'She is incredible' - Myra's lifetime serving netball earns national award
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A woman from Norwich, who has dedicated over six decades of her life to netball, has been recognised with a national sporting award for her “loyal and charismatic” efforts.
Myra Hawtree, 82, of Sprowston, was recently nominated for an unsung hero award at England Netball’s 2020 Vitality GoaldenGlobe Netball Volunteer Awards.
This year’s awards paved the way for the first ever virtual Goalden Globe Awards, streamed live on the England Netball YouTube channel.
There were 31 award recipients throughout the night, from those giving their service to netball for over 25 years, to those who kept the game going during a difficult year.
A star-studded evening, which saw more than 750 people watch live, boasted a number of special guests from both within netball and the wider sporting landscape, such as Clare Balding, former Olympic champion Denise Lewis, and England Cricket captain and Vitality ambassador Heather Knight.
Mrs Hawtree, a grandmother-of-four, said she was “delighted” to have received the award, but most of all to help raise the profile of netball in Norfolk.
She has lived in Norwich most of her life, apart from a spell in Stalham when she had her two daughters, but moved back to the city when her husband Bernard passed away.
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She remembers playing the sport during her time at Thorpe Hamlet Junior School, and said: "I would go home for my lunch, then run back to school as quickly as possible to play netball for the rest of break.”
She continued playing at Blyth Girls Grammer School, now Sewell Park Academy, before leaving at 16 to work at Norwich Union before it became Aviva.
“They had a big sports club there at the time, and you could play every sport there was. I joined the netball club there. At one point, we had five netball teams on the go.
“That was when I became involved with the Netball League community.”
In 1960/61, Mrs Hawtree became treasurer, a role she maintains to this day. She eventually left Norwich Union and became involved in Wren Netball Club.
She also played for Norfolk County and a season for East Regional during the sixties.
During the awards, Jess Rogers, of England Netball, introduced the unsung hero award category and explained that the award was “given to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to netball through the delivery of club or local league netball”.
Each nominee also needed to have volunteered for a minimum of five years in different roles within the sport.
Paralympic and Vitality ambassador, Ellie Simmonds, presented Mrs Hawtree with her award.
She said: “Every finalist is an absolutely unsung hero in my eyes but there can only be one unsung hero winner.
“Myra has been an active member of the Wren Netball club and also a constant member of the Norwich Netball League by being a treasurer for over 60 years.
“Her loyalty and her charisma and everything she that she does is absolutely incredible.
“She deserves this award. Congratulations and well done.”
Jenny Day, Norfolk netball development officer for England Netball, added: “Each year we run an award ceremony to recognise our volunteers in the game.
“This year has been very different for netballers and we were pleased to nominate Myra Hawtree for East Region Goalden Globe unsung hero award, as she has been on the Norwich and District Netball League for 60 years as treasurer.
“I am pleased she was announced winner for the East Region and went forward to the National Goalden Globe. For her recognition as treasurer she was awarded the National Award for 2020.
“A fantastic achievement for her and netball in Norfolk.”
But what is it which attracted, and kept, Mrs Hawtree’s passion for the sport?
“The people I’ve met and stayed in touch with over the years," she explains.
“Also, when you play, you’re a very close-knit team, as there’s only seven of you. You stay involved and are in the game all the time.”