Young Larne, Ballyclare and Cullybackey athletes awarded Mary Peters bursaries

Three young Co Antrim athletes have received support from Olympic legend Lady Mary Peters as they pursue their sporting ambitions.
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Sailor Zoe Whitford, golfer Adam Buchanon and motorsport racer Peter Willis were each awarded £500 through the Mary Peters Trust and Hughes Insurance Bursary programme.

All three athletes are already gaining attention in their respective sporting fields including 17-year-old Larne resident Zoe, who in 2023 competed in back-to-back worldwide and European events in Poland, securing a place in the coveted Gold Fleet Youth Europeans taking place in July.

Meanwhile, 15-year-old Peter from Cullybackey contended in the British Talent Cup as one of just 34 competitors within the UK and Ireland, and 18-year-old Adam from Ballyclare achieved a top-10 finish in the 2023 North of Ireland Men’s race.

From left to right: Zoe, Lady Mary Peters, Adam, Emma Haughian, senior marketing manager at Hughes Insurance and Peter. Photo by Darren Kidd.From left to right: Zoe, Lady Mary Peters, Adam, Emma Haughian, senior marketing manager at Hughes Insurance and Peter. Photo by Darren Kidd.
From left to right: Zoe, Lady Mary Peters, Adam, Emma Haughian, senior marketing manager at Hughes Insurance and Peter. Photo by Darren Kidd.

Lady Mary Peters said: “Our bursary, supported by Hughes Insurance is awarded to exceptional athletes and can be an important boost to cover training expenses, equipment costs, competition fees, and other essential needs - but most importantly, it’s a recognition of their hard work, skill, and dedication. Congratulations to Zoe, Adam and Peter, we hope this award supports you in pursuing your future goals.”

Part of the Irish Sailing Academy, Zoe participates in the ILCA 6 class, a highly competitive discipline demanding of strategic decision-making and strong aerobic fitness-skills which saw her emerge as the first female and overall seventh in the 2023 RYA Youth Championships.

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Zoe said: “There’s a limited number of females competing at my level which means a huge portion of my training involves competing against male youths, so I work even harder. I’m proud to show sailing as an inclusive sport, where you meet incredible people and explore new places too. The bursary will help with upcoming preparations for the Europa Cup in Majorca in March.”

Adam began playing golf with his dad at the age of four and is currently on a scholarship at Ulster University via its golf programme. The £500 bursary will assist him as he gears up to travel to the 2024 R&A Student Tour Series in Portugal and France.

Adam said: “Travel expenses, especially in golf are often considerable so the £500 bursary is a welcome boost to support my pre-tournament preparation. I’ve been fortunate in my golfing career to be included in the Gold Ireland panel since the age of 10, and recently earned a spot on the Irish High-Performance Panel. Last year proved difficult due to health issues and an early season injury but I’ve learned to adapt a ‘never give up attitude’ and it’s this passion that keeps me going.”

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Following a wild card opportunity to ride in the European Talent Cup in November 2023, Peter explains how the bursary is helping him progress.

He said “Racing at British championship level since the age of 11 has been an incredible journey and I hope that my experience serves as inspiration for other young riders. Coming from Northern Ireland adds an extra layer of commitment including travel demands and the bursary supports my preparation for the six-month racing season and year-round training commitments.”

Emma Haughian, senior marketing manager at Hughes Insurance commented: “Now three years in, our partnership with Mary Peters Trust is something we’re really proud of. We’ve supported 30 athletes and it’s been incredibly inspiring to watch their dedication.”

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