Updated: Stamford sports pioneer Alex Paske's joy as she wins top Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year award
Stamford sporting hero Alex Paske said after winning a highly-prestigious Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year award - I'm still on Cloud 9!
Shocked Alex, 27, was handed the national grassroots category crown at the glittering, star-studded ceremony in London last night (Thursday).
She told the Rutland and Stamford Mercury: "I'm absolutely blown away.
"I still can't believe I've won!"
The schools' sporting pioneer was put forward for the coveted accolade by nutrition specialists Nibble Protein after she set up the well-respected and very successful Mintridge Foundation in 2015.
Alex said she was "totally gobsmacked" as her name was read out just before 9pm at News UK headquarters in London Bridge in front of scores of sports high-flyers.
She was presented with her award by the stepdaughter of brave late Labour politician Dame Tessa Jowell.
"I was up against three other very strong contenders in the grassroots class and the competition was very tough.
"I didn't have a clue that I'd won.
"My jaw just dropped - my face must have been a picture," she smiled.
"I wish I could have embraced the walk up to the stage more and soaked up the applause as my head was in a whirlwind.
"I was handed my trophy and a microphone and it was just so surreal.
"I was absolutely stunned."
The sporting groundbreaker rubbed shoulders with the likes of British superstar sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, the 2018 European 100m champion, and Olympic heptathlon legend Jessica Ennis-Hill.
"I had my photo taken with Dina, who won the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year crown.
"She was so humble, friendly and approachable," said Alex, who stayed overnight in London after her showstopping triumph.
"It was just so inspiring to mix with and talk to so many trailblazers, both men and women, all over the room."
Alex, of Ryhall Road, Stamford, said her Mintridge Foundation has had a striking impact on a stunning 40,000 students and young people in schools and sports clubs all over the UK.
She has put together a top team of 30 professional athletes who work with youngsters in sports ranging from athletics to cricket, cycling to hockey and wheelchair basketball.
"Winning this top award gives my charity a powerful platform and huge recognition.
"This gives us a whole new status and people will have to take us even more seriously," said Alex.
"The success really puts us out there and we'll have to use it to the maximum over the next few weeks.
"We're also aiming to recruit more fundraisers which will give us even more capacity to deliver.
"I never thought for a minute when I started the Mintridge Foundation three years ago that I'd have Beth Tweddle, the brilliant former gymnast, tweeting about me!
"The sky's the limit for us now and we can kick on and go from strength to strength."
The hockey-mad sporting dynamo said they have helped youngsters both at schools and other organisations all over the UK since launching in 2015.
“We have worked with students in up to 160 schools - and we have athletes based from Edinburgh all the way down to Exeter.
“We want the best athletes to work with us but they’ve also got to be excellent communicators and have superb people skills,” said Alex, who’s lived in Stamford for five years.
“They work with young people on both a physical and mental level.
“We try to instil qualities such as hunger, passion and desire but also set out to help students cope with pressure.”