International Slalom paddler Eilidh Gibson has won the Social Impact Award at the UK Sport PLx Conference in Manchester for her Slalom Inspires programme.
Eilidh set up Slalom Inspires in 2018, having suffered a shoulder injury which would ultimately shatter her Tokyo 2020 dreams. She wanted to channel her passion for the sport into the inspire girls who were already in the sport, to nurture their talents and fall in love with the Canoe Slalom, whatever their personal dream or aspiration.
More than 60 girls attended the first event in November 2018 with many returning in 2019 for three regional events held in Scotland, England and Wales and a second national event held at Lee Valley.
Dame Katherine Grainger, who herself opened the 2019 Slalom Inspires event, presented Eilidh with the award.
Eilidh was thrilled and surprised to have won and she said: “I’ve always had this passion for women and girls in sport and I just really wanted to actually do something.
I’ve always wanted to change the world and I’ve started to realise that changing the world is just changing one person’s world at a time. To help someone, even a little bit, is food for my soul.– Eilidh Gibson
“I have been struggling the last few years with injury and I know that I’m not just an athlete, I had something else and knew I could positively impact on someone’s life. Being an athlete can be so selfish and I struggled with that so I wanted to know that if I didn’t achieve my dreams then at least I’ve changed one person’s life
“I realised that the power of an individual, the power you have within yourself to help other people and to positively impact other people’s lives in enormous beyond what you could possibly imagine, more than I could have imagined.
The power in this room to impact literally hundreds and thousands of people across the UK is pretty staggering.– Eilidh Gibson
“Thank you to all the volunteers and GB athletes who have been amazing, coming to the events which have created a community in Slalom which is inspiring girls and British Canoeing who have been beyond supportive to this project.”
Paul Ratcliffe, Performance Director for British Canoeing, said: “What an inspirational role model and an incredible person.
It is a privilege to see Eilidh win this award for Slalom Inspires and in particular grow an idea into such an amazing programme.– Paul Ratcliffe, Performance Director for British Canoeing
UK Sport Director of Performance Chelsea Warr said: “We were blown away by the number of nominations we received for the inaugural year of the PLx award. It was inspiring to hear the fantastic and phenomenal stories of achievement, collaboration, innovation and impact that is taking place across the high-performance system in supporting our nation's most talented athletes.
"Congratulations to both our fantastic award winners and those who have been successfully shortlisted for an award. For those whose nominations were unsuccessful this time, huge credit to you for being recognised by your peers on your achievements.”