VET’S DIARY: A worthy tribute to grass-roots sport

IT can be funny how things work out sometimes and the last week or so seems to typify this, writes Dominic Plumley.

In the middle of a busy weekend on call I managed to pop my head into the Alnwick Playhouse on Saturday evening where the annual Alnwick and District Sports Council Awards were being presented.

As is the way, the ceremony started at 7pm and I didn’t get there until nearly 8pm because I had been treating an old dog that had spent most of Saturday throwing up anything that it ate or drank. With said pooch on intravenous fluids and already a lot brighter for being rehydrated, I thought it safe to head off to the awards.

Though 2010 had been a year of no little personal effort and training, it goes without saying that my own achievements didn’t even get close to those receiving gongs on Saturday night. No, I wasn’t keen to get there for my own sake, but Alnorthumbria Vets were sponsoring the Coach of the Year award.

On arrival, I had to sneak in at the back because I was late. I was struck by the make up of the audience; the numbers dominated by folk in their teens interspersed with obvious family and friends not to mention the odd familiar coach. As the very entertaining master of ceremonies highlighted the achievements of the nominees for the awards, it was immediately apparent what a rich sporting culture we have locally and, even more encouraging, how well these sports are supported by youngsters at grassroots level.

Unfortunately, I was only at the ceremony for about 45 minutes because, you guessed it, the dreaded vibration in my pocket signalled another call out. I had at least remembered to turn the volume off on my phone. This time a cat that had had an argument with a motor vehicle required my attention and I had to leave before seeing the coach’s award presented.

Thankfully, my colleague David Young was on hand to do the honours, himself an enthusiastic participator in and organiser of local sports.

As it turned out David presented the award to Sue Skirrow, the dedicated coach of the Junior Harriers, and here’s another one of those funny coincidences, who used to work for us as a veterinary nurse. At this point I should make it clear that the sponsors of the awards do not pick the winners.

Having caught up with David a day or so later, we both agreed what a triumph the evening had been and how good it was to see sport of all sorts thriving locally.

The evening paid tribute to a huge range of events and their participants and not just those that we see regularly featured in the local press, though it has to be said what a great job the Gazette does in covering local sport.

Of course, the only cloud in evidence was the perennial problem of funding and the difficulty faced by many in scraping enough cash together to keep their respective clubs going.

There is a huge reliance on volunteers not only giving up their own time but invariably their hard-earned as well and quite rightly mention of their efforts brought the largest round of applause of the evening (while I was there anyway).

While I was thinking what to write in the diary this week, my thoughts were distracted by the radio and news of a well-known footballer’s transfer from the North East to the North West. The sum involved not only seemed to bear no connection to the recession that we are all currently experiencing and – what is more – was a million miles away from the sentiments of Saturday night.

It’s a funny old game.