A member of West Midlands Fire Service has been named as Fire Service Sports Personality of the Year by the national governing body, the Fire Service Sports and Athletics Association (FSSAA).
Watch Manager Julie Cooper, who currently works in the supervisory development team at the brigade's Training Academy in Smethwick, was presented with the award by Andy Fry, the Chair of the FSSAA at a ceremony held at West Midlands Fire Service headquarters.
The accolade is in recognition of Julie's achievements in regional, national and international cycle racing. The highlight to date was earlier this year when she represented the British Fire Service at the World Cycle Racing Championships in Luxemburg.
Julie's achievements are remarkable in that she has only been cycling competitively for about a year and that three years before that, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, she has been through surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and remains absolutely determined to defeat the illness. Although she is still on medication, she is optimistic about the future.
Julie said: "I have always been quite competitive and sporty, but preferred athletics at school. As soon as I was able, I wanted to raise money to repay the professionals who have helped save my life and did so by running in the 5k race for life and then the 10k race for life the following year, raising funds for other cancer sufferers in the process.
"I have two young sons who are both members of a cycling club. They compete nationally and it was them who encouraged me to get in the saddle. I am determined to be 'there' for them and they have been a true inspiration to me."
Presenting the award, Andy Fry, Chair of the FSSAA, said: "One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role is appointing a Sports Personality and I am delighted that this year it is Julie. The story of her journey to achieving sporting excellence is truly inspiring, and she will be a wonderful ambassador for the association."
Vij Randeniya, West Midlands Chief Fire Officer, said: "We have so many truly remarkable people working for West Midlands Fire Service and Julie is an example to us all. Her cycling successes in such a short space of time are fantastic and her courage and determination speaks volumes. Julie thoroughly deserves this award and I am thrilled for her."
Julie is already preparing for her next competitive race and hopes to represent Great Britain again next year. She also helps to train youngsters at her local cycling club.
Photo: Andy Fry, Chair of the FSSAA; Fire Service Sports Personality of the Year Julie Cooper, and Vij Randeniya, Chief Fire Officer
Updated: October 25th