Sue and Jim Houghton win East Midlands Unsung Hero Award

Sports enthusiasts Sue and Jim Houghton have won the East Midlands Unsung Hero Award for helping to transform a derelict sports ground into a popular community facility.

The husband and wife team have devoted 25 years to establishing the facility in Leicestershire.

Sport in Desford has tennis and squash courts, a football pitch, bowling green and dance studio.

The facility has hundreds of users each week.

'What a finish'

The Houghtons will now go forward for the national award which will be presented at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012 in London on 16 December.

"What a way to finish an Olympic year," said Mrs Houghton. "It's just wonderful for the community, and it's a real community sports club."

Mr Houghton said: "It's all the other people who actually make it work. That's what we get back out of it. It's to see other people make it work."

Jenni Bull, of Ellastone, Derbyshire and Barry O'Dowd, of Bulwell in Nottingham, were also in the running.

Ms Bull is the driving force and founder of Ashbourne Junior Tennis Club, while Mr O'Dowd turned a derelict building into a thriving boxing gym.

When Ms Bull had to give up competitive tennis because of osteoarthritis she began a mission to take the sport to a new generation. For the last 11 years she has run the junior section in Ashbourne.

They do not have courts, a clubhouse or toilets but she makes sure the council-owned courts are in good shape for the 100-plus children who get coaching each Saturday. And despite having no facilities, Ashbourne was awarded Derbyshire's Tennis club of the Year Award in 2012.

Mr O'Dowd puts in many hours at the Bulwell Boxing Club he set up. He persuaded the council to spare a building earmarked for demolition and, with the help of local businesses, built a boxing gym.