Sports charity The Mary Peters Trust, has joined forces with leading energy company Power NI to launch a new community athletes programme which will provide funding bursaries for three young athletes, helping them get on track to achieve their sporting ambitions.
Newly appointed as a Lady Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Lady Mary explained the background to the six-month Power NI partnership:
“We’re thrilled to partner with Power NI for this new community initiative which will provide three of our young people with a £2000 funding award each to help them further develop and improve their training and preparations for competitions and races in their various sporting disciplines.
“Funding support to help talented and hard-working athletes reach their potential has never been more important and I’m immensely grateful to Power NI for their financial contributions. A selection process is underway, and our three recipients, who will also become Power NI community sporting ambassadors, will be announced during April.”
In addition to the athletes support programme, the Power NI partnership also provides financial support to ongoing Mary Peters Trust fundraising activities including a Sport Inspires lunch event and Lady Mary’s upcoming 80th Birthday Gala Dinner at Titanic Belfast on Friday 31st May. The Grand Ball is one of a series of events to raise cash for ‘Mary’s Race to a Million’ campaign. Launched two years ago, the initiative is more than two thirds of the way to reaching the £1million target which will safeguard funding and support for Northern Ireland’s future high-performance sports people and medal hopefuls.
Since its inception after Mary Peter’s Olympic gold medal win at the 1972 Munich games, the Mary Peters Trust has impacted hugely on the sporting lives of thousands of young sports men and women both able-bodied and disabled. ‘Mary’s Race to a Million’ will help to continue that legacy for future decades.
Stephen McCully, Managing Director of Power NI said, supporting the Mary Peters Trust was a wonderful opportunity and represented a real synergy alongside Power NI’s existing community programmes.
“We already reach out to local communities through our new Brighter Communities funding programme and our staff led Helping Hands initiative and to partner this year with the Mary Peters Trust is providing us with a mechanism to give practical help to young sporting talent of the future.
“Lady Mary and the Trust Board have done an excellent job over the past four decades giving young people a real step up to various sporting podiums. The Mary Peters Trust alumni is amazing, featuring incredible names such as gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, golf icon Graeme McDowell, swimmer Bethany Firth, Paralympians Michael McKillop and Kelly Gallagher, hockey star Zoe Wilson and boxers Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Carl Frampton.
“At Power NI we want to play our part in helping three young people realise their sporting ambitions as well as support Lady Mary in all the work that she does for her Trust. Sport plays such an important role in any society whether at grass roots or Olympic champion level. Northern Ireland sporting successes in recent years really has helped inspire everyone from businesses to the general public and we do reap the economic benefits of sport through tournaments such as this July’s Open Golf Championship at Royal Portrush.”