How sport really can change lives

Chief Correspondent

The (true) story of The Luvverly Ladies of Matlock

Sometimes sporting legacy doesn’t have to involve massive infrastructure, global medals, media relations and audit reports to prove a return on investment.

This – true – grass roots story is how Nicky Dick (triathlete, runner, and generally bonkers….) has helped a group of “everyday ladies, with everyday lives” go from nothing to, well, you’ll have to read on to find out.

This really is the power of sport.

This is a story of everyday ladies, with everyday lives, who achieved their own version of the Leicester City fairytale (but not the subsequent horror story).

It is not a front page headline grabbing story of someone from a disadvantaged start achieving Olympic Gold. There is no charity money raising background, nor a tear jerking rags-to-riches tale.

But, it has changed their everyday lives and made an awful lot of friends and family very proud. I am one of those very proud people.

The Luvverly Ladies

So the Luvverly Ladies grew in size (numbers, not physically, I might add…), grew in confidence, and kept pushing their boundaries. They started to buy ¾ tights, and maybe knee length shorts. Not those tight lycra really really short ones teenage girls will wear, don’t panic.

Nikcy Dick and the 'Luvverly Ladies' of Matlock

Run tops became “technical” and deep discussions were had on trainers (catch that subject later).

After mastering parkruns with the start and whole race in front of everyone, I persuaded them to enter the first cross country league race of last season. At that point we needed, and seldom managed, to have three ladies in a team. I thought they may well bottle it, but no, on a beautiful sunny morning I was truly emotional when 10 of them turned up.

Hilariously they all had identical trail shoes on, in a rainbow of colours, all having gone out and bought them the day before. They borrowed vests from the men, ran as hard as they could, some of them together, and contrary to what they thought, none were last. Social media was a photo montage of blue vests, big grins and filthy shoes.

Over that winter when sometimes the weather was truly Peak District, they stuck at it and some bought spikes. Every Monday they came in the dark and cold, snow and rain, to do yet another horrible speed / hill / pyramids / drills or whatever concoction I came up with.

Nikcy Dick and the 'Luvverly Ladies' of Matlock


The Hairy Helmet… Relays!

In the summer the whole club entered teams in The Hairy Helmet Relays. Don’t ask why a XC relay race can come up with that title, but the men came home with a bizarre Nordic Helmet. There is a special beer brewed for the prizes for the adult teams, and you guessed it, the Luvverly Ladies won. They drank the beer and the men had to drive home.

Next up, the county cross country championships. “Don’t be utterly ridiculous!” I’m not, you know you won’t be even near the back, trust me. Fast forward to the Luvverly Ladies jumping up and down like five year olds having won the Ladies Vets team trophy.

Too Good To Be True, Surely?

We had now started the XC league for 2016/17 and the organisers decided five ladies were needed to count. Strooth, we used to struggle to get three. This year, we had 12 turning up sometimes, and nearly all in spikes and shorts. Let’s give this a go. Halfway through and we were top of 11 clubs, had the leading lady overall, and several fighting for top spots in their age groups. It was too good to be true, surely we can’t hang on to this.?

The last race had horrendous weather, freezing cold, horizontal sleet, knee deep mud. They were all there, lost shoes, had frozen feet and hands and legs and yes, the fairy tale unfolded as the Luvverly Ladies won the league.

Nikcy Dick and the 'Luvverly Ladies' of Matlock

We stood in the showers, thawing out and were almost speechless and, I confess, to being very close to tears.

Pride: Thank You Luvverly Ladies

Ordinary people – The Luvverly Ladies – had done something extraordinary.

They have organised a trip to Mallorca for a half marathon, and I imagine alot of partying.

For me it has been an amazing journey, and I thank them.

Nikcy Dick and the 'Luvverly Ladies' of Matlock

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
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