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Friends of Mary Peters group launched

By Jim Gracey

Great Dame Mary Peters has more friends than your average Facebook follower.

And now our Olympic Golden Girl is inviting them to join together under a single sporting banner.

The Friends of Mary Peters group is being formed as an offshoot to her already flourishing Mary Peters Trust which has been financially aiding young sportsmen and women here to achieve their goals over the four decades since her 1972 Pentathlon gold medal success at the Munich Games.

The idea came from former international athlete Paul Lawther, an early beneficiary.

Dame Mary picked up the baton and now the many hundreds of reward recipients, some now world famous in their fields, like Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and David Healy, and, indeed, all supporters of Northern Ireland sport, are being asked to band together in a Friends of Mary Peters association with a view to helping further the aims of the Trust.

Recent Belfast Telegraph Making A Difference award winner Dame Mary, explained: “When Paul Lawther spoke to me about what the Trust assistance meant to him all those years ago and how it inspired him to keep competing and improving, I just wondered who else had a story to tell?

“I would love to hear from more of those we have aided down the years or even anyone who wants to be kept in touch with the young athletes of today and how they are progressing.”

Paul Lawther added: “My sport was athletics and, in my early days, the award I was given by the Mary Peters Trust helped me in my sporting career.

“I was a GB international and sub four minute miler, AAA junior champion and record holder at 1500m and European junior holder at 2000m. At one point I held all Northern Ireland records from 800m through to 3000m steeplechase.

“I would never have achieved this without the support I received from the Mary Peters Trust. It made a considerable difference at the time and has helped me in many ways since then.

“Already we have recruited Ian Corry, the first ever award recipient for swimming, former hockey star Jenny Redpath, another early recipient and whose hockey-playing son Steven has been funded by the Trust, Andy McMorran who is well known in footballing coaching circles and Terry Crothers who is a long standing Trustee and works with Commonwealth Games teams and the Irish Ladies Golfing Union.

“It's a great opportunity to support and help underpin Mary's sporting legacy and we'd like to see many more join the ranks of the Friends of Mary Peters.”

No cost is involved, simply write, email or phone with your contact details to Mary Peters Trust, House of Sport, Upper Malone Road, Belfast, BT9 5LA; email or phone 028 90 383830.

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