South Yorkshire ‘Wildcat’ scoops award

A South Yorkshire pensioner who holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do credits his extended family as the reason for winning a community award.

Keith Whitton, chairman of the Sheffield Wildcats Rink Hockey and Roller Skating Club, scooped the Contribution to Sport accolade at the Shiregreen Community Awards, organised by Sanctuary Housing.

The Doncaster resident, who travels to Shiregreen to run the Wildcats, has forged strong friendships through the team over the years and believes they have been an important factor in his success.

 “Since getting involved, my life has been enriched in so many ways,” he said. “The relationships I have built up with the young people in the club – who I call my ‘honorary grandchildren’ – and their families have meant we are all so committed to making it work. This award is really for all of us.”

Roller sports have played a part in Keith’s life since he was a young boy, when he used to roller skate around his local neighbourhood in the 1950s. After discovering the sport of roller hockey at university, he joined the then newly reformed Sheffield Wildcats in 1982 and led them to league victory the following year.

The 69-year-old, who stays fit and active through Tae Kwon Do training at a local martial arts academy, where he is a black belt, became reacquainted with the Wildcats in 2016 and launched the ‘WildcatsGetActive’ project to introduce the sport to Shiregreen’s younger generation.

The Wildcats now include a number of teams focused on different age groups, as well as semi-professional adult squads.

Keith said: “It’s a real honour to receive this award from Sanctuary. In the last three years we have achieved so much and we’ve got ambitious plans for the future.”

The award that Keith received was just one of the accolades in the Shiregreen Community Awards, which saw individuals and organisations recognised across 10 categories, including:

  • Make a Difference award – won by Rochelle Barrett.
  • Health Heroes – won by Margaret Gardener and Margaret Heathcote.
  • Young Achiever of the Year award – won by Josh Bilton.

Sanctuary’s neighbourhood partnerships manager, Melanie King, said: “We are so pleased to be able to reward the people who contribute to Shiregreen being such a vibrant neighbourhood to live and work.

“So many residents give up their time to make the community a better place and we are proud that we were able to recognise just some of them through our awards.”

This event was funded by Sanctuary’s Community Investment Fund, supporting projects which benefit Sanctuary residents and their communities.

Full list of winners

Contribution to Sport – Keith Whitton

Volunteer of the Year – Eric and Christine Dilger

Make a Difference award – Rochelle Barrett

Health Heroes – Margaret Gardener and Margaret Heathcote

Friend of the Year Award – Desmond Antcliff

Community Venue of the Year – Firth Park Academy

Senior Champion Award – Valarie Firth

Young Achiever of the Year – Josh Bilton

Kath Page Green Fingers Award – Tracy Grimes and Michael Haddock The Karl Barton Award – Amelia Johnson


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