Kate O’Sullivan wins regional BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero Award

The Tees RC coach and Deputy Chair of British Rowing has been named as this year’s Unsung Hero for the North East and Cumbria region


Kate (centre) with fellow coaches Rebecca Graham and Tom Hillier at the 2023 British Rowing Junior Championships with the Tees RC bronze medalists in OJ18 4x

The award recognises volunteers who go above and beyond to bring sport and physical activity to their local community at grassroots level, and demonstrate a passion for encouraging others to take part in a sport.

Kate said, “Winning the BBC SPOTY Unsung Hero Award for the North East and Cumbria Region is an amazing honour to recognise my work but more importantly it is an amazing honour for everyone involved with rowing in all its forms and I hope it can be used to showcase our beautiful sport to those yet to discover it.

“Contrary to some people’s perception, rowing is completely accessible to anyone. On any day of the week it is enjoyed by all the generations. At Tees RC our membership ranges from the ages of 12 to 80+. We get to row on one of the most beautiful rivers in the country.

“The British Rowing community itself is genuinely my extended family and has been there for me at significant times in my life and for that I am grateful. Rowing, like all sports, really does build bridges across communities, and there is some brilliant work going on around the country 365 days of the year, driven by a ‘workforce’ – many of whom are volunteers – that is opening up the opportunities for literally anyone to get involved.

“I have been a member of Tees RC since 1985.  Based in Stockton on Tees, the club is thriving. I am working with Teesside University to offer their students the opportunity to experience rowing, and I am delighted to say that Infinity BC is a new club down in Stockton whose focus is working in partnership with the local schools to ensure that literally every child in the area has the chance to row and I am so excited to see how that project develops. Other projects include running a rowing programme for young carers and developing a beach sprint/coastal offering in Redcar.

“It would be wrong of me not to thank Liz Behnke who nominated me and my family for their support, and I must acknowledge the other members of the Tees RC Junior Coaching Team whose support enables me to work on other projects and fulfil my duties as the Deputy Chair of British Rowing, Andy Pickering, Fiona Ventress, Tom Hillier, Rebecca Graham, Michele Holdsworth and Steven Leigh – you are an amazing team.

“I really hope this award can be used to bring more people into the sport in whatever capacity but also to tempt some people back.”

BBC Sport has received an unprecedented number of nominations and the BBC’s 15 nations and regions will announce their winners at the start of December. The overall winner of the Unsung Hero Award from amongst the BBC’s 15 nations and regions will be announced live at the Sports Personality of the Year awards show, which will take place on Tuesday, 19 December at MediaCityUK in Salford.