One thousand kids experience Olympic Legacy

On 5th July 2013 over 1000 children from across Nottinghamshire competed in the Sainsbury’s School Games.  The event which is held twice a year was the culmination of hundreds of level 2 (qualifying events) which had taken place across the county in the months leading up to the final.  All eight of Nottinghamshire’s districts and boroughs took part in a range of sports consisting of athletics, table tennis, tennis, netball, football, cricket, rounders, golf, tag rugby, boccia, mini basketball and basketball.

The competition was preceded by an inspiring opening ceremony at the University of Nottingham’s Park Campus, where there were performances from 13 year old Holly Fallon, pictured below.


Holly gave an impressive rendition of ‘The Worlds Greatest’ and was interviewed about her choice of song by young leaders from the Nottinghamshire Leadership Academy Network. She told them that she thought the song represented the values of the School Games and that the message was ‘If you try hard enough, and believe in yourself, dreams can come true’.  Jason Gardener (Olympic Gold Medalist) and Charlotte Henshaw (Paralympic Silver Medalist) certainly agreed with this message and during their interview with Tom Burrows (Young Leader) they described their own journeys to the tops of their sports and told the young people how they had started their careers but competing in school sport just like them.


Pictured – Tom Burrows interviewing Charlotte Henshaw and Jason Gardener.

The opening ceremony also had performances from Oakfield Dance Group who performed a contemporary dance piece inspired by the School Games values of teamwork and determination, the performers were from Oakfield School and Sports College.  They were supported by Holly Fallon who sang ‘Titanium’.


Pictured – A performer from the Oakfield Dance Group

At the Nottinghamshire School Games we always like to end the opening ceremony with a memorable act which captures the imagination of the young people and ‘fires’ them up for the days competition.  This year was no exception and the honor went to Excelsior School of Dance who qualified for the event by winning the ‘Dance 4’ county dance festival ‘Episodes’.


Pictured – Excelsior School of Dance in full flow

Sporting Champions provided us with a fantastic compere for the event, a young athlete call Julz Adeniran, Julz who has represented England on several occasions has a personal best for the 110m Hurdles of 13.72 and is ranked in the top 5 Nationally.  Julz introduced all the acts and guests are really spread some of his enthusiasm to the young people (and some old 🙂 ) when on several occasions he got the audience doing countdowns, cheering and generally raising the roof.

Several local dignitaries attended along with representatives of many of the UK’s most well known sporting organisations, they were thrilled by the opening ceremony and many stayed on to watch the days competitions. Councillor John Knight, Committee Chairman for Culture at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Well done to everyone who took part in the summer Nottinghamshire School Games. It has been a wonderful opportunity to showcase sport within our schools in the county and great news that so many children took part.”

The highlight of the day for me was witnessing an Olympic Gold Medal winning sprinter race against the children at the Sportshall Athletics.  Jason was greeted by deafening screams of excitement as he went into the arena, he was handed the microphone and asked the children ‘OK so who thinks they’re fast?‘ ‘I do!‘ they all screamed. ‘OK who thinks they’re faster than me?‘ again ‘I do‘ they all screamed. This was fantastic to see and was raising the hairs on the back of my neck.  Eight children were nominated by their teams to take part in the race, and with a little help from Jason, Corie Cote, of Ryton Park School, pipped him on the line.  For one little boy he would be able to say he’d beaten an Olympic Gold Medalist for the rest of his life.


On your marks, get set, GO!!! (Jason Gardener races all comers at the School Games)

We hope that Corie may perhaps carry on to emulate his new hero Jason Gardener, but more than that we hope that the young people who competed at the Sainsbury’s School Games will be inspired to make sport and physical activity part of their lives.  In conclusion we’d like to thank all the leaders, volunteers and organisations who helped us to make this event possible.  Special thanks go to Sainsbury’s who have invested £10m to help us ensure that our young people get the best opportunities and experiences from sport in their county.

Photo’s by Eleri Tunstall of Ikootu Photography

This article is written by Ian Wakefield and first appeared on the Sport Nottinghamshire website.


Mypastforme – a shrinking world!

Ever heard the phrase ‘Six degrees of separation’?  It’s intended meaning is that every person in the world is potentially 6 steps or people away from an introduction to everyone else on earth.

Well where did this theory come from? It is thought to have come originally from a Hungarian author called Frigyes Karinthy.  In 1929 he published a series of short articles including a piece called ‘Chains’ and although fictional he hypothesised that because of increased, wealth, ability to travel, social mobility and better communication that the world was shrinking and as a result he wrote that any two characters in his story could be connected through no more than five acquaintances only one of whom was known personally.

This was nearly 100 years ago now, and in my opinion despite the world’s population more than trebling from approx 2 billion in 1929 to over 7 billion in 2012  ‘Six degrees of separation’ is even more likely to be true today.  Why is this?  It’s obvious isn’t it? – the Internet!

With social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin this is a real possibility,  to demonstrate this I’ve recently connected with a 9 th cousin on Facebook,  I’ve been Tweeted by Olympic Gold Medallists and introduced friends to Premiership Football Managers through Linkedin.  Prior to the internet surely these type of interactions would have been at the most extremely unlikely for an ordinary person like me.

However the bit that really interests me is how the internet has opened up the possibilities for us to trace our ancestors, our roots. Since developing a personal interest in Genealogy some years ago, I’ve made a series of seemingly random discoveries about how I’m connected to people and places.  I have noticed that the harder I look the more connections I seem to find.

As a result a handful of my friends are now also in my family tree as are 2 ex girlfriends and my current girlfriend is also my 11th cousin. No jokes about in breds from Norfolk please.

So with sites like and Genes Reunited, as long as you have the time and the patience it’s relatively easy to trace your tree and shrink your world, but this can be time consuming and frustrating.

In January 2012 I created a website called to help people trace their ancestors.  If you don’t have the time, patience or knowledge but would really like to have a permanent record of your Family Tree, for future generations or even an elderly mother or father then please check the website. 

Feature picture is the Earl Family from the North End area of King’s Lynn, included in the picture is my G Grandfather William Jacob Earl and his Father William Whitehead Earl.  The Northenders as they were known was a poor, hardworking and proud community located in the dock area of the port town of King’s Lynn.

Kids with Guns – in Derby

Don’t be alarmed no guns were seen here, but they may as well have been.  This is a short account of a recent training ride from Loughborough to Derby.

May the 13th (next weekend) is scheduled as my next bike race.  The race is part of the Mud Sweat & Gears series incorporating the East of England XC Championships, so I really felt that despite the severe weather warnings that I needed to get a good few miles in over the bank holiday weekend.

During Fridays FE Games in Nottingham I had psyched myself up to ride over to my girlfriends house that evening and ride back on Monday evening.  By the time I got home from work it was almost 6 and on a good day the ride was going to take about 2 hrs so I knew it would be dark before I got there.  I got well prepared with layers of waterproof clothing, overshoes and lights, although not just any lights – two sets of high powered enduro lights on the handlebars, there should be no excuses for not seeing me.

So off I set on a quiet evening, enjoying my ride through the Leicestershire countryside down the Garendon and Cloud Trails towards Derby, there was a cool breeze and a light rain, the aroma from the endless fields of rapeseed was spectacular.

The route was one I’d done many times although not at night.  It gradually got darker as I approached Derby and I’d been pushing really hard on the trail as there was nobody else about.  Coming  to the outskirts of the City I came to an underpass, I could see a group of about 15 people gathered in front of me, all dressed in dark hoodies and moving in and out of the shadows.  As I got closer I could smell the unmistakable stench of ‘weed’,  I was cautious and as I went into the darkness lighting up the subway, the group moved into my path, some with viscous looking dogs who were yelping at this unwanted visitor.  Although my lights were powerful I couldn’t make out any of the hooded faces, who blocked my path. Some stood with their backs to me, other laid their bikes down across the path.

My adrenalin was already pumped with the ride, and I slowed down but not that much, in an attempt to force them to move out of my path.  This tactic was somewhat unsuccessful as I found myself riding over bikes and pushing my way through these faceless people.  At the time I was listening to ‘Kids with Guns’ on my earphones which seemed to be most apt for the situation I found myself in.

I ignored the abuse being shouted and half expected to look behind and see the hooded figures chasing me on their BMXs’ but they were not.  My adrenalin at this point was rushing through my veins and I used this to try and propell me faster and faster. Thinking that this incident was a one off I focussed my attention on the trail and the ride.  Only to be confronted a few miles later by a similar gang of hooded figures, who thought it would be amusing to block my way across a narrow bridge.  In a similar attempt to intimidate I rode straight at the hoodie in front of me who was laughing and smoking weed, he didn’t move which caused me to again force my way past him again resulting an a torrent of abuse by him and his cronies.

I thanked my lucky stars and continued on my journey with a collection of strange thoughts floating around in my head. Were the kids trying to intimidate? Were they just playing around? Was I just as bad as them in my younger days? What would have happened if I had stopped? or worse still had hit one hard?  I hoped I would never know the answers to these questions but the whole experience to reminded me of how ‘Sport’ can change lives and direct the energies of young people like these.

During the day these trails are filled with happy families, lovers hand in hand, people out on their bikes and walking their dogs, at night it seems the hooded youth of Derby make these subways and underpasses their territory.  I will certainly think twice before making another night ride to Derby.

Gear heads out to Africa

In March 2006 I organised a campaign which resulted in a 44 ton lorry collecting used sports equipment from 25 sports centres around the UK.  The equipment was sent to Zambia and was one of the proudest moments of my life.  This article gives an overview of the campaign and was published by the ISRM in its journal ‘Recreation’ in March 2006.

Read it here.