PLYMOUTH youth mountain bike club Pilgrim Flyers admitted they were totally shocked to be voted Grassroots Team of the Year at the national Pride of Sport Awards in London.
Flyers coaches Jay and Maddie Horton were at the Grosvenor House Hotel to pick up the prize on behalf of the club in front of hundreds of people, including some of biggest names in British sport.
Other winners on the night included Dame Kelly Holmes, Eddie Jones, Dame Sarah Storey and the Team GB Olympic and Paralympic squad.
“We honestly thought that we were there just making up the numbers,” admitted Maddie Horton.
“When they called out ‘Pilgrim Flyers’ as winners, we couldn’t believe it.
“We really should have had a think about something sensible to say to Ben Shepherd up on stage, but in the end we had to go for speaking from the heart.”
She added: “The evening was fantastic – a real once in a lifetime experience.
“Jay and I were incredibly proud to have the chance to represent the Pilgrim Flyers at such an event.
“We managed to get autographs from Mark Cavendish and Ade Adepitan, and there were sporting greats everywhere we turned.
“The event organisers did a great job of making all the ‘normal’ people feel at home among all the famous faces.”
Pilgrim Flyers have gone from strength-to-strength since they were founded in 2013.
They cater for all abilities of young mountain bikers and have got so popular they even have a waiting list to join. They started off with between six to 10 riders and now have more than 50 and eight volunteer coaches.
Horton admits winning a Daily Mirror Pride of Sport award is a big boost to the club, although they have no intention taking a break to enjoy it.
“For the club it is business as usual – we keep coaching kids on bikes every Thursday, no excuses. But having recognition at this level vindicates all the hard work put in every week by every single coach, all the riders and all the parents.
“Without the regular commitment of enthusiastic volunteers there would be no Pilgrim Flyers.”