A HARTLEPOOL couple have been named heroes in their hometown for their efforts to promote sport.
Kath and Tony Evans were surprised at one of their badminton sessions by patrons of the charity, Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.
We have both got a tremendous amount of enjoyment out of sport and we have simply wanted to put as much back as possible.Tony Evans
Together the duo run Hartlepool Badminton Club, assist with coaching at Eldon Grove Tennis Club and help people with learning difficulties get to grips with tennis by coaching at their local sportability club.
In recognition of their efforts to help the community, they were presented with £1,000 from the foundation to give to a local good cause of their choice.
They shared the cash between the tennis and badminton clubs that are close to their hearts.
The couple also received a trophy and a meal for two at Mohujo’s Mexican restaurant in Billingham.
Their prize was presented by foundation patrons, Keith Miller, of Ecco Finishing Supplies, and Claire Davison, of Active Chartered Financial Planners.
Tony said: “We were speechless – and that doesn’t happen very often – but it’s really nice that someone has taken the trouble to recognise what we do on a voluntary basis.
“It’s extra special because it will help raise public awareness of grassroots sport across Hartlepool and get more people involved in tennis and badminton, which is what we strive for as volunteers.”
Tony, 65, and Kath, 71, have been coaching tennis and badminton for more than 20 years.
It was on the badminton court that Tony excelled, winning the 2006 European Masters mixed doubles for over-55s.
He added: “We have both got a tremendous amount of enjoyment out of sport and we have simply wanted to put as much back as possible.
“We want to give young people the chance to enjoy their sport and be the best, but there is more to coaching than the elite.
“We just want kids to play to the best of their ability so they are in a position to use sport to help their education because it has so many social and physical spin-offs.”
Tony and Kath, who have two children and two grandchildren, are joint head coaches at the badminton club, which is based at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, while they are also active committee members at Eldon Grove club, where they coach.
Philanthropic foundation patron Claire, who nominated Tony and Kath for the award, said: “They have both been an essential part of badminton and tennis clubs in Hartlepool for numerous years, with over 75 years of experience between them.
“They really are a very special couple. If it was not for their tremendous work ethic and community spirit I am certain that tennis and badminton would not be flourishing in Hartlepool.”