Calderdale’s domination of the White Rose county shows no signs of abating as they won the Yorkshire Multisport title for the fifth year in a row at Fulford School in York on Tuesday (March 12). 

Calderdale notched up a massive 56 points with wins in four out of the six events (table cricket, New Age Kurling and the two athletics disciplines), as they beat second-placed Hull by 10 points.

Third place went to York, represented by Joseph Rowntree School, while Rotherham’s Abbey School finished four points behind them in fourth.

It was an emotional day for Sarah Pearce (pictured right), PE teacher at Brooksbank School from Calderdale, who was attending her farewell Panathlon event after supporting our events for many years.

She was awarded a medal by Panathlon’s Chief Operating Officer, Tony Waymouth, for her outstanding contribution to the event in the Yorkshire area.

“The kids really wanted to win but we stress to the children it’s not just about the winning, but the opportunities offered,” Mrs Pearce said. 

“They will be beaming from ear to ear when they go home and get to meet the Headmaster when they go back to school. They are ecstatic and it makes it all worthwhile to see their faces”

Reflecting on her time attending numerous Panathlon events over the years, Mrs Pearce insisted it is all about the children and all she does is “provide the opportunities”. 

“The staff always say, ‘it’s down to you, Sarah, for bringing them’ but all I do is fill in the paperwork and provide the opportunities. I absolutely love it and can’t put it into words. It’s really rewarding but it’s all about them,” she added. 

“I can feel my emotions coming on now. I have been doing this since 2016 and the number of students who are getting involved is amazing. When I first started, I brought five children and now we have so many here.”

Jack Dunn (pictured left), 15, a pupil at Brooksbank School, was also attending his last Panathlon event before going to college to study coaching and admitted it was the perfect way to finish.

”It’s really great to win but also a bit sad at the same time. It’s great that I have helped my own team to win the event. I have had so much fun – I would drop anything to do these events 

“As I’m going to college to do coaching, I can take use this Panathlon experience to help other people with disabilities.” 

A beaming Harry Moyers, 11, also from Brooksbank School, could not hide his delight at winning another medal and even provided some useful pointers on how to be a table cricket champion! 

“I love to be able to go home and put my medals under my bed and show them off in front of my family. Table cricket is my favourite event and I’m the best at it.” When asked what his table cricket secret is, Harry said: “Just keep aiming for the big sixes!”

Mark Harney, teaching assistant at Joseph Rowntree School in York, was full of praise of the regional event, which saw the best schools across Yorkshire competing together.

”The look on their faces now; they’re happy, they’re smiling and the social interaction builds their confidence – which is exactly what they need when they enter the real world. The confidence and ability to interact with people is vital,” said Harney, who was appearing in his eighth Panathlon competition.

“They put the pressure on themselves to win because they want to be in that competitive environment where they are challenging against the best in York, the region and the country.  

“They were so proud when they got their medals – no matter what position they came, they are proud of the role they played. The whole system of Panathlon just gives them a fabulous opportunity and without the school’s backing and this here, it wouldn’t be possible.” 

Marie Hookham, a member of staff at St. Mary’s College in Hull, was delighted with her school’s excellent runners-up spot – a year on from finishing fourth at their debut regional event. 

The school (pictured below) picked up wins in the boccia and polybat disciplines, and Hookham was proud of their efforts in pushing champions Calderdale all the way.

“They are very excited to take part and to see a smile on their faces is great. These events gives them a lot of confidence and to be mixed with other students is crucial,” said Hookham. 

Fulford School in York hosted today’s competition with their pupils acting as Young Leaders, guiding the competitors and officiating. Gracie Wright, 14, who was volunteering at her first Pantahlon event, said she can’t wait to do another. 

“It’s been really fun and interesting to see them do all these different sports,” said the Year 9 student. ”They are all so much better than us – we failed so terribly when we tried and they came in and beat us badly. I can’t wait to do it again.” 

The Head of P.E. at Fulford SchoolJames Shut, believes it is important for his pupils to get involved in volunteering to embrace discomfort.

“We have put on a lot of events over the years and the contact they get today with the students with different needs is really important. To be able to engage with them – it brings them out of their comfort zone,” he said.