Harry Bowtell was among the prize winners as Panathlon’s finest young leaders and participants were honoured at Friday’s Jack Petchey Outstanding Achievement awards.
The awards are now in their 10th year and the ceremony at John Lewis Stratford, overlooking the magnificent Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park, celebrates our finest Panathletes and young leaders from across London and Essex.
James Hillier went away with the blue riband Outstanding Achiever award, with Kinza Yasin and Piravien Chandrarajan picking up Highly Commended awards from the Jack Petchey Foundation judges. Read all about them here.
THE HASSAN AHMED SPORTING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
In the other prize categories, Harry Bowtell from Brentwood capped six years of progress from athlete to official by collecting the Sporting Achievement prize.
Harry is a familiar figure at Panathlon competitions across London and Essex. The 17-year-old business studies student with complex physical and learning needs was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at just seven months old. He is vision impaired due to nystagmus and wears special glasses to help his sight, as well as being on the Autistic spectrum.
He discovered boccia through Panathlon in 2012 and quickly developed a passion for the precision ball game that led him to captain his school team to gold in the Plate competition at the Copper Box Arena in London’s Olympic Park in 2016. He was named runner-up in the Jack Petchey Outstanding Achievement award category that year.
After honing his skills at Hall Mead School and then Havering College, Harry achieved his Boccia Level 1 officials course and refereed the Lord’s Taverners National Schools Boccia Finals in Hatfield in April this year.
He now delivers boccia training sessions in primary schools, helping children with special educational needs learn to play the sport, while also working as a volunteer with Panathlon.
Harry’s rapid ascent from beginner to coach and his excellence in playing, leading and promoting the sport made him a fully-deserving winner of the award.
Harry’s mum Karen Bowtell reflected: “I’m incredibly proud of him, he always works so hard. He has taken on more and more responsibility and taken it all in his stride. He’s so good at helping other children.”
SPECIAL RECOGNITION – EXCELLENCE IN LEADERSHIP AND SPORT AWARD
The remarkable sporting journey of 17-year-old Jessica White, of Trinity School in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, was recognised by the Jack Petchey Foundation judges with the Sport and Leadership Award.
From arriving at Trinity in September 2006 with no speech and unable to take part in activities independently, she went on to overcome her communication problems and became a leading student who was named the school’s Head Girl this year.
Sport played a key role Jessica’s transformation and she too has nurtured a keen interest in boccia, developing game-specific skills and leadership qualities that have brought success to the school.
She represented Trinity at the Panathlon boccia competition and performed superbly, helping her team to a series of victories.
Jessica, from Romford (pictured above with her mum), is also a TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children) Trainer, assisting school staff in the use of structured teaching methods, and a member of extra-curricular dance, badminton and Panathlon clubs.
“I love helping out my friends,” said Jessica. “I’m helping the younger kids to read and have officiated at Lord’s Taverners boccia events, Panathlon club at school and at the Special Olympics. I love the tactics of boccia.”
Jessica’s teacher Danielle Hawkins, Head of PE at Trinity School, said: “She has overcome so many barriers. Her attention to detail is incredible, she’s proactive in her approach and she’s one of the kindest people in our school.
“Nothing is ever a chore for her. She is the epitome of what we would like all our students to be. Panathlon has really helped her develop and in turn she’s helped so many others progress in Panathlon too. She’s played a big part in how successful Barking & Dagenham have been ever year in the London Final.”
YOUNG LEADER OF THE YEAR
The Young Leader Award was presented to 18-year-old Anuj Chitroda, who organised a Sport Relief day for over 2,000 pupils and raised more than £1,300 for the charity in the same year that he completed his Sports Leaders UK Level 3 qualification.
Anuj established himself as an outstanding sports leader during his time at Kingsbury High School in north-west London and he moved onto college at the end of a year packed with achievements. He now studies computing at De Montfort University in Leicester.
He officiated at three Panathlon swimming events and showed confidence and skill, assisting participants in the pool in a manner that set them at ease and helped to bring the best out in everyone involved.
“It was really interesting how to adapt games to suit the children and make sure everything was having a good time. Before you’ve tried it you don’t realise what skills are needed but being thrown in at the deep end is the best way.
“My favourite experience was being a Young Leader in the swimming competitions. Once there was a blind child in the pool, and I had to provide a different experience for him than with physically disabled athletes. I love the variety. Seeing different kinds of people enjoy themselves, and knowing you played a part in it, is the best bit.”
SCHOOL NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
This inaugural award was given to Burnt Mill Academy Trust – four secondary schools and five primaries all based in Harlow, Essex.
Burnt Mill only joined the ‘Panathlon family’ in 2017/18 and have provided Young Leaders in several competitions. Panathlon events have greatly augmented the skills of pupils on their leadership programmes, some of whom have special educational needs themselves.
After being trained up by Panathlon COO Tony Waymouth, staff and students were given the opportunity to officiate and assist competitors at the East of England Multisports Final in February, the Essex Primary Swimming Final at the London Aquatics Centre and the East Region Deaf Boccia Final.
“Working with the children has been brilliant for them,” said Director of Sport, Phil Dawes (pictured above). “It helps them develop, seeing all kinds of different needs people have and how to deal with them up-close. It teaches them to treat people with disabilities normally, rather than differently.
“It’s great for them to get on with them and have a laugh or a joke. It’s lovely to see that kind of interaction. It’s also really helping our leadership programme at the school, giving kids great opportunities and some amazing places to go, such as the Olympic Park.”
Burnt Mill pupil Olivia Tyne, 13, attended the ceremony and commented: “Working as a Young Leader has made me so much better at working with young disabled people. I understand their needs so much better and it’s been a lovely experience.”
The prizes on the day were presented by Panathlon Ambassador Liz Johnson, the Paralympic gold medallist swimmer, Jack Petchey Foundation’s Operations Director Gemma Juma and special guest Matthew Key.
“It really prepares them for life once they finish school because these skills they get from being at these events can’t be taught, they have to experience them on the field of play. It requires them to think on their feet and access skillsets they don’t get to use in the classroom. It has been great today to see how much it means to the leaders to be recognised.”
Sir Jack Petchey added: “I think sport is important for all regardless of your ability. The Panathlon challenge gives young disabled people the chance to develop their skills, be part of a team and feel the joy and motivation created by taking part in an exciting competition with their peers. We want all young people to know that” if they think they can – they can”! We are very proud of the young people who are part of the Panathlon this year – well done all!.”
Thank you also to our very generous hosts, John Lewis Stratford City.