Nino Severino: Gala charity night featuring stars of British sport was a fitting tribute to Elena’s legacy
PUBLISHED: 12:43 16 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:43 16 October 2019
In his latest column, Nino Severino shares the success of last week’s gala charity evening at Milsoms Kesgrave Hall, featuring some of the biggest names in British sport.
Last week, we were honoured to have Judy Murray travel to Ipswich to attend our annual gala charity evening at Milsoms Kesgrave Hall - and what an incredible night it turned out to be!
A star-studded list of guests including football stars Martyn Waghorn and Ledley King, Suffolk athlete Helen Davies, hockey Olympians Nicola White and Laura Unsworth and England rugby international Amy Wilson-Hardy were all in attendance, to support the Judy Murray and Elena Baltacha Foundations.
Both Judy and I were invited on stage to officially welcome everyone to the event, and to inform our guests all about the foundations that they were there to support.
Judy spoke about the Murray Legacy, building on all that her family had achieved in global tennis, and how they are now using this success to ensure that everyone in Scotland could have the opportunity to join our wonderful sport.
After Judy, I took to the lectern and, I must admit, it was a very emotional moment to be standing next to the woman who meant so much to my wife, and helped us both through a very dark period when Elena was fighting cancer.
I explained to our guests that the evening was one of positivity and hope - from darkness, I had walked into the sunshine, and how I was totally focused on continuing to build my wife's legacy, ensuring it goes from strength to strength.
After Judy and myself left the stage, it was time for one of the highlights of the evening, our annual awards to all the players who have achieved so much through all their hard work during the last year.
During the awards, we played a montage of messages from some of the greatest female players in the world - Karolina Pliskova, Sloan Stephens, Jo Konta, Carolina Wozniaki, to name but a few, they congratulated all the winners, and had some messages of inspiration and motivation.
Seeing all our talented players coming up on the stage, to a full production of imagery, music and lights, was simply an incredible experience for me. It represented everything that is so positive about the work my devoted foundation team deliver on a daily basis, and it honoured Elena's life in the best way possible, through the children she loved and supported.
The event was supported by so many individuals and companies, including our main sponsors Birketts Solicitors, who have been supporting our event every step of the way, with Jennifer Leeder and Sharyn Scott from Birketts supporting the management of the event.
Jason Turner, Director of Eastern Regional Barclays Private Bank, had the responsibility of launching our very exciting Sport Skills 4 Business Programme, an initiative supporting young athletes with personal development, helping them one day to link with a business or corporate entity, leading to a rewarding career pathway.
This is a unique programme and both ITV and BBC film crews spent the day with us to cover the story, featuring Ellie Cornforth, Great Britain gymnastics international, who is our very first athlete to benefit from the support it offers.
The evening would also offer two speakers - Kelly Sheppard would talk about her life journey in business and Judy would present about sport.
Kelly's presentation was followed by the live auction led by Ed Crichton, from Lacey, Scott and Knight, who very kindly gave his time freely.
Among some amazing prizes on offer, SAS TV star Ant Middleton donated an incredible SAS weekend experience - and it did not surprise me that Martyn Waghorn made sure he put a bid in that would secure this experience for him and his wife Leoni.
Martyn is an athlete warrior, and I'm sure Ant will love his fighting attitude!
The evening finished with Judy's presentation, and my goodness, what a way to finish, all our guests were totally fixated on every word.
This is a woman who played tennis for Scotland, became a housewife and mother, and then started a journey that would change the history of British tennis.
Her story is simply amazing - one of belief, commitment and the drive and passion it takes to be a winner. A fitting way to end a special night.
Roll of honour
Player of the Month: Dhruv Pai
Role Model Award: Jessica Terry
Yonex Junior Player of the Year: Arthur Ferrar
Best New Player: Sebastian Coult
Special Award: Amara Young
Futures Player of the Year: Juliette Velletri
Judy Murray Award: James McGhee-Wallace
Most Improved Player: Robyn Ahmed
Outstanding Athlete Award: Anya Taylor
Serena and Venus Williams Vase: Natasha Mashonganyika
Elena Baltacha ITF Lifetime Achievement Award: Yasmina Severino-Green
WTA Award: Alana Bristow
Martina Navratilova Award: Justice Hall
Elena Baltacha Foundation Player of the Year: Samantha Blaydon