The Michael Aldred Cup has stood as a poignant addition to Clounagh Junior High School’s prize ceremony for more than three decades - with last week’s presentation holding extra significance due to a family connection.
The memorial trophy was introduced by the Aldred family in 1982 as a touching tribute borne out of the tragic accident which claimed the life of a former Clounagh head boy and record-breaking athlete.
The award’s values of recognising beyond competitive excellence alone to, crucially, the attributes of sportsmanship and endeavour have made it unique within the pupils’ roll of honour.
However, this year’s recipient added to the sense of emotion connected to the occasion given winner Ethan Williamson is the nephew of Michael Aldred.
Ceremony organisers invited Michael’s mother, Anne Aldred, to make the presentation to her grandson. Gary Jackson introduced the special guest by recalling Michael’s “great enthusiasm for school life” and how he played sport with “real determination and no shortage of skill but, above all, displayed respect to his opponents and officials”.
“It was an emotional night for everyone but an honour and privilege to get invited back by the school to make the presentation to Ethan,” said Anne. “When we donated the cup it was on the condition the winner displayed enthusiasm and sportsmanship rather than success alone.
“I was at the school for the first presentation in 1982 but have always kept an eye on the winners down the years and been delighted to hear about the heart and soul put into school life by past pupils.
“Of course, it means a lot to the family that Ethan has won the cup and certainly I never anticipated this situation back when we introduced the award 34 years ago.
“There are so many similarities between Ethan and Michael in how they each have worked so hard and put so much dedication into everything but always with respect and sportsmanship.”