University's Head of Sport Named 2014 Pride of Worcestershire

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Mick Donovan, the Head of the University of Worcester’s Institute of Sport and Exercise Science whose tireless work has made the City the forerunner for inclusive sport in this country, has been named 2014 Pride of Worcestershire.

The Michael Brinton Pride of Worcestershire Award was conferred on Mick from Angela Brinton DL – on behalf of the Worcestershire Ambassadors – at a ceremony West Midlands Safari Park on Saturday. The Worcestershire Ambassadors is a group of influential individuals, including leaders of industry and enterprise, celebrities and those in public life-media, arts, and sport- all of whom have a mission to promote Worcestershire.

The Pride of Worcestershire award is the County’s most prestigious award. It is made annually to just one person who has contributed to making Worcestershire a better place to live, work and visit.

"I am deeply honoured to receive this award,” Mick said. “To be recognised by the Worcestershire Ambassadors for our important work in sports and inclusion over the past 15 years is very special. It is really humbling to receive the award as an individual, but I really must accept it on behalf of the many people who have worked hard and enabled us to achieve so much, not only with our teams, but also with schools and the local community. I would like to express my sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed to this success."

Mick is co-founder of the Worcester Wolves Basketball Club – the current BBL Trophy and BBL Play-Off title holders – and has helped to transform Worcester’s sporting landscape over the last 15 years.

His vision and passion for inclusion led to the development of the magnificent University of Worcester Arena, Britain’s first indoor sporting venue designed specifically to meet the needs of wheelchair athletes, which opened in 2013 and has since become the training base for national teams and international athletes, as well as a venue for community sports clubs and school groups to develop their skills and increase their enjoyment of a variety of sports.

The outstanding success of the University Arena has led to proposals for an International Centre for Inclusive Sport at Worcester, which would see the University’s research, participation and development initiatives expanded and its expertise utilised further to deliver truly inclusive sport to a wide range of athletes and participants, including women, disabled competitors and older people.

The University Arena has already staged several notable international fixtures in sports such as basketball, wheelchair basketball and netball, and next year will host the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships, an event which, as the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor David Green, explains, will again bring athletes and spectators from across the continent to the City.

Professor Green explains: “Mick Donovan has been a real inspiration in developing sporting and educational opportunities for young people of all abilities. The European Championships, the men’s and women’s qualifying tournaments for Wheelchair Basketball at the Rio Paralympics, will bring national teams, players, coaches, supporters, diplomats, journalists and more from all over Europe to Worcestershire in August/September 2015 – how fitting for Mick to be the holder of the Pride of Worcestershire to welcome our guests and promote our County at the Championships next year.”

In presenting the award, Angela Brinton DL said: “I cannot think of anyone who deserves the Pride of Worcestershire Award more. Mick has created one wonderful programme after another for inclusion, hope and pride of the very best sort, and have truly helped people to flourish.”

Lord Faulkner of Worcester, who has played a significant part in promoting sport for all throughout the country, added: "Mick Donovan provides inspirational leadership in so many different ways that it is difficult to do justice to all that he has achieved for sport in the University, the City and the County. Not only is he a distinguished academic, who has helped to bring marvellous new and diverse learning opportunities to University of Worcester students, he is a visionary who has put Worcester on the map as a centre of sporting excellence, particularly in basketball.

“In my capacity as a trustee of the Foundation for Sport and the Arts I had the pleasure of working with Mick during the planning of the Worcester Arena, and I was able to persuade my fellow trustees why the Foundation should be the first outside organisation to offer a major capital grant Needless to say we are delighted that the Arena has proved to be such an iconic building and superb venue.

"Worcester and Worcestershire have so much to thank Mick Donovan for, and I am delighted that the Ambassadors should honour him in this special and unique way."

The Michael Brinton Pride of Worcestershire Award, named in honour of the former Worcestershire Lord Lieutenant, is supported by the Worcestershire Ambassadors, a voluntary organisation which promotes the economic prosperity of the county.

Last year’s winner was Ivan Knezovich, owner of West Midlands Safari Park.