This Friday, Worcestershire's Rio 2016 athletes are set to become some of the first recipients of a new Worcestershire award – the Black Pear Award
To celebrate World Class Worcestershire www.worldclassworcestershire.co.uk those who have championed the county and have helped to raise its profile are to be presented with an award that's unique to Worcestershire – a black pear tree.
Worcestershire is a county that has so much to boast about. Its economy is one of the fastest growing in the country, its university is amongst the best in the UK for getting graduates into work and by Royal command the county has a coat of arms that's unlike almost any other.
Rather than a blue plaque on the wall or a gold painted post box, Evesham rower Alex Gregory along with Paralympians Claire Cashmore, Lauren Rowles, Becky Redfern and GB Wheelchair Basketball Men’s Head Coach, Haj Bhania, are to be the first ever people to be presented with their very own Worcestershire Black Pear Tree. The official awards ceremony will take place at Evesham Rowing Club on Friday 28 October at 1:30pm. We hope to encourage as many people to come along and cheer on the athletes as they collect their award.
The Black Pear appears on the county's flag. It can be seen in the Council Chamber at County Hall and it's proudly worn by the county's professional cricketers.
Claire Cashmore, who returned home from Rio as Paralympic champion in the Women's 4x100m Medley relay and silver medallist in the Women's SB8 100m Breaststroke said: "Receiving this prestigious award is a great honour and something I will treasure forever. It means a lot as Worcestershire is where my journey to becoming a Paralympian started. I was swimming at Wyre Forest swimming club when I competed at my first Paralympic Games in Athens and the ongoing support they have given me has been fantastic. I just want to say a massive thank-you to all of Worcestershire for your support!".
Gregory who won a gold medal, rowing in the men's coxless four for Great Britain at Rio said: "The support I've received from Worcestershire is not just a recent thing. I've been supported since first taking up rowing at Evesham rowing club 16 years ago. The journey has not been straight forward and through many difficult times the messages of support from people in the county have meant everything to me. Now I can repay that support with two Olympic Gold medals, a part of which belong to the people of Worcestershire. Thank you for the award, it's truly an honour to receive a Worcestershire Black Pear tree."
Worcestershire County Councillor Lucy Hodgson, the Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Localism and Communities, is supporting the initiative. She said "The black pear is synonymous with Worcestershire and a fitting way to celebrate the achievements of our local heroes. Our sporting heroes certainly fit the bill with their amazing Olympic and Paralympic successes making them the perfect people to pick up this new Worcestershire award."
More winners of the Black Pear Award will be named shortly. People can also nominate those who they think should receive this unique prize which is open to individuals, companies and to organisations who have championed Worcestershire and represent the best of what this county has to offer.
To make a nomination just visit the World Class Worcestershire website: www.worldclassworcestershire.co.uk and go to the Get Involved section.