Grant boost for Norfolk's young sporting stars

NORFOLK'S young stars of sport, music and dance have been helped on their way to future success with grants through a scheme established by the county council.

NORFOLK'S young stars of sport, music and dance have been helped on their way to future success with grants through a scheme established by the county council.

Increased funding from private sponsors has boosted the number of talented 14 to 25-year-olds being supported through the Norfolk Sports and Cultural Foundation this year to 23.

They will share �57,000, with grants ranging from �1,000 to �5,000 a year, intended to help them learn, train or become better equipped.

On Monday they gathered at Norwich City's Carrow Road ground for a photo shoot and to meet Canaries' defender Jens Berthel Askou, who is backing the scheme.

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They included 14-year-old tennis player Pippa Horn, of West Harling, near Thetford, awarded �4,150.

Ranked at number two at under-14 level in Great Britain, and number 20 for her age in Europe, this is Pippa's first year of being funded by the foundation.

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Over the last year she has beaten three players who featured in the European top 10, and represented Great Britain in the European Winter Cup, winning all three of her matches.

The funding will allow Pippa to travel to compete in more tournaments and receive high-calibre training.

She said: “I'm really pleased to have got this money. It will make a big difference and help me get international input from coaches and take me to the next level.”

Michael Painter, 15, of Sprowston, who competes in the hammer, shot put and discus, was also awarded �1,660. He is currently ranked 2nd in the UK at both hammer and discus at under-15 level, and is in the UK all-time greats at both events for his age.

The money will help him undertake specialist training and help with travel costs and buying kits. With size 15 feet, Michael finds specialist shoes hard to find and expensive.

He said: “I'm very happy. I was not expecting to get quite as much money so I'm a little surprised. It's going to be quite a big help for me.”

The Foundation was set up in 2008 with a guaranteed �35,000 grant from Norfolk County Council each year to 2012, the year of the London Olympics. Last year it supported 14 young people.

During the year the council sought private sector funding to boost the number of young people it assisted, and secured annual donations of �25,000 from Norse Group, a support services company owned by the county council, and �1,000 from the John Jarrold Trust.

Daniel Cox, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “The calibre of this year's applicants has been outstanding.

“It really has been a case of us simply not having enough funding to back everyone, and I hope the private sector can help us back even more of our talented young people for next year, just as the Norse Group has allowed us to do this year.

“Supporting 'aspirational people with high levels of achievement' is one of the county council's main ambitions and that is exactly what this foundation is about.”

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