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Where are they now - Catching up with Sheffield Steelkings

13th November 2019

The 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards return to our screens on Tuesday 19 November and the people behind the amazing good causes you fund get their chance to shine. Ahead of this year’s broadcast, we decided to catch up with some of last year’s winning projects to see how life has been since their victory 12 months ago. Today, it’s the turn of Sheffield Steelkings, winners of Best Sports Project, and Jake Oakley, their club chairman.

Sheffield Steelkings Chairman Jake Oakley (Right) with Rachel Paget (Left)

Looking back, what was it like to win the Best Sports Project category in the National Lottery Awards last year?

It was an amazing experience, we didn’t really expect it, and to have been voted the best sports project for 2018 was just phenomenal. It’s a great accolade for our club.

How’s life been for the Steelkings since winning the National Lottery Award?

Life’s been great! We, as a club have gone from strength to strength. We managed to win both the British Para Ice Hockey League and the Playoff championships and completed the domestic double this year.

Our players strength, speed and skills have all improved, and the knowledge of the club and para ice hockey has improved drastically. We really have had an incredible year both on and off the ice.

Sheffield Steelkings celebrating their British League Championship

What’s in the future for the Steelkings? Do you have anything big lined up?

We do! Since winning the award, we’ve brought back our Learn to Sledge programme and attracted even more players. We are now in a position to be able to put out two teams into the league next season. It’s a testament to how much the squad and the sport have grown in Sheffield.

Admittedly, with this comes the slight headache of funding new specialist equipment to keep up with demand, but it’s a good problem to have.

Did you have any memorable celebrity run-ins on the night?

Former Olympian David Haye was sat on our table and it was great to have a chat with him. He was telling us about how he was National Lottery funded when he was starting out in the boxing world.

In the afterparty, we bumped into Martin from ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ which we loved, we got a selfie with him as well as Joe McFadden.

The best part was meeting the other nominees and exchanging stories with them. It was a great night, no funny stories but it was great to mingle with celebs and other amazing projects. It was just great fun all round.

Sheffield Steelkings with David Haye (Top Center) celebrating their National Lottery Awards win

We’re celebrating our 25th birthday this year do you remember the first draw?

Happy birthday! That’s a good question. My personal first memory was my dad playing it in the early days. He got 4 numbers and won £101! I remember it so clearly because at the time he gave me the £1 and I bought a bag of sweets from the supermarket where he collected it.

Do you have advice for projects looking to enter in the 2020 Awards?

Our advice is just to go for it. You’ll never know if you don’t try. You need people to believe in your project in order to vote for you but it’s like all things, especially the Lottery, you have to be in it to win it. It’s the same with the awards. It’s a great experience and brought a lot of attention to the Sheffield Steelking and the sport of para ice hockey.

Rebecca Moore competing with an opponent

The Sheffield Steelkings play in the British Para Ice Hockey League in the summer months and train all year round. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as finding their latest fixtures and upcoming Learn to Sledge classes on their website

You can watch The 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards on Tuesday 19th November at 11.45pm on BBC One, or catch up on BBC Iplayer from after the 20th September by clicking here: National Lottery Awards