Alnwick Sports Awards - the winners

Sports stars, young and old, from the Alnwick area were honoured for their talent, achievements, determination and pure dedication at a glittering awards evening.

By Paul Larkin
Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 1:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 12:25 pm
The Special Achievement Award at the 2019 Alnwick Sports Awards went to the Alnwick Rugby Club U16 players abd coaches.
The Special Achievement Award at the 2019 Alnwick Sports Awards went to the Alnwick Rugby Club U16 players abd coaches.

The freshly refurbished Playhouse theatre played host to Alnwick and District Sports Council’s 2019 presentation ceremony on Thursday night (February 6).

The event was a celebration of sporting excellence and commitment and trophies were awarded across 14 categories.

The evening culminated in the presentation of the Northumberland Gazette Sports Personality of the Year award for 2019, which was won by the marathon man himself, Jim Munford, following a hotly-contested reader vote.

Alnmouth Community Rowing Club, winners of the Club of the Year at the Alnwick Sports Awards.

Guest of honour for the event was Allison Curbishley, who won the silver medal in the 1998 Commonwealth Games 400m, who gave an inspirational talk. The Duke of Northumberland presented the trophies.

After the awards, Allison told the Gazette she had really enjoyed the evening.

“It was great to hear the stories behind all the nominations and to see all ages involved. It proved that this area really is a hotbed of sport,” she said.

The ceremony’s compères were Alnwick Duchess’s Community High School students Palesa Thompson and James Ainsty.

Former athlete Allison Curbishley at the 2019 Alnwick Sports Awards.

Organisers thanked all of the category sponsors, including main event sponsor Specsavers Alnwick.

The winners were:

Junior Female, sponsored by Lilburn’s

Millie Breese

Millie, from Lesbury, is a member of both the Alnwick Harriers and the Alnwick and District Triathlon Club and has been nominated by both clubs. In the Under 15 age group, Millie excels in three sports – cross country, track athletics and triathlon. Last year, she won the Northumberland Schools and inter county schools cross country events and finished 8th in the English Schools Cup National Finals. On the athletics track, Millie is the North East Schools 1500 metre champion for her age group; and as a triathlete she was selected to compete for the North East Triathlon Team and at the National Finals where she finished 5th. She is now a full member of the Triathlon England North East Academy.

Also nominated: Harriet Robson and Talia Thompson

Junior Male, sponsored by His Grace the Duke of Northumberland

Drew Thompson

In the first part of last season, rugby union star Drew attended a North v South England camp and match at Gibraltar Barracks (Surrey) scoring a try against the South. Drew played ‘up’ as a 16-year-old in every U18 Newcastle Falcons match in the first part of the year with the team winning the Northern League. Out-of-season training continued through the summer and he was invited onto the England Academy Pathway. His highlights of 2019 included being a 17-year-old tight head prop in an adult world where you need special permission to play – in October, he was selected for the winning Falcons adult A team against Heriots from Edinburgh, playing with permission from the RFU. In the same month, he was selected and attended an England U18 training camp at Bisham Abbey.

Also nominated: Oliver Telfer

Junior Achievement, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Alnwick

Joint winners

Grace Castle

Grace, 16, is a road and track cyclist. Over the last six years she has compiled some impressive results; indeed amazingly she has been North East Regional Youth Circuit Champion in her age group, for each of the last six years. She finished 18th in the 2019 National Finals in the Under 16 age group despite competing against riders a year older than her. She is one of 12 youngsters selected for the GB Cycling Team Apprentice Scheme.

Maddy Hall

Maddy is another 16-year-old cyclist and her discipline is Time Trials. She usually rides over a 10-mile distance and competes in the Juvenile age group. Maddy is the North East Youth Champion and national champion for her age group. In the Spindata National Time Trial Rankings, she is currently ranked 2nd juvenile. Maddy is also a member of the Alnwick & District Triathlon Club.

Also nominated: Ella Holland and Ellie Metcalfe

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

Duchess’s Community High School Inter Girls Cross Country Team

The Inter girls team were the Northumberland winners of the inter schools Cross Country competition, beating some notable private school teams. In the regional finals at Middlesbrough, they finished third, only being beaten by two Harrogate Schools and they managed to get three runners in the first seven. This team achievement qualified them for the English Schools Cup National finals which were held in Sheffield in December. In the finals they came a very creditable 17th.

Also nominated: Alnwick Harriers Cross Country Under 15 Girls; Alnwick Harriers North Year Youth Development League Team; Alnwick Rugby Club Under 16s; Alnwick Town FC under 17s.

Sports Council 2019 Special Achievement Award

Alnwick Rugby Club U16 players and coaches

The team came together as five-year-olds and over the 10 years have grown up as a group into a fantastic team. In 2019, they had a successful season and seven of them were selected to play for Northumberland. Their highlight of 2019 was an 11-day trip of a lifetime – a tour to Japan to play rugby and take in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Most Improved Sports Person, sponsored by Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre

Oliver Telfer

Ollie is an Alnwick Harrier from Lesbury and he takes part in a number of cross country, track and field events. He is currently the North East Counties under 17 Pentathlon Champion. He was also 2nd in the Northern Schools 1500m steeplechase. In 2019, he increased his pentathlon score by over 250 points and reduced his 1500m North East ranking to 7th.

Also nominated: Emma Walsingham and George Williams

Volunteer of the year, sponsored by The Cookie Jar

Louise Jones

It is said that Louise is the heart and soul of everything fundraising and organising within both Alnwick Town FC and Alnwick Town Juniors FC. She helps raise thousands upon thousands of pounds for the club year in year out; money that enables the club to provide new facilities and keep their annual membership costs as low as possible.

Also nominated: Alisa Bennett, Gareth Breese, MIck Keane and Laura McLean.

Senior Female, sponsored by the Wooler Wheel

Amy Gibson

Amy only took up weightlifting at the start of 2018 and at the 2019 British Age Group Championships she finished with a 58kg snatch and 80kg clean and jerk to celebrate her first national gold. Earlier in the year at the English Championships, Amy recorded personal bests in the snatch and clean and jerk, recording successful lifts of 61kg and 80kg respectively to take the silver medal.

Also nominated: Carole Page, Diana Weightman, Lisa Williams

Senior Male, sponsored by Amble Town Council

Adam White

Adam started the Hybrid Kickboxing Club in Amble some three years ago. He is a Level 2 coach qualified through the British and Chinese Council of Martial Arts and he is part of the World Kickboxing Organisation. Adam organises club training for youngsters and is also a champion in his weight class. In 2019, at the World Kickboxing Organisation Open World Championships he won an amazing three gold medals.

Also nominated: Steve Carragher, Peter Grey, Phil Hall, Paul Straker

Senior Achievement, sponsored by McDonalds

Jim Manford

Marathon man Jim, from Warkworth, completed his 300th marathon in May, which makes him eligible to be included in the World Megamarathon Ranking List. Even more remarkably it was his 102nd overseas marathon run in 55 different countries … and he is aged 73! His marathon in Copenhagen was his 24th marathon run in the past calendar year and unbelievably his 70th marathon, since turning 70.

Senior Team of the Year, sponsored by Alnwick Town Council

Alnmouth and Lesbury Cricket Club First XI

In September, Alnmouth & Lesbury Cricket Club 1st team were crowned 2019 Champions of the Northumberland and Tyneside Cricket League, when they topped Division 1 of a competitive league, consisting of eight divisions. Captain Tom Vickers led his team to the club’s highest ever achievement and performances were a big improvement on the previous season’s mid-table finish achieved by the same group of players.

Also nominated: Alnmouth Rowing Club Over 60’s Mixed Crew, Alnwick Rugby Union Club Second XV, Alnwick Town FC Development Squad.

Coach of the Year, sponsored by Greaves Grindle

Andy Sargent

Andy has been nominated by both the Triathlon Club and Cycling Club where he coaches; in addition, he also coaches the Alnwick Sea Swimmers. He is a British Triathlon Level 1 coach, British Cycling Level 2 coach and an ASA Level 2 swimming coach. In 2019, Triathlon England started an initiative for clubs to put on GoTri Training which is beginner swim, bike and run sessions. Andy embraced this initiative and devised a six-week Learn to Swim programme which was an instant success. It has sold out on all three programmes. This has allowed Alnwick Tri Club to attract new people to the sport of triathlon.

Also nominated: Mike Telfer

Services to Sport, sponsored by Arcinova

Joint winners

David Lauckner

David has been a key figure in the quietly successful Alnwick Swimming and Life Saving Club. He has been a senior coach for some 25 years, travelling as a volunteer from Berwick to Alnwick. He teaches the theory of lifesaving including clinical skills such as resuscitation, to practical skills such as safety assessment and rescue scenarios.

David Young

David started his association with Alnwick Cricket Club as a player in the 1970s, some 40 years ago, and was known for his excellent batting ability, representing Alnwick and Northumberland, both as a junior and as a senior, for many years. David has held a number of club positions such as ‘life’ Vice President, Trustee, Club Chairman and management committee member and he retired as a Director of Alnwick Cricket Club in November 2019. Without his guidance, Alnwick Cricket Club would not be the vibrant and inclusive community asset that it is now.

Club of the year, sponsored by Specsavers of Alnwick

Alnmouth Community Rowing Club

A community venture, with two boats built by members of the community, one launched in 2015 and the second in 2019. The latter had a build time of some 1,600 hours. Launches have taken place throughout the year. In round numbers they have launched one or other of their boats about 320 times. This averages out to just over six launches every week. 2019 was their most successful year ever on the racing front. They attended the Skiffie Worlds in Stranraer, this is the World Championship for the St Ayles Class of coastal rowing boat, whee top billing went to the Over 60s mixed crew, who won a silver medal.

Northumberland Gazette Sports Personality of the Year

Jim Manford

The marathon man who ran his first race when he was 40. He completed his 300th marathon last year, 70 of those sincing turning 70 – his new target is to increase this to 100. In addition to his amazing talent for distance running he has just published his 10th book in his Marathon Tourism series.

Also shortlisted: Lucy Bronze, Peter Grey, Laura Weightman, Adam White.