The 2019 W.J Paddy Patterson Award winner Eric Cunningham has had a long and distinguished service to the game of Hockey.
He has given selfless commitment to the game in Ulster and Ireland for well over 50 years, as a player, umpire, administrator and volunteer.
Eric played for Beechlawn Hockey Club in the 1960s, before it merged with South Antrim Hockey Club in Lisburn in 1972. From then until now has been an integral member of South Antrim hockey Club, playing competitively well into his 70’s but continuing to umpire on a regular basis for the Club’s junior teams.
This year’s winner has been Club Chairman and has held the Club in a financially sound position as their Club Treasurer for well over 30 years and was President of Ulster Hockey Men’s Branch in 2001-2002.
Eric was Treasurer of Ulster Hockey’s Men’s Branch from 2000 – 2009 and was responsible for securing great sponsorship deals for Ulster Hockey through his work as a Financial Director for Guinness, Belfast. When the Men’s and Ladies branches in Ulster Hockey amalgamated in 2009, Eric continued his volunteer role and became Treasurer of the Ulster Hockey Union.
Eric can still be found be found manning the gate, with a smile on his face collecting admission charges and sacrificing his enjoyment of the game so that others were able to enjoy it.
Ulster Hockey owes Eric a tremendous debt of gratitude as he only recently decided to retire from his role with Ulster Hockey’s Management Board. He is continuing as Chairman of the Finance Committee, so there is no doubt that his dedication to South Antrim and Ulster Hockey will remain and he will be seen regularly at matches throughout the Province.
On stage Eric expressed his surprise and pride on winning the award while being interviewed
The 2019 WJ Paddy Patterson Award Winner Eric Cunningham is pictured with Paddy Barnes, Julie Hastings of Hastings Hotel and the NI Sports Forum Chairperson Richard Johnson. Photo by Presseye