“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” said Pip Bell as she reflected on her success.
But Pip’s dedication to women’s rugby, and to her aims of bringing the sport back into Hartlepool, is the reason why she was honoured with a special achievement award.
This is already a special year for Pip, 33. It is her 25th season in women’s rugby.
She played the sport in Hartlepool between 1988 and 2008 for teams including West Hartlepool and Hartlepool Old Boys Women.
She played at Twickenham in 1996 and to this day, has rarely missed a chance to play.
Her only absence from the sport was during an injury lay-off in 2009.
Judges heard that, when Pip started playing rugby it was an uphill struggle getting accepted in a male dominated sport. But this never put her off getting involved in the game.
Pip now plays rugby in Darlington, but is still involved in trying to get women’s rugby started again in Hartlepool.
She added: “Rugby is my life but it is not just about the sport.
“It is about the friends you make and the lessons you learn.
“Hartlepool is such a rugby town and it would be really nice to have women’s rugby back in this town.”
Judges praised PIp for working hard to bring the sport back into grass roots levels of rugby within the town.