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Legends of Orkney sport to be honoured

From the left: Catherine Johnson, Gary Burton and Mick Swanney. (Orkney Photographic)

A sporting Hall of Fame is to be established in Orkney, celebrating the very best in achievement and dedication.

The first of its kind in the islands, the Hall of Fame will champion the vast accomplishments achieved by the county’s most famed and revered sportsmen and women, and will also honour those who, in a voluntary role, have selflessly provided a long and meritorious service to sport.

Recognising and paying homage to the legendary figures in Orkney sport, the Hall of Fame will shine a light on the achievements of these inspirational athletes.

Alongside these role models will be the names of those who work in the background whose dedication, effort and skills have proven crucial, and without whom sport would not happen.

The first inductees will be announced in the new year during a virtual sports evening, and have their name immortalised in writing at Kirkwall Grammar School.

However, before that can take place, nominations must be submitted from the public.

Organisers behind the Hall of Fame are urging the public to put forward the candidates they believe should be entered into this prestigious Hall of Fame, and whose name deserves this unique place in history.

Orkney Islands Council’s Active Schools team supported by sportscotland, are taking the lead in organising the Hall of Fame.

Active Schools coordinator Catherine Johnson explained: “At a time when our sporting scene has been heavily affected by the pandemic, it did not feel appropriate to host our annual Sports Awards.

“When our immediate path is somewhat uncertain, it was felt that launching our very own Orkney Hall of Fame would act as a great boost to the local community, providing an opportunity to recognise and celebrate our inspirational sportsmen and women.”

“For a small island group, we have such a proud history in sporting achievement. But sometimes we are maybe not as vocal as we should be in promoting this success.

“That is why the Hall of Fame has been initiated — it is an opportunity for those who have dedicated their lives to receive the recognition and credit they deserve.”

Describing how the process will work, Ms Johnson said the first step must come from the public in nominating a deserving individual.

This can be anyone — living or deceased — from any sport, and it is expected that those who are nominated will have contributed significantly to their chosen sport.

In terms of athletes, they must have represented Orkney or equivalent in a team or as an individual, and they must have retired or completed their highest level of competition.

In exceptional circumstances, where a performance of outstanding athletic achievement warrants special recognition, consideration will be given to those who are still competing at the highest level.

With nominees from an earlier era, who perhaps had limited opportunity to compete at an elite level, the opinions of sporting peers, clubs and associations will be sought.

To be eligible for selection as a volunteer, a significant period of service, and the contribution of administrators, coaches, managers and those in supporting roles, including technical officials and referees, will be recognised.

Those who have also played a role in sport’s legacy, such as authors and photographers, will also be considered.

“The sporting world here in Orkney is rich and varied,” said Ms Johnson. “And the Hall of Fame is open to every single eligible candidate, regardless of the sport or sports they are, or were, invested in.

“So, whether it is in the swimming pool, on the football pitch, playing rugby, or out on the golf course, we want to hear from the people of Orkney as to who should be the first inductees into the Orkney Hall of Fame.

“Our athletes dedicate themselves to their sport, becoming inspirations and positive role models, and it is only right that we promote these athletes whose achievements set themselves apart from the rest.

“But, as with any sustainable sporting environment, we must also pay tribute to the contributions of those who ensure sport takes place in the first place — whose dedication and commitment has been integral to the development of sport within the county.

“I urge the Orkney people to help us shine a light on these people, and submit our short nomination forms.”

Nominations will be open until Friday, December 11, 2020.

Successful Hall of Fame nominees will be announced at a virtual awards evening on Friday, January 22, 2021.

Nomination forms for Orkney’s Sporting Hall of Fame can be downloaded here; by email: leisure.culture@orkney.gov.uk; or by telephone: (01856) 873535, extension 2415.