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England Netball leads tributes to sporting unsung hero

England Netball has led tributes to Sheila Perks – the netballing mentor from Bromsgrove who was “instrumental in helping many a player fall in love with the game over more than 65 years”.

Sheila, who died aged 91 on September 22, was involved from grassroots to national team level as an England Netball Honorary Life Member and received an MBE from the Queen for her outstanding contribution to the game in 2009.

Nurturing talent including Bromsgrove’s Stacey Francis-Bayman, who is a current England international, Sheila won West Midlands BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero Award for her mentoring of young players in 2009.

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On Sunday, Redditch Netball League held a minute’s silence in honour of the great-grandmother.

Her granddaughter Alexa said: “Sheila was known and loved by many as the inspirational netball sensation Sheila Perks MBE. But to her family, she was a much loved mum, nan and “Nanny Sheila” to her two great grandchildren”

Ryland Netball Club tweeted: “A minute’s applause today before both rounds of matches to remember Sheila Perks – so many players there today from so many clubs had been blessed to have known her.”

The Club added: “Sheila helped so many on their own netball journeys and was an inspiration to them all.”

Sheila Perks was a netball mentor to many over 65 years

An England Netball spokesperson said: “Our deepest condolences are with her many friends in the game and her family. Sheila devoted many years of her life to establish a thriving netball community in the Midlands.

“She was an incredible friend and mentor to all the players she was involved with.”

Sheila’s legacy will live on as she founded Ryland Netball Team in the 1950s. She was also a coach at Bromsgrove School from 1991 to 2005 and until recently, heavily involved with the Worcestershire U12 County Academy.

A spokesperson for Bromsgrove School described Sheila as “a great friend of the school” and added: “We were deeply saddened to hear that Sheila Perks MBE died last week. Joining Bromsgrove School as a netball coach in 1991, her teaching style was unparalleled.”

Alvechurch Panthers offered a tribute saying: “All at Alvechurch Panthers were very sad to hear of the passing of Sheila Perks.

“The last few years Sheila enjoyed analysing many of our matches and it was great to have her support. The netball community has lost a legend. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Sheila’s accolades include ‘The Hall of Fame Award’ from then President of England Netball Janet Wrighton in 2014, a UK Coaching Lifetime Achievement award in 2013 and The Muriel McNally trophy, an annual award in recognition of outstanding contribution to netball, in 1989.

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