Sheffield Sports Club Founder Wins Unsung Hero Crown

A Sheffield man who has dedicated more than 50 years to grassroots sport in the city has won a prestigious national award.

Des Smith, one of the founders and chair of the Sheffield Caribbean Sports Club, is in contention to be crowned the 2023 BBC Sports Personality Unsung Hero of the Year. The honour celebrates the best volunteers in sport, whose work is making a real difference in local communities every day.

It comes after he was named the regional winner for Yorkshire in recognition of his commitment to equality and diversity.

Des, who emigrated to the UK from Jamaica in 1966, is part of the South Yorkshire Charity Mentors programme. He is being supported by a team of mentors in his bid to raise £1.5m to create a new cricket pavilion at the Ecclesfield-based club.

He said:

It’s a surreal feeling to win this award. I never expected it at all. It’s a total surprise. It will be an incredible experience to be amongst so many high calibre names at the Sports Personality ceremony.

Sport has always been my passion and when I first moved here, it helped me to integrate and learn about other cultures. Sheffield Caribbean was originally created to provide children from the West Indies with a place to socialise and play, but it’ss now open to all backgrounds.

 

An image of Des Smith a middle aged male of Caribbean decent, smiling at the camera

The club is home to three cricket and eight junior football teams, plus hockey and netball.

Des, who lives in Beauchief, added:

The Club has gone from strength to strength over the last 50 years and my focus now is driving forward the fundraising campaign to create our much-needed new cricket pavilion to provide even more young people with a pathway into the sport.

South Yorkshire Charity Mentors (SYCM), established with support from South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF), offers leaders of the region’s charities and community groups the opportunity to secure free, mentoring and peer support from one of our experienced mentors.

Ruth Willis, CEO of SYCF and a Trustee of SYCM, said:

Everyone at South Yorkshire Community Foundation and South Yorkshire Charity Mentors would like to offer our congratulations to Des – an extraordinary man doing extraordinary work in local sport.

 We’re proud to be supporting the club’s campaign to create a new cricket pavilion through access to free support from our mentors and wish Des the best of luck for the national Sports Personality ceremony.

 

Tony Pedder, chair of South Yorkshire Charity Mentors, said:

This is a wonderful achievement and worthy recognition for an inspiring individual and a true unsung hero. We’re delighted to be working with Des through the South Yorkshire Charity Mentors programme and passionate about helping him to realise his vision for a new pavilion at Sheffield Caribbean Sports and Social Club, which will support current and future users of the facilities and enhance further the Club’s links with the community.

The overall winner of the BBC Unsung Hero award was announced at the Sports Personality show, which took place on Tuesday, 19 December, 19:00 GMT on BBC One live from Salford.

 

Meet Natalie Harrison

Natalie is responsible for overseeing the communication and marking strategy for South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation. This includes media relations activity, social and digital media. Natalie is contactable between 9.15am and 2.45pm on Mondays and Tuesdays (only in Term times).

Natalie Harrison

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