Myrid Ramsay, Managing Partner of communications agency cobaltink on why Invictus, Stiveder and women’s rugby served up most memorable moments.
Picture by David Davies/PA Wire
For us, for me, and for so many others across the UK, this is the TV show that signals the start of Christmas proper. It is the recognition of the effort a raft of incredible athletes has put into their sport and the amazing results that they have achieved over the course of the previous 12 months.
There has been controversy about the 2014 winner, Lewis Hamilton. But isn’t there always some degree of sour grapes from interested tribes desperate to see their Number One lift the coveted title to become the best of the best?
Sitting in the auditorium it felt that McElroy was the champion-in-waiting. The predominantly Scottish crowd, who were perhaps it could be argued by natural extension mostly golf fans, raised the roof at each mention of his name.
While there was polite and surprisingly enthusiastic support for Dressage star Charlotte Dujardin, who polled fourth in the public vote, it was obvious whose endeavours in securing two major golf titles during the year had won the arena’s, and possibly the nation’s, hearts.
And while debate rages about who of these two successful and well-rewarded international sports stars should have walked away with the coveted trophy three very special and highly charged moments will remain in my mind. All of them for different reasons but all demonstrating the majesty of sporting endeavour.
The heartfelt and carefully chosen words of HRH Prince Harry when talking about the healing power of sport as he introduced the servicemen and women to the stage to represent this autumn’s The Invictus Games was inspiration enough. But they paled as he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the embodiment of the Games themselves, the men and women those games had worked so hard to transform. His achievement has been significant of course, but it is as nothing in comparison to the long road that these sportsmen and women have travelled. No-one sat as they were presented with the Helen Rollason Award, how could we?
Our second moment was watching one of this country’s unsung heroes receive the same recognition due the multi-millionaires of the sporting world. When 77-year-old Jill Stidever collected the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero award for helping children with disabilities learn to swim it was another golden moment to cherish and be thankful for those like her in communities across the UK.
As one of those who nominated her said simply: “She inspires people.” Remain in your seat in the presence of such understated grace and personal achievement? Not likely.
And finally a result which was a wonderful surprise. A woman’s team lifted the Team of the Year accolade. A predominantly male preserve for as long as I can remember, this has been the preserve of either all-men or at a push mixed teams. As the England women’s rugby team was read out my first thought was ‘what an amazing milestone for women’s sport’. When captain Katy McLean said just that moments later on receiving the award on behalf of the team it felt like an echo inside my head. And of course she is right. And of course I was on my feet, again.
Cobaltink met with Scottish Women In Sport last week to offer whatever help we can in forwarding their aims and ambitions for women’s sport. They work tirelessly to promote women in all aspects of sport and have considerable sporting and political endorsement from across the sporting landscape in Scotland.
For me it felt that perhaps, just perhaps, the tide is turning, that women’s sport is being seen as valid, as enthralling, as exciting as the men’s. It has always been, it’s just the perception has been otherwise.
With the announcement that the England Women’s Sevens squad would be turning professional after SPOTY the subtext to a rather wonderful evening dedicated to the power and wonder of sporting endeavour was underscored.
And no amount of bickering about who should have, who could have won could diminish an evening which underlined the greater good that sport in all its forms can deliver.
Sir Chris Hoy, my deep regret. What a touching speech, a lovely man and what an honour to be there when he collected his Lifetime Achievement Award. The auditorium stood as one on hearing his name in a fitting tribute for a true gentleman of sport. And while we tried to get close to him at the After Show Party this kindest knight of the realm was almost drowning in requests for selfies and a moment of his time.
Surrounded by sporting legends we declined to push in. In the cold light of day, I wish I had now!