Thousands of pounds have been netted for a charity following a female-only event which combined networking with fundraising for a paw-some cause.

Sheffield-based Support Dogs held its inaugural charity netball tournament at the city’s Canon Medical Arena, with more than 100 people in attendance.
The day raised a fantastic £4,500 for Support Dogs, a national charity which trains and provides assistance dogs to help autistic children and adults with epilepsy or physical disability to live safer, more independent lives.

Teams from local businesses Irwin Mitchell, Mott Macdonald, Taylor Emmet, CMS, Sheffield Forgemasters, Westfield Health and Bond Bryan, which were also headline sponsor, took part.

They battled it out during the three-and-a-half hour event, which also included a presentation, raffle and network opportunities.

There was even motivation provided by doggy cheerleaders support dogs Derek, Burnsie, Millie and puppy Walt.

The final was hotly contested by law firms Irwin Mitchell and CMS, with Irwin Mitchell emerging as the winners.

Chris Daykin, Support Dogs’ Corporate Partnerships Manager, said: “I have always loved taking part in sporting and corporate days, including football and golf events, but feel they have always been very male-focused.
“A lot of our corporate partners are led by female decision-makers and we wanted to create a sporting networking charity event aimed at women, while raising money for a fantastic cause.”

He said some of the women – who hadn’t played netball since school – are planning to join or form teams and added: “We rely heavily on donations and the money raised will make a huge difference to the charity. There was a really fantastic spirit throughout the day and we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped make it such a success.”

Jon Rigby, associate director at Bond Bryan, said: “We were delighted to support this event, for such a wonderful cause at the recently-completed Canon Medical Arena, which we were lucky enough to be involved in designing. It felt really special to us and is something really close to our hearts.
“Our team had such a brilliant time, the event was wonderfully run and it was clear how much fun and enjoyment all the teams had throughout the day.”
Gemma Allchin, head of community and workforce engagement at Sheffield Forgemasters, added: “This was a great opportunity for women from across Sheffield Forgemasters to get together, learn a new sport and participate in a fantastic event for charity and women in business.

“Our team thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Not only did we meet new women from within our business but it gave us the opportunity to network with other women across Sheffield at the event. We are looking forward to the next tournament as we had so much fun!”

Alex Styan, director of Arena Netball, a Community Interest Company, was the netball tournament host and donated her time to running the netball side of the event, including arranging for umpires from DNC Netball to support it.
She said: “It was important to me to support a corporate event for females that fit with the aims we have at the arena to engage more people in netball and reduce barriers to taking part.”

Support Dogs thanked sponsors Bond Bryan, Meadowhall and Pricecheck, as well as Canon Medical for providing the amazing facilities at the Canon Park Community Arena, all the teams which took part, special guest Fran Duffy, captain of the Netball Ireland, for handing out prizes and DNC Netball and Arena Netball for helping the day run so seamlessly.