Sponsor Partnership of the Year

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An inspirational story of how one man’s belief and commitment to women’s sport has created an exceptional UCI cycling team in the UK – Drops Cycling Team.

Bob Varney got involved with the Corley-Drops Women’s Race Team in 2015. The team were under performing and he instilled the confidence and self-belief that allowed them to improve. At the end of the 2015 season Bob decided to take things to a different level and launch his own UCI Women’s Team.

Seeing the disparity in cycling first hand inspired Varney to create a viable pathway to the pro scene for British amateur women cyclists. In January 2016 Drops Cycling was launched as ‘the Most Professional Amateur Women’s Team in the World’.

Gathering 13 talented cyclists from all age groups Varney offered them a race calendar that is both national and international.

Drops are very active on social media and communicated well within traditional media. They’ve built a broad range of fans and followers and are therefore able to inspire young girls in the sport with something truly groundbreaking to aspire to.

Bob Varney is described as an inspirational, selfless gentleman with a burning desire to help his team achieve.


Ricoh have been the title sponsor of the Women’s British Open Golf since 2007 making them one of the longest serving sponsors in women’s golf. Ricoh will continue as title sponsor of the Women’s British Open through to 2018.

Trish Wilson, Chairman Ladies’ Golf Union’s commented: “Ricoh’s sponsorship is fantastic news, not only for our Championship but for women’s golf. The long-term support of as prestigious a brand as Ricoh is invaluable to both our tournament and to the women’s game. This is a partnership that works fantastically for all parties.”

In April 2012 Ricoh launched its “Imagine.Change” ambassador programme, designed to invest in young, up-and-coming British talent who needed support in crossing the chasm between junior and senior level, a transition that has proved difficult for many athletes. The brand also sponsors Charley Hull and Johanna Konta.

Ricoh are also founding partner to social enterprise Women Ahead, enabling the launch of the organisation’s sport and business mentoring scheme. Ricoh were the first organisation involved in the programme with 16 of Ricoh’s senior leadership team mentoring 16 women at British Cycling.

All of the above has created genuine change for individual athletes, specific sports, leaders (increasing their awareness and support for women in leadership roles in sport) and society at large.

Chelsea Ladies FC v Notts County Ladies: Women's FA Cup FinalSSE – WOMEN’S FA CUP

In 2015 SSE made the landmark decision to become the first-ever title sponsor of the Women’s FA Cup.

The sponsorship is the largest-ever investment in women’s football and the partnership includes significant funding to create a countrywide programme of girls-only football over the next four years.

SSE wants to contribute to change across society for women and girls in sport and business; they are united behind women’s football by celebrating all levels of the game.

SSE supported national #GirlsTakeOver campaign, a partnership launch allowing hundreds of school girls to ‘take-over’ Wembley, meet the stars of the game, play football and tour the stadium.

16-year-old footballer Georgia Stanway was featured on their media panel and spoke inspiringly about the partnership’s impact on the game. As a result, the launch gained coverage in over 100 media outlets.

Increasing the gravitas around the final, SSE produced great imagery and ran a National Trophy Tour securing unprecedented slots on ITV News at10 and BBC Ten O’clock News.

A record 30,710 fans attended the final alongside a BBC audience of 1,989,000 – a 51% increase.

The two #GirlsTakeOver films had 970,000 views. The Independent praised the films for ‘inspiring young girls to pursue their love of the game in all the right ways’.

This award has been kindly sponsored by The Original Search Company.


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