James Lee, 19, from Nafferton, East Yorkshire, has been involved in karate since the age of five and has been a member at various clubs as he has progressed to become British and Scottish Champion in the 18 plus seniors section, winning gold, silver and bronze medals for his achievements along the way.
He became a black belt – the highest level you can achieve in the martial art – in October last year and his ambition is to represent England at the World Championships, with competitions held across the globe.
James, a sport and exercise student at the University of Hull, said a £1,000 discretionary grant, handed to him by the Neil Hudgell Trust, is helping him to follow his dream and inspire others to get involved in karate.
He said: “The Trust is doing a fantastic job and this money has really helped me along the way, especially with my training fees and travel costs. I’m over the moon to have support like this.
“Karate is not recognised as an Olympic sport yet, but I hope it will be. I hope to start my own karate club and use my degree to be successful in the sport, becoming a teacher one day.
“I started competing when I was 10 or 11-years-old and I absolutely love it.”
James, who also referees karate contests, will aim to defend his title at the British International Championships in Glasgow in September.
He has been training hard, putting his all into the martial art at his current club in Barnsley twice a week, as well as completing two of his own training sessions.
James said: “I have been training with some of the England squad members in my kata section and I knocked out the Scottish champion in the semi-finals of the Scottish Championships in Edinburgh earlier this year.
“This grant is helping me to get competition places and enter competitions abroad. My family are an amazing support to me and have also taken me to train up and down the country. I’d love to represent my country one day.”
Groups can apply to the Neil Hudgell Trust for grants of up to £2,500, with a total of £100,000 available over a 12-month period.
Some individual applications which fall short of the Trust’s specific grant criteria are instead awarded discretionary grants where the panel feel the individual is deserving of support.
Jo Hudgell, chair of the Trust, said: “James is another shining example of the sporting talent in our community and it is our pleasure to award him this grant. He is dedicated to karate and it will be wonderful to see him inspire others to follow in his footsteps.
“The Trust is committed to giving back to our community, supporting individuals and groups who we feel are deserving of our help and backing. We’re delighted to help James in this way and look forward to following his progress.”