Sports Awards: Paddy Patterson award thrusts unsung hero into the spotlight
There are many people across Northern Ireland who dedicate so much time and effort to sport over many years without receiving the recognition they deserve.
At the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards on January 29, one such person will be rewarded for their remarkable contributions to their sport with the Paddy Patterson Services to Sport Award, sponsored by Linwoods.
The accolade is one of the few that isn't necessarily given to an athlete, rather the winner's service may have been as an administrator, manager or coach.
Yet again the list of past winners is packed with recognisable names who have given so much to Northern Ireland sport over the course of several years and, for some, decades.
Previous recipients include Dame Mary Peters, rower Bobby Platt, cricketer Roy Torrens, badminton's Bob Colhoun and Athletics NI chairman David Seaton, who won last year.
The award is named in honour of the late Paddy Patterson, a great public servant who gave service throughout his lifetime to the education and sport sectors and, in particular, his beloved rugby.
A mathematician at Grosvenor High School, Patterson was founder of Grosvenor's post-primary club and of the Ulster Referees' Society and drove the IRFU to start their Charitable Trust.
Paddy was a founder member of the NICPR, which is now the Northern Ireland Sports Forum, and sat on the board for many years, including a decade as chairman from 1978-88, and inaugurated the first NICPR Services to Sports Award, which now carries his name.
Because of this, the award is also made by the Northern Ireland Sports Forum, who have backed it for many years and continue to pay tribute to those who work tirelessly to make our sporting scene what it is today.
Sponsors Linwoods are a local bakery who focus on making healthy foods to sell across the world, encouraging others to lead more active and healthy lifestyles.
The company have sponsored the award before, and have also been lead sponsors of the whole awards ceremony, and they continue their backing this year.
Sarah Shimmons, head of marketing at Linwoods, commented: "As one of Northern Ireland's leading health food brands, Linwoods is passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and we are delighted to be a sponsor at this year's Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, sponsoring the Paddy Patterson Services to Sport category.
"This award is a great opportunity to celebrate those who have shown dedication to their sport over the past year and we're thrilled to play a part in recognising their achievements.
"Linwoods is a family-owned and managed business and we have a strong history in promoting real health, as well as in supporting sportspeople and sporting organisations across Northern Ireland.
"We are firm believers that healthy eating doesn't have to be hard work and can be easily incorporated into your daily life. Our product range includes a variety of different blends of healthy seeds, nuts and berries and healthy snacks and they are a great way of including a natural source of much-needed nutrients into your diet to help fuel your body - whether that be for day-to-day life or for sport.
"The Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards celebrates professionals from across Northern Ireland, and recognises grassroots sporting heroes and our up and coming young stars, and we're looking forward to meeting many of them on the night.
"We wish all those entering this year's awards the very best of luck."