North Down Tennis Star Scoops £500 Hughes Bursary

North Down U12 tennis star Sam Irwin ranked No1 in Ireland received a bursary from Hughes Insurance

Sam Irwin, a tennis sensation from Helen’s Bay, has been awarded a £500 bursary from Mary Peters Trust and Hughes Insurance.

The bursary programme, now in its fourth year, is designed to support young athletes in reaching their full potential.

Sam has achieved impressive results, including being ranked number one in Ireland in the under-12 category. In the last three months he has also secured his first European Tennis title in Cork, a national title in Dublin, Templeogue and the provincial Ulster matchplay competition.

Following another Irish title last weekend in Dublin at Carrickmines, he has been selected to represent Ireland in the European Summer Cup, taking place in Czech Republic in July.

His tennis journey began at a very young age, inspired from the pram watching his older brother learning to play at various grassroots coaching squads and at the local park courts with his dad… the same public courts in Bangor where Sam continues to be coached and is developing his game.

(l-r) Lady Mary Peters, and Emma Haughian of Hughes Insurance with Sam Irwin, centre.

Sam said: “My parents tell me that as soon as I could walk, I was itching to get involved and have a racquet in my hand.

“I can’t remember not playing tennis.

“It has allowed me to become closer with my family and given me the chance to make new friends outside of school, whether at local, provincial or national training squads or at international tournaments.

“I’ve spent time with players from different countries and backgrounds which has been a fantastic experience.

“Last year, I lost a couple of tournaments back-to-back that I felt I should have won – which was tough – but it taught me to keep improving, learning and practicing.

“This bursary is a huge motivation for me as it recognises my effort and achievements in my short career so far and inspires me to keep pushing towards my dream of becoming a professional tennis player.”

Sam explained how the bursary will play a pivotal role in reaching his current goals. He said: “I plan on using the bursary to add strength and condition training into my weekly programme, which will help prevent injury and also improve my speed, strength, and core stability. 

“Tennis is physically demanding and requires a lot of skill, focus and strategy – which I love.

“This extra strength and condition will help enhance my performance on the court, which will be useful when it comes to Ireland’s major national tournament – the Fitzwilliam event in August – which I hope to win.”

Sam Irwin, the Ireland U12 No 1 ranked tennis player in Ireland, has received a £500 bursary from Hughes Insurance.

At just 11 years old, Sam has already shown remarkable dedication and talent in the sport of tennis as Lady Mary Peters explained. “Our bursary, in partnership with Hughes Insurance, aims to support Sam as he prepares for upcoming competitions and continues his journey towards becoming a professional tennis player.

“Tennis, in particular, comes with high costs for coaching, equipment, and travel, making this support vital. 

“Whilst the bursary offers financial support, it also acknowledges each athlete’s dedication and accomplishments in their respective sports and in Sam’s case, his hard work and commitment to continuing to better himself at such a young age epitomises this.

“We are proud to continue helping young talents like Sam reach their full potential.”

Hughes Insurance has committed £20,000 over four years to the bursary programme as part of its Action for Impact initiative – designed to deliver on its Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) agenda in 2024 and beyond.

Emma Haughian, Senior Marketing Manager at Hughes Insurance said: “Supporting talents like Sam is a key part of our commitment to making a positive impact in our community.

“By continuing our partnership with Mary Peters Trust, we aim to help more young talents overcome financial barriers and reach their full potential.

“Our dedication to social responsibility remains a top priority, ensuring that our efforts resonate with our staff, customers, and the broader community.

“We are delighted to support Sam as he gears up for his upcoming competitions, showcasing the incredible potential of young athletes in Northern Ireland.”

Remaining bursary recipients will be announced throughout 2024.

To keep up to date with the selection, follow Hughes Insurance on social media, @hughesinsuranceni.

For more information on Hughes Insurance visit and for more on the Mary Peters Trust, visit