots of photographers take your photo as you walk down the carpet.
After the carpet we had some photos taken together with the other unsung heroes then were welcomed with drinks and a string quartet while we waited for the stars to arrive. The first I saw was personalities such as Tom Daily & Torvill & Dean to name a few but they turned up in their droves. It was quite strange walking around the room passing people like Chris Eubank & Son, Georgie Porter, Anthony Joshua, Invictus games stars, Para-Olympians & Olympians etc, the list goes on.
At about 6:15pm we were escorted to our seats among the other sports stars. Members of the public surrounded us as we were on the main floor in front of the stage and they were in the seat around the arena. Red Dwarfs Craig Charles was warming up the crowd as we entered and took our seats that had our names on.
As the show got ready to go live Noel Gallagher and his band took the stage. We heard a count down from 10 seconds and bang, the welcome intro into the show then an explosive and impressive performance from the band.
I made sure I took everything in as the show went on, this was the most surreal event I think I shall ever have the privilege and honour to be a part of and I am pleased I managed to get on national TV, even if only a small part of the nation actually knows who I am.
Ultimately the Unsung Hero award went to Denise Larrad but when you think about the journey we have had from being nominated to being at the SPOTY 2017 I feel truly honoured. To have rubbed shoulders with sporting royalty and to have witnessed as well as being a small part of this event is amazing and I have taken many positives from it. Admittedly it would have been amazing to be named the national winner but there where so many of the other unsung heroes I feel deserve it more than me, it is just truly rewarding to be recognised in such a way.
After the show we went back stage where we had been before the show started to the VIP after party. To be walking around in a huge room having free food and drinks all night surrounded by famous and inspirational people was so overwhelming. There was a room where an awesome band played and people danced and the other room where the food was and where people socialised.
I was so proud to get photos with Olympic medallists, Jade Jones, Bianca Walkden, Lutalo Mahammad (All Taekwondo), Jonnie Peacock – Para-olympian runner, Joe Clarke – Canoeist to name a few. In fact, after talking to Joe Clarke for a while and him finding out why I was there and that I did Kickboxing and Taekwondo he told me to wait where I was as there was someone he wanted me to meet. That was when he brought Lutalo Mahammad over who actually wanted a photo with me!!!! AWESOME!
We stayed till the very end and had such an awesome time. I was very proud to represent my region, Martial Arts, the BTA and the UFKKWA.