A roller-coaster year for Clare Griffen, the West Wight Sports and Community Centre manager, hit another high last week.
Clare, who won the Vitality Sunday Times Grassroots Sportswoman of the Year Award last year, was invited back for this year’s online ceremony as part of a panel to discuss the effect the pandemic has had on local sport.
The panel was chaired by Sunday Times sports journalist Rebecca Myers and also included Alex Wallace, the 2018 winner, and Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds.
Clare said: “Last year, I attended a huge presentation with all sorts of sports stars, but that couldn’t happen this year. It was all done online and it was very professional. There were video montages of all the nominees in each category and then a sports celebrity would announce each winner. In the middle of all this myself, Alex and Ellie spoke about how Covid had affected sport at grassroots level.
“Alex helps organise sports stars to visit schools, so obviously her work was badly hit, while Ellie explained how she would have been in training for the Tokyo Olympics. I was able to explain how the sports centre was closed down and then reinvented itself as the West Wight Hub, with hundreds of volunteers supporting the local area by delivering hot meal, picking up prescriptions and shopping.
“The whole occasion was very inspiring and it was a huge honour to be part of it. I was also able to get the Isle of Wight on the map, and, especially, the West Wight.”
Clare’s amazing year has also included being awarded the MBE and meeting the Earl of Wessex when Prince Edward paid a private visit to the sports centre during the summer. She added: “It’s been a real roller coaster. It seems the highs and lows of my whole career have taken place in the last 12 months; it’s been an incredible year in incredible circumstances.
“But it doesn’t stop now. We have been busy getting the sports centre ready for this week’s reopening and the West Wight Hub is here to stay and we will continue to make deliveries and collections for anyone who needs our help.”
To find out more about the West Wight Hub, phone 752168.