FOURTEEN promising young sportsmen and women have been given a career boost with £1,000 grants from Dorset Community Foundation’s Young and Talented Fund.
The fund, set up with the foundation by Dorset Lord-Lieutenant Angus Campbell, is aimed at helping performers from disadvantaged backgrounds to fulfil their potential.
Among the recipients is Bournemouth cyclist Jamie Witcher, who will use his grant to help cover the costs of getting to races all over the UK and Europe during his quest to gain a slot in a professional under 23 team next season.
The 17-year-old said: “The more results and experience I can gain will play a big part in the sort of team I can get onto for next year but unfortunately the flights, travel cost and accommodations are the main reason I can’t attend as many as I need to.”
He lives with his mum Kim, who spends much of her time driving to races and helping to keep him organised. She said: “The grant is a lifeline for Jamie because the cost of travel is so expensive,” she said. “He rides for Bournemouth Cycleworks in UK races and Team Cannibal abroad and they help with some of the cost – but we still have to pay out a lot, a new tyre can cost £100.
“Without this grant he just wouldn’t be able to compete in the big races and build up his experience.”
Snowboarder Daisy Curtain may be just short of 14 but she is already on the radar of British Snowsports and has an eye on becoming an Olympian. The Poole youngster, who has been snowboarding since she was six, has been invited to training camps on the snowy slopes of Laxx in Switzerland and other ones in Austria and Italy later this year.
Her mum Sarah said: “A lot of her training has to be out of the country so it gets very expensive to sustain, as well as buying the equipment. A new board is £450 and Daisy needs new boots, which are £300 so the cost just spirals.
“The grant is such a massive help because we know that at least one training camp is paid for and we really appreciate receiving it. We are now applying for Daisy to become an official member of the British snowsports squad, which will be amazing for her and this grant will be a big help towards that.”
Golfer Ellie Mans will use her grant to cover the cost of new equipment, entrance fees and travelling to tournaments all over the UK. The young Dorset vice-captain, who has a handicap of +1, has been selected for the England regional squad and is now competing again senior women at county and regional tournaments.
“I needed a new electric golf cart to carry my clubs because mine was very hard to work,” said the 16-year-old. “The money will also help me to play in bigger competitions, which will help me in the future. I don’t think I would have been able to enter them otherwise.”
Honor Johnson, 14, of Sturminster Marshall is another golfer with a promising future. The Broadstone Golf Club member has caught the eye of the South West England under 18 regional selectors and has represented Dorset at under 18 level. She trains regularly in Bath with the South West squad and competes in youth competitions all over the country.
Her dad Matt said: “There is a lot of time on the road, and most national competitions consist of five-day tournaments. Obviously, this has significant costs including travel, accommodation, food and so on.”
Without this grant he just wouldn’t be able to compete in the big races and build up his experience
Ballroom dancing partners Caroly Janes and Glenn-Richard Boyce from Boscombe will both use their £1,000 grants for further training and travel costs as they strive to defend their position as world number ones in world youth dancesport and progress to the amateur and then professional world adult championships.
Caroly, 18 and Glenn-Richard, 20, who are coached by Glenn-Richard’s parents, say they need to improve their Latin-American dances to compete in the Ten Dance competitions, which are decided by the best couple over five dances in ballroom and five in Latin-American.
Said Glenn-Richard: “As we make the transition from youth into adult events this grant will help us support ourselves and get us onto the level where we will be able to receive prize money and other sponsorship.”
The pair are due to defend their world youth crown in Sicily at the beginning of May.
Lord-Lieutenant Mr Campbell said he was impressed by the range and quality of the applications for this year’s round of grants. “I am always heartened to see young people with the talent and determination to develop their careers in sport against the odds,” he said. “So often they need only a little financial help, at the right time and in the right place, to be able to take that vital step into true excellence.
“I am delighted the fund is enabling those gifted young people to fulfil their potential, enhance their lives and become an even greater asset to our county and our country. There is such a rich vein of talent in Dorset and I look forward to seeing all of the applicants’ progression in their sport.”
Dorset Community Foundation director Grant Robson added: “Setting up funds to connect donors with causes they care about is what we do best and in this instance it is gratifying to see this money set people on the path to achieving their goals.
“Last year we saw that with former beneficiary Jacob Peters becoming an Olympic swimmer in Tokyo and I fervently hope he will inspire all our other grant recipients to reach their potential. We would love to see more people contributing to this find so that we can continue to support talented young people in Dorset.”
Pictured: Golfer Honor Johnson, left, golfer Ellie Mans, snowboarder Daisy Curtain, cyclist Jamie Witcher and dancers Caroly Janes and Glenn-Richard Boyce