Doucecroft School, Panathlon and our sponsors Woodland Group came together to celebrate some truly incredible achievements by pupils across Essex on Tuesday December 20. 

Doucecroft School in Colchester were the big winners in this year’s Essex Primary Outstanding Achievement awards in association with Woodland Group and this week’s event gave us an opportunity to recognise the school’s incredible work in engaging children with autism and complex needs in PE – using Panathlon as a catalyst to ignite a love of physical activity and competition.

>>> Check out all the images from the Woodland Group Essex Outstanding Achievement awards <<<

Three of our 2022 Essex Outstanding Achievement award winners were from Doucecroft. Many of them have previously had negative experiences of PE and sport at mainstream schools, but they have thrived at Doucecroft through the expert guidance of the school’s PE staff and their deeply embedded Panathlon ethos. 

Our sporting activities are replicated during lessons to prepare pupils mentally and physically for the challenges they face when they compete out of school at our events. 

The impact on pupils has been profound – as evidenced by the stories we heard at the school’s end-of-term Christmas celebration which featured our awards presented by Woodland Group’s John Stubbings, Jac Randhawa and Chris Harvey. 

Panathlon’s Woodland Group Essex Primary Outstanding Achievement award winner Joseph Parslow

The winner of our Essex Primary Outstanding Achiever award was Joseph Parlow. Using Panathlon activities, Joseph has worked hard with Doucecroft’s sports coordinator Andrea Griffiths to progress from needing one-to-one support into a “confident young man” who loves being part of a team. He competed at the prestigious London 2012 Aquatics Centre and now plays for a local football club. 

Joseph’s mum Caroline said: “He has been on so many trips with the school and it has made a huge difference. We must thank Doucecroft and Panathlon for the changes we’ve seen in our boy.” 

Read more about Joseph’s journey here

Panathlon’s Woodland Group Essex Primary Outstanding Achievement award runner-up Peter Vaughan with his mum Wendy

Our joint Essex Primary Outstanding Achiever runner-up is 11-year-old Peter Vaughan, who through his own self-development, guidance by Doucecroft staff and experiences with Panathlon has “totally changed his attitude to physical activity”. 

Peter took part in our at-home Panathlon activities during lockdown and was absolutely delighted to win a bronze medal in our Essex primary swimming gala at the London 2012 Aquatics Centre.

“Doucecroft has made a massive difference to him. Thank you to Panathlon for constantly pushing him that little bit further, to do and achieve more,” said his mum Wendy.

Read more about Peter’s journey here

Our other runner-up is nine-year-old William Smith from Buttsbury Junior School in Billericay. 

After experiencing significant adversity through the pandemic, William took part in the in-school Virtual Panathlon and was ecstatic to be selected in Buttsbury’s 12-strong team for the Panathlon 10-pin bowling in Basildon. He called the feeling of winning a medal and certificate “magical”. He is described by staff as “always the first to celebrate his peers’ achievements and successes.”

Meanwhile, Oliver Barrett from Doucecroft earned our Essex Outstanding Achievement Special Recognition award for what staff called a “massive change in behaviour around PE.” 

Competing in our multisport, swimming and 10-pin bowling competitions has been a massive spur for Oliver to immerse himself in PE, help staff set up equipment and take part in sports day – all things he had previously found hugely difficult.

The rapid expansion of Panathlon’s sporting provision across Essex saw us expand our Woodland Group Outstanding Achievement awards for the county by creating a local award for pupils in Southend.

The winner was Scarlett Rickwood from Greenways Primary School (above) whose rapidly-improving skills have seen her transfer into mainstream PE sessions at school. Those skills have been accelerated by competing in Panathlon, where she has flourished in our swimming galas and multisport and 10-pin bowling events.

Read more about Scarlett here.

On the day, Woodland Group also presented internal awards for Doucecroft pupils to recognise their endeavours across the year. Some of them were previous winners of our Essex Outstanding Achievement awards and it was wonderful to see their continued progress. Read all about the award winners here.

Company Secretary John Stubbings, chauffeur Chris Harvey and Project Leader Jac Randhawa (below) from our sponsors Woodland Group were blown away by the stories of resilience and achievement. 

Jac said: “It is a privilege to be here and meet children who have achieved such amazing things despite facing real challenges. To be able to see the young people who are benefiting from Woodland Group’s support for the charity is just amazing.” 

John added: “We have partnered with Panathlon since 2010 and we know the money is always well spent! To feel empowered to join in with something they previously felt unable to gives these pupils so much confidence.” 

Woodland Group have kindly doubled their contribution to Panathlon in 2022 through staff taking part in various sponsored activities including Ride London and their initiative to match every run scored by Essex Eagles in their T20 campaign with £1. In early 2023, Woodland staff will be volunteering as leaders at Panathlon competitions. 

Panathlon’s Chief Operating Officer, Tony Waymouth, said: “Year after year, the Woodland Group Essex Outstanding Achievement awards recognise children who have come through adverse circumstances and are flourishing through their sporting endeavours.

“I must pay tribute to Andrea and all the staff at Doucecroft for their diligent and compassionate work to instil in their pupils a love of sport and confidence to perform. The vehicle of Panathlon, the passion and expertise of Doucecroft’s PE staff and the support of Woodland Group is definitely a potent combination.”