Award for Mike

BARCLAYS have awarded Mike Oakley, Chairmen of Orwell Panthers Athletic Club, the unique Barclays Spaces for Sports Local Hero Award and £1,000 to honour his outstanding efforts in grassroots sport.

BARCLAYS have awarded Mike Oakley, Chairmen of Orwell Panthers Athletic Club, the unique Barclays Spaces for Sports Local Hero Award and £1,000 to honour his outstanding efforts in grassroots sport.

Mike, 64, from Woodbridge, was presented with his award by Jennifer Ellis, manager of the Barclays branch in Woodbridge. The award recognises more than 30 years commitment to grassroots athletics across the Suffolk area, where he has worked tirelessly to help hundreds of athletes, both disabled and able-bodied, to enjoy their sport.

As a UKA Graded Official, he spends much of his time officiating disabled meets all over the country, as well as organising able-bodied County Championships. After realising there were no facilities for people with learning and physical disabilities in the area, Mike and his fellow coaches set up Orwell Panthers.

Mike is well-respected and admired by his fellow coaches, committee members and the children at Orwell Panthers and also the parents of the many athletes whose lives he has touched over the years.

He has invested a great deal of time and effort to improve grassroots sport in the area and his commitment to disabled athletics is unparalleled.

The Barclays Spaces for Sports Local Hero is a unique award to celebrate sport's genuine champions. Barclays invites fans to nominate someone in the community who deserves recognition for their outstanding contribution. The winner is presented with the award and £1,000 goes to the organisation or charity of their choice.

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The award forms part of Barclays Spaces for Sports, a £30 million community sponsorship which creates sustainable sports sites across the UK in areas that lack such facilities.

Ann Negus, founder member of the Orwell Panthers, commented: “I am delighted that Mike has won this award as he thoroughly deserves it. He has done so much behind-the-scenes work in the Suffolk area, so it is great that his efforts are being recognised.

“Without Mike, grassroots sport, and specifically disabled athletics in Suffolk, would be a lot worse off.”

Michelle Smith, Head of Community Sports Sponsorship for Barclays, said: “Sometimes a story comes along that reminds you of the power and reach of community sport, just like this one.

“We are delighted to recognise Mike's amazing work and contribution to grassroots sport.

“The efforts of Mike Oakley are a fantastic example of community sport at its best.”

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