Sports Awards 2023 - Unsung Hero Shortlist | Sport at Cambridge skip to content

Sports Awards 2023 - Unsung Hero Shortlist

The Unsung Hero award recognises the individuals who do all the work in the background to make things happen.  

They keep the club activities going and take the club to the next level. Often, these individuals go beyond the call of duty to improve clubs, solve problems, and create an all-round good environment in which club members can thrive.  

Got your tickets for the big event yet? Reserve them for free, and join us to see who is crowned Unsung Hero at the Sports Awards Event on Monday 19th June. 


Here's more about each of our fantastic nominees:  

1. Dom Dakin (Emmanuel), Orienteering Club 

As Vice-Captain, Dom’s enthusiasm for CUOC and for enabling as many people as possible to discover orienteering has been admirable. He organised the Icenian Event in February, in which young and old, local clubs and uni clubs from all around England (as the event was also the English Uni Champs) took part. Organising the event was no mean feat with hours spent trawling round businesses in Cambridge science park getting permissions from each of them to be able to use the areas outside their buildings – not an easy task. Dom also planned half of the courses for the event, made a professional website/entry system (making it easy to advertise) and encouraged and organised the volunteers from the club. The event was a huge success, with over 300 people attending and many commenting on how well-organised it was. Additionally, he arranged the accommodation for the university clubs coming to the event and a social meal in the evening.

The other main event CUOC host is the biennial Cambridge City race. In 2021 we failed to get permissions to use any of the colleges; to avoid this happening again Dom started on the task of getting permissions in November 2022 (a year in advance of the event) attending multiple meetings with different college bursars, head gardeners, and head porters. We now have permissions for 11 colleges and 5 University department sites, which should enable the event (in October) to be a great success (one of the main selling points for entries is that you get to explore some of Cambridge’s colleges). His dedication to making this event happen was also because it ensures the club has sufficient finances to subsidise entry and travel to races for the next year – something he is extremely committed to such that orienteering can be open to as many people as possible.

In Michaelmas, he planned the first 4 training sessions of term to be oriented towards helping new-comers get involved – over 60 people gave orienteering a go. This also partially fulfilled the requirements of his Level 2 coaching course – which will enable him to contribute to the improvement of CUOC in the future. CUOC membership has risen by 20% this year – much of this I think is down to his efforts. On top of this, Dom successfully wrote the application for CUOC to host BUCS in 2024, which should further aid the club’s growth.  None of this has dampened his enthusiasm for the club – he led the revival of post-training socials (which had tailed off due to COVID) – and was still always happy to do the more day-to-day tasks like researching transport options to races and planning some of our weekly training sessions. He has achieved the criteria for his Half-Blue this year, showing he successfully balances all this background work alongside his development as an orienteer.  


2. Georgina Chamberlain (King's), Clay Pigeon Shooting Club  

Georgie, our President and Women's captain, with her relentless determination, endless work and inspirational commitment has taken the CUCPSC almost single-handedly to perhaps the club’s most successful year ever.

To start the year off Georgie took the lead on organising taster sessions for over 100 people over just two weekends organising transport, shotguns, coaches with the help of the committee she ensured that everyone (who all had little-no experience) got the opportunity to safely experience clay pigeon shooting. As a result, we had to cap the number of members signing up at around 120 to ensure we could get everyone in the club out to shoot. The success of the club continued throughout term with new and old members training extensively for BUCS.

At the end of term Cambridge sent the largest contingent of any UK university owing to Georgie’s persistence in encouraging members (especially those with less experience) to sign up. The training and improvement of both inexperienced members and long-time shooters resulted in Cambridge’s best performance in many years with 3rd place in both the Men’s and Women’s. Georgie supported a particularly enthusiastic new member to a place in the Women’s team that achieved third despite the fact she had never shot clays before joining the club.The training resulting in the club’s success at BUCS continued into lent term with Georgie training obsessively alongside organising coaching and the teams. The opportunities she has given to both the newest shooters to improve at their own (impressive pace) and the best shooters (not least herself) to push to improve have been unparalleled.

Her determination for not only herself but the club to succeed is what, more than anything else, led us to one of our most successful Varsity competitions. Georgie drove both the Women’s A and B teams to devastating victories against Oxford with both teams smashing 50% more targets than their competitors. Her own target was to beat our men’s A team who have individually shot more than the women’s team combined, at Varsity they equalled the Cambridge men’s team thereby beating all the Oxford men’s teams. Resulting from her hard work Cambridge walked away with all but one piece of silverware; we won the Women’s A and B teams, the Men’s A team and the High Gun trophies. Despite so much of her focus being spent on organising Varsity with The Other Place both beforehand and on the day, she retained the Women’s High gun trophy. Georgie has also encouraged one of the largest Alumni attendances ever to a Varsity, hence we also won the Alumni team trophy.Georgie puts more work into making the club run than anyone appreciates, without her we would be a small ragtag group of students who have shot for years with no real intent. Instead, we offer incredible opportunities for everyone of any ability to enjoying shooting and we beat Oxford by a country mile. 

Georgie has held the club up on her back alone this year. Not only is she a fourth year medical student, but as our president she has gone above and beyond. Without her, this year would not have gone ahead. She has organised and coordinated varsity alone as well as multiple other events, and organised the very complicated training sessions each week. She is also the best performing member of our club, and the highest scorer, now training for the Olympics. Georgie has taken on these roles with no second thought, she has effectively run the club alone and done so excellently. She has been the greatest leader and deserves recognition.  


3. Matthew Griffiths (Trinity), Boat Club 

Matthew has coached the CUBC lightweight women's squad for the last year and a half, this year as their main coach. He has done this entirely on a volunteer basis around working full time as CTO of his company.  During this time, he has coached the lightweights to two consecutive wins, an incredible feat considering there was no overlap of athletes between the two crews. Last year at BUCS, the lightweights won every single lightweight crew event, and Matthew also coached two crews to Henley Women's Regatta wins later that summer. Two athletes from this winning lightweight blue boat last year raced in the openweight boats this year. 

This year, Matthew was the sole coach of the lightweights for much of the year and led a squad of 10 new athletes to wins in the Lightweight Women's Boat Race and the Lightweight Women's spares race. Most of these athletes were college rowers and he supported their step up to the university team for the first time. His attention to detail and positive attitude was praised by the whole squad. Matthew is stepping down as main coach of the lightweight women's squad, but his impact will be felt for years to come.   


4. Muireann De h-Ora (Wolfson), Australian Rules Football Club  

Muireann has been an inspirational, dedicated and determined club president this season. She has built a strong leadership team enabling the club to harness all its members in the best way, allocating clearly defined roles making optimal use of each individuals skill sets. She has gone over and above to ensure the club is an inclusive, open and safe environment for every one of all genders including re-naming the teams and ensuring the clubs we compete against adhere to our inclusive ethos. Muireann has brought in new sponsors, overseen a significant increase in player numbers, organised an incredible overseas tour to Malmo, Sweden & brought on board a new highly qualified coaching team. Under Muireann’s leadership the club continues to go from strength to strength. She leads by example, goes over and above and is an aspirational leader in so many ways.  

Muireann took on the CUARFC club president role this year and has led the club through a difficult period of change, with constant positivity and a can do attitude. She has put in place numerous positive changes that help to make the club more inclusive and sustainable. These include establishing a much needed coaching and leadership team to boost player development, recruiting more players enabling larger teams for the varsity match, renaming teams for improved gender inclusivity, and securing a set of new sponsors from the local and international community to provide free fitness training sessions, subsidise more affordable kit, and bring the varsity match back to its traditional home of St John’s Pitches. Overall, the club is reinvigorated with a sense of renewed vigour due to Muireann’s selfless efforts.  


5. Tads Ciecierski-Holmes (Wolfson), Modern Pentathlon Club  

Tads is the glue of Cambridge University Modern Pentathlon Club (CUMPC). He is the ‘behind-the-scenes’, ‘unsung hero’ who ensures the club keeps running to a high standard.

This year he has been the key organiser of the club’s traditional events; Novice Varsity, Old Blues, pre-season training, and Annual Dinner. Tads’ car and Tads are both regularly used to ferry Pentathletes and the abundance of Pentathlon equipment to Novice Varsity, Old Blues, BUCS, Regional Fencing, Oxford Army Pentathlon, and Varsity competitions as well as to riding lessons, pre-season training, and anything else that he has often also been involved in organising. Tads has foresight to make sure everyone has the equipment they need to perform their best, as well as organising and competing himself. He is the mastermind behind the logistics of cars and equipment. Tads drove 387 miles in one day to take a Pentathlete to get their 1.10m signoff for show jumping, allowing them to compete at the higher level and maximum point scoring opportunity at Varsity the week later. This athlete then proceeded to win the show jumping round at Varsity with a clear round and fastest time closest to the optimum time. It also was a large contributing factor to CUMPC’s clean sweep in winning everything at Varsity due to the number of points they scored. Tads was part of the winning men’s team and overall team wins.

Tads formed a partnership between CUMPC, Dev Squad Swimming, and Cambridge University Triathlon (CUTriC), which involved coordinating shared pool time and coaching saving each club £2000 each over the year. He has also formed partnerships with Cambridge University Fencing and CUTriC and Hare and Hounds for strength and conditioning training.  Alongside making sure everyone in the club is catered for, Tads also has capacity to compete at a very high level himself. He came 3rd in BUCS in 2023 (1st in BUCS in 2022), came 4th at Varsity (missing out on 1st place due to a tricky horse that neither Cambridge nor Oxford could get round). He came 2nd at BUCS regional fencing, won Old Blues and came 2nd at Oxford Army Pentathlon. He always goes above and beyond his roles; Vice President (2023), President (2022), Treasurer (2019), because he knows that details and the small things matter. Even if an action seems small at the time, such as driving someone to get a sign off, or putting in the effort of memory photos for club leavers, he knows it can have a large and positive consequence. He cares about every member of CUMPC and the other clubs we partner with. He really is an amazing athlete, leader, and unsung hero.  


6. Will Appleby (Magdalene), Amateur Boxing Club  

Will Appleby is President Emeritus of the CUABC this year, having presided over the club in the 2021-2022 season. Running the boxing club is a mammoth undertaking, and without Will Appleby, the return of Varsity Boxing this year and the continuation of the oldest continual boxing fixture in the world would genuinely have been endangered. He is a fantastic boxer in his own right and his love for the CUABC is a thing of marvel.

It is difficult to fully describe or comprehend the personal exertion and sacrifice that went into negotiating the terms of a new Boxing Varsity contract in the oldest continually boxing fixture in the world. But it is a selfless and unforgiving task with which Will Appleby has dedicated his time to. It's important to recognise that he was not alone in this, and that immeasurable praise is due to Molly Munro and Rushi Singh Dasoondi. But for this award, I would like to add a special mention to Will Appleby because his work has spanned 2 continual years of unrelenting graft. And for that, myself and the 20-odd Varsity Fighters over two years, the 100 or so Blue's Squad fighters, the genuine thousands of boxers in the wider CUABC community and alumni will be forever indebted.

So, on behalf of the CUABC from 2021 through to 2023 and the future, we would like to extend our gratitude. It is the least that I could do to nominate Will for this award, and I hope the sporting community at Cambridge recognises this too.