SLIDESHOW: Sporting heroes honoured at awards ceremony

Super skier Amy Stokoe won the race for the Northumberland Gazette Sports Personality of the Year award, after the public crowned her 2016 champion.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 24th February 2017, 4:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 11:23 am
Amy Stokoe was the winner of the Northumberland Gazette Sports Personality of the Year award for 2016. She is pictured with Gazette editor Paul Larkin.
Amy Stokoe was the winner of the Northumberland Gazette Sports Personality of the Year award for 2016. She is pictured with Gazette editor Paul Larkin.

The 11-year-old from Widdrington Village was presented with the trophy at Wednesday night’s Alnwick and District Sports Council’s annual awards ceremony at Alnwick Playhouse.

The accolade was rich reward for her fine efforts in 2016.

Amy Stokoe was the winner of the Northumberland Gazette Sports Personality of the Year award for 2016. She is pictured with Gazette editor Paul Larkin.

In the summer, she was selected by the English Schools Ski Association to attend a four-day Primary Squad Camp in Landgraaf, Holland.

Slalom and giant slalom are her forte and she competed in the Scottish Dryslope Alpine Championships where she gained two podium finishes; finished third at both the British Indoor Series and the Anglo-Welsh Championships; and the Northern Open where she was second.

Earlier in the summer, she competed in her first Skier Cross competition at Castleford, where she finished as runner-up.

Amy spoke of her delight at clinching the Gazette trophy, after winning a highly-competitive reader vote to top the star-studded shortlist, which consisted of boxers Jessica Pattinson and Cyrus Pattinson, runners Laura Weightman and Carl Avery and charity rower Wim Stevenson.

Amy Stokoe was the winner of the Northumberland Gazette Sports Personality of the Year award for 2016. She is pictured with Gazette editor Paul Larkin.

She said: “It feels really great to win. It was a big surprise, because of the quality and the achievements of the other people who were shortlisted.”

Amy, a pupil at Rothbury’s Dr Thomlinson C of E Middle School, thanked everybody for their support and said that her dream would be to compete at the Winter Olympics.

The Gazette award concluded an evening of sporting celebration. The Sports Council presented 13 awards during the event, which was attended by endurance swimmer Adam Walker as guest of honour.


Junior Female, sponsored by Lilburn’s

Winner: Harriet Robson

Harriet, from Eglingham, is a 13-year-old cricketer with immense potential. In 2016 she played 27 times for Northumberland county junior teams – she was a member of the U11 boys, U13 girls and U15 girls, and she demonstrated all-round ability by taking two hat-tricks and scoring her first two career 50s.

She was watched by a national selector and as a result she was invited to play for the national U13 girls’ cricket festival in Malvern and later this year will be touring with the U14 team in the West Indies.

For her club, she was a member of the U11 County Cup-winning boys’ team, played most of the year with the U13 boys who won the North Northumberland League and was captain of the U13 girls’ team which won the County Lady Taverner’s competition for the third year in a row.

Other nominees: Sophie Bronze (heptathalon); Lauren Brown (athletics); Millie Mahoney (equestrian).

Junior Male, sponsored by His Grace the Duke of Northumberland

Winner: Jack Chrisp

Jack, with his horses Gato and Nettle, who was rescued from being put down, are making a big name for themselves in polocross. Most players live in the south of England so his sport requires significant travel. At national level, 16-year-old Jack, from Longhoughton, was awarded U16 Player of the Year and he was selected for an international triathlon tournament in Ireland where he was judged to be the best English boy.

However, his greatest achievement was to be picked to represent the United Kingdom against a touring Zimbabwe team where he played in all three matches and was again awarded the best player across all the age groups.

Other nominees: Owen Davidson, Rory Davidson and Liam Liddle (rugby); Aaron Spiers (cricket); Matthew Stewart (cricket).

Junior Achievement, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Alnwick

Winner: Matthew Stewart

Matthew, 12, is a promising cricketer from Alnwick. He represented Northumberland at both U12 and U13 levels in 2016. For Alnwick Cricket Club U13 his statistics were 202 runs at an average of 67.33 and 12 wickets with an average of 5.58 runs per wicket.

At county level he was the leading junior bowler across all age groups, taking 28 wickets at an average of 12.17. His best performance was against Norfolk where he took six wickets for just 24 runs. His best county batting performance was 57 against Durham.

Despite being only 12, he also debuted for Alnwick seniors’ second team, with his best performance being 5-19 against Morpeth.

Other nominees: Millie Mahoney (equestrian); Gareth Rickaby (tennis).

Junior Team, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Amble and Warkworth

Winner: Alnwick Town U11 Lionesses

2016 was an incredible year for the U11 Lionesses team who remained unbeaten to win Division 2 of the Pin Point League and the Pin Point Cup. They have continued this good form in Division 1 of the league and have so far won 12 out of 14 matches, scoring 74 goals.

Six of the girls have been chosen to represent East Northumberland Schools and the side is captained by their own Erin Belisle. Three of the girls attend the Newcastle United Foundation while two of these three also attend the Sunderland Stadium of Light Foundation.

In addition, one of the girls will be going to a training camp at AC Milan following a successful training course at Alnwick last year. They are the most successful junior football team to have been seen in the area for a number of years and they have an exciting future ahead.

Other nominees: Alnwick Cricket Club U13s; Alnmouth and Lesbury Cricket Club U15s; Alnmouth and Lesbury Cricket Club U11s.

Most Improved Sportsperson, sponsored by Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre

Winner: Fred Williams

Fred, nine, is a dedicated climber and boulderer and a member of the Willowburn Bouldering Club. In 2016, he picked up confidence and started to enter competitions and he has had great success.

In his first ever competition, the Alnwick lad won all three rounds of the North East and Lakes region in the British Mountaineering Council’s boys’ group E category to win the regional title. This qualified him for the British Final and he was placed 13th, impressing the crowds with a particularly hard route. After three rounds of five, Fred is currently top of his age group in the Durham Junior Bouldering series.

The improvements Fred has made in 2016 have been remarkable, and despite being small for his age, he has made up for this with his technique, attitude and sheer determination.

Other nominees: Lynne Bannister (triathlon); Angie Embleton (athletics); Dom Harris (athletics).

Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by Shepherds Walks

Winner: Lauren Baillie

Lauren started gymnastics at Willowburn when she was seven years old. At the age of 14 she was forced to stop due to injury and she decided to start coaching as a volunteer.

Over the past four years she has combined school work with volunteering and has put in well over 1,000 hours of volunteering on a Monday and Friday evening. Quite simply the gymnastics club would not be able to operate with its current numbers without her assistance.

At the 2016 British Gymnastics Awards, Lauren, 17, from Belford, won the national title of Young Volunteer of the Year.

Other nominees: Mark Doctor (athletics); John English, Dave Knapp, Michael Cook and Andrew Foster (football).

Senior Female, sponsored by TreeLocate

Winner: Lucy Bronze

Lucy, from Alnwick, had an impressive 2016, being part of the Manchester City team that won the league and cup double. The 25-year-old scored the winning goal in the Continental Tyres Cup final, as City beat Birmingham City Ladies 1-0. Manchester City have also progressed to the quarter-finals of the European Cup with Lucy scoring two goals along the way.

Lucy was voted Player of the Year for Manchester City and was also voted women’s Player’s Player of the Year for the 2015-16 season.

She has continued to represent England, playing in all but one qualifier for the European Championship in July of this year.

Away from the pitch, Lucy has been active supporting the NSPCC’s anti-bullying campaign and Sainsbury’s programme to encourage youngsters into sport.

Maintaining her links with the local clubs she led a highly successful training programme at Alnwick Town during the summer.

Other nominees: Ella Brown (athletics); Dorothy Mills (swimming); Lisa Williams (triathlon).

Senior Male, sponsored by Bradley Hall Estate Agents

Winner: Paul Straker

In 2016, Paul was captain of Alnmouth and Lesbury Cricket Club Firsts who play in the Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League, Division A2.

Paul is an all-rounder who had a fantastic season.

His total of 857 runs in league games last season was the third highest individual total in the Tyneside Senior League and this included his first club century and nine 50s. However, he is also a talented bowler, taking 28 wickets at an average of 22.58.

In 2016, he was voted the Tyneside Senior League Player’s Player of the Season.

Other nominees: Ian McAllister (athletics); Ian Atherton (triathlon).

Senior Achievement, sponsored by McDonald’s

Winner: Jo Gascoigne-Owens

Jo’s running and swimming have improved yet again. She was 17th female in the Great North Run and then went to the Berlin Marathon to record the fastest time ever for a female Alnwick Harrier finishing in 2hr 49mins 45secs.

Jo then finished the year on the podium for being the second female home in the Amsterdam Half-marathon and 102th overall out of 15,000 finishers.

If this was not impressive enough, Jo also greatly improved her swimming so that she was first female home, and third overall, in the 3.1km Great Scottish Swim with a time of 1hr 7min 34secs.

Other nominees: Jane Hardy (swimming); Ian McAllister (athletics).

Senior Team of the Year, sponsored by Tustain Motors

Winners: Alnwick Rugby Club Firsts and Amble Tavern FC

Alnwick Rugby Club: The first team achieved their highest ever league placing, third in the North One East League, winning 18 out of their 26 matches and scoring five or more tries in 12 of these games, scoring an impressive 660 and conceding 322 points.

While the fast-running backs get the plaudits for scoring many of these points, they come from a solid basis supplied by the hard-working forwards at line outs, scrums and open play.

This is a tough league – level 6 in the national pyramid – which includes teams from Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland. Victories included several big scores; the most impressive score was on the final day when the league champions Doncaster Phoenix were well beaten 43-10.

This good form has continued into this season with the team having won through to the Northumberland Cup Final and is again placed near the top of the North One East League, reflecting not only the quality of players but also the commitment and skill of the coaching staff.

Amble Tavern: Amble Tavern had an amazing year winning the treble of Morpeth Sunday League, George Crane Cup and Northumberland Sunday County Cup – the first time this has been achieved by a club from the Alnwick and Amble district.

Out of 24 games played, 22 were won and one was drawn. On the way they scored 145 goals and conceded only nine and also walked away with the Fair Play trophy.

As a result they went on to represent North Northumberland in the All England Cup.

Other nominee: Alnmouth and Lesbury Cricket Club U19 Ramjets.

Coach of the Year, sponsored by Alnorthumbria Veterinary Group

Winner: Gareth Breese

Gareth appears to have unlimited energy and enthusiasm for coaching. He is a Level 2 coach with the Alnwick and District Junior Triathlon Club. He manages to find the time to coach all three disciplines and in 2016 he also commenced additional run sessions at weekends which he made available to both the Tri Club and the Harriers.

He is also involved in coaching juniors triathletes at the North East Development Squad.

Gareth’s positive attitude is infectious and is renowned for the way he spends time with all the junior triathletes encouraging all with equal enthusiasm, irrespective of their abilities.

Not satisfied with just coaching for the Tri Club, Gareth is also a fully-qualified athletics coach with the Harriers and coaches two junior sessions a week. He has also recently taken on a coaching role within the senior section on a Wednesday night, which is proving very popular.

Other Nominees: Stephen Patterson (football); Angus Robson (cricket).

Services to Sport, sponsored by Arcinova

Winner: Ian Anderson

Ian, 86, is a member of Rothbury Tennis Club. He played Lancashire league tennis from 1955 to 1990, but when he retired to Thorpton he soon became chairman of the local tennis club and secretary of the Rothbury Recreation Club.

In this latter role he oversaw massive fund-raising appeals which saw £378,000 raised to improve the facilities. Ian played league matches for Rothbury and continued playing club tennis until he reached 84 years in 2015.

He still plays table tennis and indoor bowls and has won several cups.

He recently helped fund-raise for Thropton Indoor Bowling Club and a children’s playground with a football pitch in Thropton, raising more than £23,000. It is difficult to think of anyone who has done more for tennis or sport in the Coquet Valley than Ian Anderson.

Other nominees: Andrew Hodgson (rugby/cricket/swimming); Dougie McEwan (football); David Laukner (swimming/life-saving).

Club of the Year, sponsored by Tru Yoga

Winner: Alnwick Tri Club

Alnwick Tri Club is a friendly club with a whole range of abilities, from complete beginners to world champions.

It has an even split of male and female members, which is rare in sporting clubs. It also has a strong junior section.

About 10 per cent of the club qualified for, or took part in, qualifying races for Great Britain.

The club puts on a great selection of races throughout the year which cater for all ages, from young children to pensioners. and operate over three different venues in the area.

The club organises a large annual event for some 200 competitors which always sells out within a couple of hours.

In 2016, in recognition of the way in which the club excels in all aspects of performance, it won the North East Regional Club of the Year in its sporting category.

The club has a range of talented athletes and dedicated volunteers, such as Lisa Williams, Ian Atherton, Jo Gascoigne-Owens, Lynne Bannister, Richard Agan and Gareth Breeze.