A DENTON man has been recognised for his commitment to the netball cause that saw him bounce back from a devastating stroke.
Paul Harper was left with greatly affected speech after falling ill in January.
But within six months he was back doing what he does best as coach of Tameside Netball Club and Manchester Metropolitan University.
Now Paul has been recognised for his achievements with the Unsung Hero award at the recent Pride of Tameside Sports Awards.
Paul’s connection with netball goes back more than 25 years.
He was Manchester Thunder’s coach for several years and also worked with England Netball to coach their high performance athletes from the North West.
During his time at Tameside Netball Club, he has produced many England athletes.
Seven years ago, he got a group of senior members together and entered a regional competition to qualify to play in the national Premier League Three.
They won that, then added the Premier League Two title and Tameside has just bstarted its third successive Premier League One campaign.
Paul is also the current coach for Manchester Metropolitan University and gained their first team promotion into the premier league in his first year as coach.
Elaine Harper from Tameside Netball Club said: “Paul suffered quite a serious stroke which has had a major impact on his communication. However, within six months he refused to give up and started back at Tameside Netball Club doing bits of coaching.“Although communication is still a problem, Paul has now returned to coaching our seniors and mentoring our junior coaches.”
Paul’s legacy at Tameside Netball Club has seen players Rebekah Airey, who also plays for Manchester Thuinder, and Hannah Williams play for England’s victorious Under-21 side at the recent Netball Europe Open in Belfast.
And Hannah said of Paul’s award: “I couldn’t think of anyone more worthy. He’s a true hero in netball.”
Under Paul’s guidance, Tameside Netball Club started its season with two wins, defeating Cumberland and Middlesbrough-based Grangetown.
The U16s finished runners up to Oldham NC in the Northern regional round of the ENG Sports UK Cup at Manchester’s velodrome on Saturday, September 28.
They actually defeated Oldham in the opening game but lost 7-10 in the final. However, they have qualified for the national final which will be held in December.