THREE East Yorkshire gymnasts are set to represent Great Britain on the world stage next year after winning selection for the 15th World Gymnaestrada Games in Helsinki.
Susan Pipes MBE, 40, Mary Nolan, 23, and Amy Hopkin, 33, have Down Syndrome and are all members of the City of Hull Special Olympics Club.
They will head to Finland next July to represent their country, supported by the Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust, which has awarded them £500 each to go towards the cost of their trip, including travel and accommodation.
The trio, who train with the National Disability Gymnastic Club in Crewe and Milton Keynes every month, have been delighted with the sponsorship, and their newly branded training tops, sporting the Trust’s logo.
“I can’t believe they have been awarded £500 each. It’s absolutely brilliant. You struggle a bit to find the funds to cover the cost, so we are relieved and this is a big help,” said Susan’s mother, Elin Pipes, of north Hull
“It really means everything. You really struggle to send them to these events and you don’t want to say they can’t go. They work so hard and train all year round. I’m incredibly proud and delighted that they will have this opportunity.”
Elin set up the City of Hull Special Olympics Club 25 years ago and Susan, who was made an MBE for dedication to sport and gymnastics in 2000, has since gone on to compete at Olympic level throughout the UK and Europe, as well as in America, where she won five gold medals.
Mary, of Beverley, also won a silver medal in the World Games, and Amy, of Sutton Park, east Hull, has competed at Olympic level in the UK.
They all train in gymnastics twice a week, alongside football, swimming and trampolining, ensuring their fitness is the best it can be.
The cost of the trip to Helsinki will be almost £1,000 each and fundraising events will also be held to meet the full costs.
Elin said: “We hold coffee mornings and Susan has made some jewellery, which we sell, but we can relax a bit more now with this grant from the Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust.
“We are so grateful for their support.”
The week in Helsinki will begin with the opening ceremony, which will see participants march to the Helsinki Olympic Stadium.
Group performances will follow from Monday to Friday and see groups of 10 or more perform at the Helsinki Exhibition Centre, showcasing all levels of gymnastics.
Large group performances will also impress crowds, with between 200 and 1,000 gymnasts performing in an outdoor stadium.
The non-competitive event, which is held every four years, is aimed at all abilities, regardless of gender, age, race, religion, culture or social standing, and celebrates the value and diversity of gymnastics.
The Federation of International Gymnastics Gala will also be held, taking the audience around the world through gymnastics in less than two hours, before the closing ceremony, which brings everyone involved together to choose the next host country, and hand over the baton.
The Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust supports groups and projects across Yorkshire which make a positive difference in their communities, inviting applications for grants of up to £2,500, with a total of £100,000 available over a 12-month period.
The Trust also hands out ‘discretionary awards’ to individuals who it feels are deserving of support to achieve their goals, and Jo Hudgell, chair of the Trust, said it was a pleasure to back Susan, Mary and Amy to compete in the international event.
She said: “These grants are slightly outside of our criteria for funding applications, but we felt them incredibly worthy of backing and we are delighted to help through discretionary awards.
“I hope Susan, Mary and Amy enjoy every minute of this special experience, which I’m sure will encourage them to progress even further in their gymnastic fields and go from strength to strength in the future.”
The grant for the City of Hull Special Olympic Club gymnasts comes on the back of the Trust supporting Hull swimmer Natalie Moon, 19, who last week won gold, silver and bronze medals at the Special Olympics European Disability Swimming Championships in Belgium.
The Trust donated £1,600 to Natalie to cover the cost of her trip to enable her to compete.
Further information about the Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust is available online at https://www.hudgellsolicitors.co.uk/the-hudgell-solicitors-trust/