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‘We cannot wait to see what a difference we can make together’: Companies are ready to help athletes to fulfil their dreams

HELPING YOUNG ATHLETES at the start of their sporting careers is a key driver for chartered accountants MHA’s support and sponsorship of the regional charity SportsAid.

The firm, which has offices in Milton Keynes and Northampton, sees the fundraising and support of events as crucial to playing its part in assisting the sports stars of the future with their training and transport costs as they prepare for major national and international events.

MHA has partnered with SportsAid since announcing the link-up at the Milton Keynes Sporting Lunch with guest speaker the former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland international defender Mark Lawrenson in December last year.

And pictured above is the firm’s partner Liz Newell presenting a cheque to athlete Ayesha Jones of Marshall Milton Keynes Athletics Club, the UK’s No.1 under-17 javelin thrower, at the latest sporting lunch in June as Ayesha continues her bid to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in 2026.

“We are delighted to be able to support SportsAid’s commitment and dedication of everyone involved and help to make a difference for athletes across so many sports,” Ms Newell said. “It is an honour to be affiliated with such talented people like Ayesha and we cannot wait to see what a difference we can make together.”

The Milton Keynes and Northampton Sporting Lunches are run by SportsAid Eastern. Partnership means support for the network of Sporting Lunches across the Eastern region, an award for an individual athlete and joint promotion of fundraising opportunities to increase the benefits to young athletes in the region.

“The sponsorship from MHA is hopefully the first of many more corporate partners who are committed to supporting our young people be their very best,” said SportsAid Eastern chair Mark Ormerod.

Ms Newell added: “It is important for us to support the local community of sports people, to give them opportunities that they may not have had without the support on SportsAid Eastern.”

Ayesha pictured right, 16, was due to represent Great Britain in the Youth Commonwealth Games in Trinidad & Tobago in August, having represented Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the under-18 European Championships in Jerusalem last year.

“I have worked very hard to be at the top of my event and to be recognised as an elite athlete,” she says. “My dream is to try and get to the Olympics, but I would also be honoured to represent my country in all the big championships like the Commonwealth Games and World Championships.”

But she does not forget her roots. Ayesha volunteers to help at MMKAC’s Star Track programme for under-11s during school holidays. “I help by working with some of the younger athletes and support and encourage them while they take part in the multi events.”

She first threw a javelin aged 11. “After this competition, I realised that I enjoyed throwing the javelin and was keen to learn how to throw one properly,” she says. She began training with MMKAC’s javelin coach Janina Pownall up to three times a week.

In 2021, when competition resumed after the pandemic, Ayesha took part in under-15 competition and was unbeaten in all but one.

“When I moved into the U17 age group in 2022 I had made the decision that javelin was the discipline in athletics that I wanted to be my main focus,” she says. “I have competed in other disciplines for the club , but javelin is where my heart is.”

2022 was a big year … the year Ayesha first threw longer than 50 metres. “It was also the year I was unbeaten nationally and the year I was given the opportunity to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the U18 European Championships. This was an amazing opportunity and one that I really enjoyed participating in.”

2023 began well with Ayesha picked to represent England in the indoor Växjö International in Sweden. She returned with a gold medal and was selected for England in the Home Countries’ International Track and Field Championships in Scotland. Her big test, she says, is set to be at the Youth Commonwealth Games.

“The standard to be considered was 48 metres and I have thrown this standard at multiple competitions this year within the qualifying period. This will be an amazing opportunity, not only to represent England but also to compete against other javelin athletes from the Commonwealth countries.

The contribution to and support of her career by SportsAid Eastern has been invaluable, she says.

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