The Joseph Rowntree School lifted Panathlon’s North Yorkshire Multisport trophy after a dominant performance in the county final at Fulford School in York on Monday.
Amassing a maximum 60 points, students from the York school eclipsed silver medalists Lady Lumley’s from Pickering (42), third-placed Brooklands Community Special School from Skipton (36) and Bedale-based Mowbray School (30).
Organising and officiating the day’s competitive activities were not only Young Leaders from Fulford School, but volunteers from the Leeds branch of one of Panathlon’s hugely valued sponsors, the St James’s Place Foundation.
Rachel Mendelsohn, the Foundation’s secretary (pictured right with a student from Mowbray School), said she found the experience “utterly astounding”.
“We put so much energy into raising awareness of the Foundation but we rarely get to see where the funds are actually spent, so to call this rewarding is a giant understatement!” she said.
“I have climbed a mountain in Slovenia, walked 38 miles across the Gower Peninsula in Wales and trekked to the highest school in Nepal to help rebuild it after the earthquake, and this is just as fulfilling. It is utterly awesome.
“The skill and patience of the organisers and the sportsmanship of the competitors were what stood out for me. I loved the handshakes and high fives when they finished each game.”
One of Rachel’s St James’s Place colleagues, Sara Woolridge (pictured here on the left) was experiencing a Panathlon event for the first time. So overcome was she after the medal ceremony had finished, she tried – and failed – to hold back tears. “It was just wonderful,” was all she managed.
Joseph Rowntree’s competitors were taking part in their third Panathlon event of the year, and their experience was obvious as they cruised to gold.
“Obviously it’s nice to win as that’s what sport is all about, but today is also about our children supporting each other and enjoying themselves,” said Teaching Assistant, Jack Wood.
“It teaches them so much about teamwork and sportsmanship. We practise Polybat and table cricket at lunchtimes back at school so we are competitive, but we push the values of always trying your hardest. There are no losers in Panathlon. The kids just love it.”
Britney Lambert, 16, from second-placed Lady Lumley’s School, reflected: “I can’t get over how awesome this has been! I met so many people and it has put me in a really good mood!”
Ellie Christian, 14, from the Brooklands team, highlighted New Age kurling as her favourite event and added: “I am going to keep my medal and treasure it forever.”
Jonathan Moran, teacher at Mowbray School for pupils with moderate to severe learning difficulties, said: “We have a lot of children join us from mainstream schools and this gives them much better opportunities to be included in sport. The activities here are a lot more appropriate for our children.”
Joining our special guests from St James’s Place was Jonathan Coe from another of Panathlon’s much-valued funders, the Ovingdean Hall Foundation. The foundation support our programme of deaf events, which this year has expanded into new counties, with the season’s highlight arguably being the inaugural South of England Deaf Swimming Final at the Aquatics Centre in the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park.
“Panathlon is quite simply a winning formula,” he said. “My first contact with the charity was three years ago and at that stage it was a ‘hunch’ that this was a good idea to see what we could do for deaf children in the south east. Now, to see it spread like wildfire to the likes of Yorkshire, Tyneside and beyond is just marvellous.”
As well as presenting medals to the day’s competitors, Jonathan handed over our 2017 North Yorkshire ‘Outstanding Achievement’ and ‘Highly Commended’ awards to Finn Knaggs and Dominic Laycock respectively. You can read their stories here.
For a full gallery of pictures from the Panathlon North Yorkshire Multisport Finals, click here.