Sir Tom Cowie was instrumental in setting up the Sunderland Sports Fund in 1999 and his Charitable Trust has continued to provide support by providing grants to elite athletes and sponsoring the awards at the annual dinner.
£3,500 was awarded for Olympic grants in August 2011 and £800 was awarded in October 2012 for four bursaries.
Some of the elite athletes who are supported by the Sunderland Sports Fund are:
Fiona Tozer who played for the Great Britain Women's Wheelchair Basketball Team. Fiona is new to wheelchair basketball, but in a relatively short time has become recognised as one of the top twenty women’s players in Great Britain. Fiona was formerly an able bodied athlete, playing professionally in Canada and Germany, before injury stopped her career. Undeterred, Fiona has continued her passion for the game.
Alyson Dixon a marathon, 10k and 5k runner. Sunderland-born endurance runner Alyson has represented Great Britain twice at World Championship events, most recently at the 2011 marathon at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in South Korea. Alyson, a graduate of the University of Sunderland, is coached by Olympic Silver medalist Liz McColgan and just missed qualification for the British Olympic team.
Kat Driscoll, a gymnastics trampolinist. Kat is Great Britain's number one, has been world number one and she was ranked 9th in the 2012 Olympics. She became a full-time athlete in 2010, and has since won team and synchronised medals at the World and European Championships.