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14 Sep 2021 | 8:08

Organisations and charities across the sport for development sector are being encouraged to nominate volunteers who have gone above and beyond to support their local community over the last 12 months after the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ‘Unsung Hero’ Award was launched for 2021. 

The annual award, which is officially supported by the Sport for Development Coalition’s partner Made By Sport, seeks out volunteers who have made a lasting impact on their community through sport and physical activity. Nominees must be 16 years or older. 

It’s quick and easy to enter, and your entry could win coverage for your organisation on local and national BBC TV and radio, and online. There will be 15 regional winners – one from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and each of the 12 English regions – with the BBC’s prestigious Sports Personality of the Year ceremony taking place in December. The winner will be announced live on air on the evening.

The regional winners all received significant coverage on local BBC TV news in 2019 and were featured nationally on the BBC Sport website, with an average of 100,000 views per video. 

Made By Sport helps to raise funds for organisations across the Coalition’s growing network and beyond, and CEO Sophie Mason commented: “We’re excited to be working in partnership with the Coalition and the BBC again to demonstrate how sport and physical activity are being used every day to positively impact communities and individuals in the greatest need.” 

Past Unsung Hero winners have included Sgt Matt Ratana who in 2020 was awarded posthumously for bringing the community together to rebuild East Grinstead Rugby Club. In 2019 Kieren Thompson was recognised for his outstanding work in supporting young people at risk from gangs and violence in Nottingham. Kieren’s ‘Helping Kids Achieve’ programme was part of StreetGames’ national network of ‘locally-trusted organisations’ which forms part of the Coalition. In 2018 Kirsty Ewen, a swimming coach from Inverness, was recognised for overcoming mental health issues to help others who had experienced similar issues.


Kirsty received the award on stage from Jess Ennis-Hill, and the former Olympic champion is backing the Unsung Hero campaign again in 2021. She said: “Community clubs and groups across the country have given athletes their big breaks; (and) given people focus, support and inspired them to get fit. 

“They have been led by amazing volunteers who deserve a huge ‘thank you’ for getting us through another tough year. We want to hear all about these special people, so nominate them now for the BBC Unsung Hero Award.” 

BBC Director of Sport Barbara Slater said: “Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen individuals step out, make a difference and use sport to transform their communities. They are true unsung heroes and it’s a privilege for the BBC to able to shine a light on their inspiring stories.” 


Unsung Hero award


As a further incentive for organisations to submit an entry, this year the Unsung Hero award will also be supported by BBC Local Radio’s ‘Make a Difference’ campaign. Launched by all 39 BBC local radio stations in March 2020, Make a Difference is a virtual noticeboard for those offering help and those needing support. To date more than five million people have now either called, texted, or messaged their local BBC radio station - helping to pull communities together and filling the airwaves with uplifting stories of the kindness of strangers. 


Entries can be made by text (around 700-800 words) or video (up to two minutes) using this form. Remember to include plenty of detail on why your nomination deserves the award. 

You can also enter by downloading a form for English (Word or PDF) or Welsh (Word or PDF) entries and sending it to [email protected]. You can view examples of a written nomination here and video nomination here. You must be 18 to enter. 

For information about the award, the judging process and how the BBC will handle your data, read its terms and privacy notice

Make your nomination before 23:59 on Sunday 17th October 2021. The BBC cannot accept nominations after this time.