BBC Unsung Hero: Stidever humbled by East Midlands award

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Unsung Hero award humbles Stidever

Coach Jill Stidever has won the BBC East Midlands Unsung Hero award for 2014 after a lifetime helping children learn to swim.

The 77-year-old, who lives near Hinckley in Leicestershire, has helped thousands of children with special needs over nearly 60 years.

Colleagues, parents, and some of the children she has inspired described her as a "one-in-a million" person.

"I am humbled and emotional," Stidever told BBC East Midlands Today.

"I feel absolutely fabulous. It's due to the children and them wanting to learn to swim. If it wasn't for them I would probably have retired by now.

Mick Stidever, Jill's husband
"She will treasure this award as she will see it as a boost to all her swimmers, coaches and families alike, and a reflection on the joy of seeing a severely disabled person with a smile on their face as they succeed in achieving something very special."

"Over the years I have lots of helpers who have remained with me for a long time."

Stidiver works 40 hours a week coaching, raising funds and organising. And some of the children she has helped have gone on to swim at the Paralympics.

Graeme Chilvers, who works at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and is one of the people who nominated Stidever, said: "She gets parents involved, she gets Paralympians involved. She inspires people. The difference this is making is incalculable."

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Swim coach shock at Unsung Hero award

Jill Codling, whose son Levi is coached by Stidever, said: "She has changed my son's life. I was told he would never be able to swim but and he is now competing in the Nationals.

"Jill has empowered him and he is capable of anything."

Jill's husband Mick added: "She loves doing what she does.

"She will treasure this award as she will see it as a boost to all her swimmers, coaches and families alike, and a reflection on the joy of seeing a severely disabled person with a smile on their face as they succeed in achieving something very special - and it may not be just swimming - for the very first time."

Stidever will attend the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards in Glasgow in December with her fellow regional winners, when an overall Unsung Hero will be announced.