North East

The Athlete Mentors in the North East region.

We are delighted to offer the expertise of these elite and inspirational Athlete Mentors who each bring years of experience that will benefit your pupils.

Amanda Coulson

Amanda is one of Britain's leading female sport stars. She is a gifted and exciting fighter who spent almost a decade at the top of the women's national and international boxing scene – and is now a GB boxing coach. Amanda took up boxing and soon noticed the controversy surrounding female boxers. She came up against numerous obstacles as many local boxing clubs refused to let her train, citing no female changing facilities or no female coaches as excuses. These barriers only added to Amanda’s determination and, eventually, she joined Hartlepool Catholic Boys Boxing Club, who soon dropped 'Boys' from their name. Amanda made fast progress in what had previously been almost exclusively a man's world - winning 13 bouts in quick succession.

Amanda first represented England in 2004 and has won silver medals in 3 European Union Championships and gold in major international tournaments. She has been to 2 World Championships and domestically, has won four senior ABA titles. In November 2011 she became the GB champion, in a final shown live on BBC TV.  Amanda announced her retirement from boxing in late 2012 and hopes to return to a major championships – this time as a coach. For all Amanda's success in the ring, she has gained some of her greatest pleasure from being a role model and ambassador for women's boxing.

Sporting Achievements
  • GB Champion
  • Multiple National Champion & European Silver Medallist
Chris Cook

Chris started his swimming career late in life having demonstrated few signs of success as a teenager. After discovering his calling, Chris represented Great Britain for almost 10 years, reaching Olympic, World and European finals. His defining moment came in 2006 at the Commonwealth Games, where Chris swam his way to achieving the title of Double Commonwealth Champion.

Born and raised in South Shields, Chris grew up enjoying school life, but always struggled to apply himself to academic work. School reports would often be sent home stating that Chris ‘could apply himself more’, ‘is easily distracted’ and ‘is average to poor’. Through sport, Chris found a way of channelling his energies into success. Since retiring from international swimming in 2009, Chris can see how his dedication and determination to succeed paid off. He can now look back on his career as one that rewarded him with international medals, national records, personal pride and a degree.

Sporting Achievements
  • Olympian
  • Double Commonwealth Gold Medallist
Craig Heap

Craig, is a retired artistic gymnast who achieved national and international success at the highest level. Craig’s parents introduced him to gymnastics at the age of nine, hoping that he would burn off some energy and become less hyperactive. By the age of 13 he was already competing with the British Junior Team. His progression continued and, at 21, Craig left home to start full-time training. Being able to commit to training 100% had an immediate effect on both Craig’s confidence and ability. The 1998 Commonwealth Games saw Craig become the first person to captain England to team gold, a feat which he repeated in 2002. Whilst in Sydney, Craig realised his dream of competing in the 2000 Olympic Games where he accomplished his personal best performance as the only male representative for GB.

Craig’s success was not easily achieved and there were times when he considered quitting. After failing to qualify for consecutive Commonwealth and Olympic Games, Craig’s confidence took a blow, but this only made him more determined to succeed. Thirteen operations throughout his career also failed to stop him persevering, and succeeding, in his sport. Since retirement, Craig has endeavoured to inspire young people through coaching. He is also no stranger to television and radio, appearing as a ‘‘Mystery Guest’’ on the BBC’s ‘‘They Think It’s All Over’’, performing back flips for Kylie Minogue. His biggest breakthrough in television was being a Judge on BBC One's Saturday night Gymnastics entertainment show "Tumble". He also commentates on gymnastics for the BBC, covering the European & World championships, Commonwealth Games and both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

Sporting Achievements
  • Olympian
  • Commonwealth Games Team Captain & Gold Medallist
Craig McCann

Craig is a British National Champion Paracyclist and wheelchair fencer. After a routine medical examination he had upon joining the Royal Air force in 2004, doctors discovered a brain tumour that would leave Craig disabled. He had to forgo his dream of fighting for his country and instead, after the long rehabilitation, went on to study Business at University. He then headed to post graduate school to pursue a career in law but, little did he know, life had other plans for him. During his last year of University, Craig had been scouted through the Paralympic Potential program by the British Disabled Fencing Association. Turning international whilst at Post Graduate law school he put his law career on hold and began training as a full-time athlete. In 2010, during only his first year as an international athlete, Craig was selected to represent Great Britain at both European and World Championships, as well as for his first Paralympic Games in 2012 only two years after taking up the sport. But he soon realised that changes within the sport meant he wouldn’t be able to fulfil his new-found dream of winning a Paralympic gold medal. It was this realisation that caused Craig to switch sports.

Whilst initially taking time out from sport to refocus and consider other options, Craig took part in the 2013 Deloitte Ride Across Britain as an Ambassador for Paralympics GB and it was through that experience that he fell in love with the sport of cycling and a new challenge became clear. In 2014, Craig became the T2 British National Champion and is now one of the few elite athletes who can claim a British number one ranking in two entirely different sports. Since the disability changed the course of Craig’s life, leaving him unable to fulfil his dream of representing his country in the Royal Air Force, his philosophy is that he still represents his country albeit in a different uniform. This mindset enables Craig to enjoy the different journey on which life has taken him.

Sporting Achievements
  • Paralympian
  • National Paracycling Champion
  • British Number 1 in Two Sports
Katy Storie

Rugby player Katy has captained the England ‘A’ team, played 24 times for the senior England team, won a record four consecutive Six Nations titles and three European Championships and narrowly lost out in the World Cup final in 2006. Throughout her school-years, Katy was always embarrassed by her size and strength. She struggled with her body image and spent years trying to fit in with the other girls at school. Her career began when she responded to an advert in the local paper for a female weightlifter to represent Sutton in the London Youth Games. Immediately she set foot in the gym, Katy finally realised that there was a reason she was built differently. Her confidence soared and she progressed quickly into the Great Britain junior and senior weightlifting squads, competing for three years at that level. In her first year at Newcastle University, Katy was introduced to rugby and as soon as she had the ball in her hands she was hooked. 

Sporting Achievements
  • Six Nations Winner
  • World Cup Silver Medallist
  • England A Captain