The winners of the scholarship were Abigail Burton (Rugby 7s), Daniel Dixon (Triathlon), Kieran Rollings (Para Lawn Bowls), Lucy Turmel (Squash) and Tom Jarvis (Table Tennis).
With a home Games in Birmingham in 2022, each athlete striving to compete at the Games received a share of £50,000, to support them in achieving their sporting goals. Four of the five recipients went on to be selected for Birmingham, with Abigail Burton missing out through injury. Two even went on to secure bronze medals, contributing to the medal tally at Team England’s most successful Games yet.
Kieran Rollings finished third in the Para Men’s Pairs at Birmingham 2022, improving on his fourth-place finish in the para-triples event on the Gold Coast in 2018, where he became the youngest ever English lawn bowls competitor.
Looking back on how the scholarship benefitted his performance, Rollings said:
“The fund helped get rid of my financial burdens/worry to compete within the sport and has allowed me to focus on performing at the highest level. Over the past for 4 years, I have grown from strength to strength winning 5 county championships, 5 national titles and many finalists or semi-finalists within club, county and national competitions”
Kieran Rollings made his Team England debut in para lawn bowls at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. He became the youngest ever English lawn bowls competitor, playing in the para-triples event at just 18-years-old.
Rollings was the only athlete selected who had already experienced competing at a Commonwealth Games. For the other four winners, the funding was designed to give them an opportunity to progress through to the Team England selections, boosting their chances to compete for the nation on home soil in 2022.
Table tennis player Tom Jarvis from Skegness left home at the age of 16 to train in Sweden for four years. The England Men’s National Champion has competed at various international championships and was a travelling reserve for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. At Birmingham 2022, producing a performance beyond his own expectation, he went on to win a bronze medal in the Men’s Team event.
Reflecting on how the scholarship helped his recovery from major hip surgery last year, Jarvis noted how he was able to use the funding to travel to a number of international tournaments, aiding his return to optimal fitness ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
“The Sir John Hanson scholarship is a really exclusive programme, so I’m honoured that my hard work and potential has been noticed. It’s been a really exciting project to be part of and I’m proud to have received all of the support that came with it.”
Lucy Turmel, a squash player from Ipswich, Suffolk, is mentored by Commonwealth silver medallist Laura Massaro. Turmel has seen national success with winning a number of British titles as well as taking the European junior crown in 2018. She was successful in being selected for Team England at Birmingham 2022.
Speaking on the reasons she felt were behind her selection for the scholarship, she said:
“The scholarship has helped me in a number of ways and it took so much financial stress away from me and allowed me to do what I needed to be in the best place possible physically and mentally. In November last year I made a big decision to change coaches. My new coach lives in America (where I am currently). I knew he was the right fit and person to help develop and improve me as a squash player. Of course, flights back and forth to America can be expensive but the trips I made for training camps with him were necessary for my preparation and the award has helped me hugely with this.”
“I’m very grateful to have been awarded this grant and opportunity. People believing in my aspirations is so important and I’ll do my upmost to reach my potential and goals".
Northumberland based triathlete Daniel Dixon is a 3 x British Youth Triathlon Champion, 2 x Super League Youth Triathlon Champion and is also one of only a few athletes to have won a Riga ETU European Cup at the age of just 16. He was selected to compete for Team England at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, finishing an incredible 12th, in what is his first season in the senior age category.
Dan stated that the altitude camp he was able to attend in January alongside his personal coach through the funding was a significant factors towards being selected for the Commonwealth Games.
He said: “The fact that I’ve had this scholarship has been really beneficial because I’ve been able to use the funding to help me go out to more races than I could have otherwise gone to. In terms of that helping to leapfrog me into the Commonwealth Games, that extra racing experience helped me get to a position where I started to think about qualifying for Birmingham, so it’s really important and I’m so grateful for having that funding behind me. Getting to compete at a home Commonwealth Games was absolutely amazing. The most special thing was having everyone who’s helped me get to where I am today come and watch me in that moment.”
Abigail Burton, from Castleford, joined the England Women’s Sevens programme in June 2018 and made her debut in the World Sevens Series in October the same year. Unfortunately, Burton suffered from a severe ankle injury leading up to and during the Games but said that the funding had enabled her to use cryotherapy sessions as part of her recovery.
She also went on to highlight the support she has received in her battle to regain fitness from Team England’s President, Denise Lewis, and Athlete Representative, Aimee Willmott, as part of the educational sessions offered through the programme.
In a tough competition to be part of the programme, Team England received over 70 full applications that met the selection criteria and were supported by sporting Governing bodies.
The athletes also embarked on an education programme to support them on their journey.
The £50,000 award was made possible by a private donation from former British diplomat Sir John Hanson.
Sport: Rugby Sevens
Hometown: Castleford, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
- Joined the England Women’s Sevens programme in June 2018
- Debut on the World Sevens Series in October 2018
- Captained U18 Hartpury side
- Represented England and won the title in U18 European Championships
Hometown: Morpeth, Northumberland
- Competed for Team England at Birmingham 2022
- Riga ETU European Cup Champion
- 3 × British Youth/Junior Triathlon Champion
- 2 × Super League Youth Triathlon Champion
Sport: Lawn Bowls (para)
Hometown: Kettering, Northamptonshire
- Bronze in the Para Men’s Pairs at Birmingham 2022
- Youngest ever English lawn bowls competitor for the CWG on the Gold Coast
- 4th in para-triples on the Gold Coast
- Disability Bowls England National Single and Pairs titles
Hometown: Ipswich, Suffolk
- Competed for Team England at Birmingham 2022
- Multiple British and National Junior champion
- European Junior Champion
- Bronze medal at the World Junior Squash Championships and British Open
- Mentored by Laura Massaro
Sport: Table tennis
Hometown: Skegness, Lincolnshire
- Commonwealth Bronze Medallist in the Men’s Team Event at Birmingham 2022
- Represented England in the World Championships - Budapest 2019 and progressed to the 4th round with two unexpected wins
- Travelling reserve for Rio 2016 Olympic Games
- Singles Bronze medal in Commonwealth Championships 2019
- Quarter-finals of U18 and U21 Europeans in 2017
- Under 21s – 11th in World and 7th in Europe