Sports stars from Northumberland have been honoured for their success and dedication at a glittering awards ceremony.
The Alnwick and District Sports Council’s presentation evening was staged at the town’s Playhouse on Wednesday.
The annual event was a celebration of sporting excellence and commitment and has long been a highlight in the local sporting calendar.
Trophies were awarded across 13 categories; senior male/female/achievement, senior/junior team, most-improved sportsperson, service to sport, volunteer of the year, coach of the year, junior male/female/senior achievement and club of the year.
The guest of honour was Sky Sports presenter Tom White, who was brought up in the Alnwick area and used to submit cricket reports to the Gazette when he was a teenager.
Meanwhile, England footballer Lucy Bronze and middle-distance runner Laura Weightman were crowned joint winners of the Northumberland Gazette Sports Personality of the Year Award for their exploits in 2014.
The award winners and nominees were as follows:
Junior Female – sponsored by Lilburn’s: Winner, Sophie Bronze (athletics)
Sophie, a club member at Gateshead Harriers, excels in athletics and competes in a range of events in the U17 age group, In 2014 her dedication and training down in Gateshead at least four times a week certainly paid off. She was ranked number one in the heptathlon in the north of England and finished sixth in the UK Athletics Open National Championships. She is also ranked number one in the north of England in the high jump, is the North East pentathlon outdoor champion and has represented the north of England in the pole vault. Sophie also qualified for the U20s English Schools’ National Finals in the high jump which takes place in 2015.
Other nominees: Suzie Barwise Munroe (athletics/tetrathlon), Amy Thorne (athletics).
Junior Male – sponsored by His Grace the Duke of Northumberland; Winner, Jake Storey (golf)
Jake, a golfer at Alnmouth Foxton, continues to excel in his sport and his list of achievements continues to grow. In 2014 he was selected again for England and was a member of the winning Boys’ Home International team and played in all the Home Internationals. In competitions he won the Northern Counties Boys’ Stroke Play Championship and was the Northumberland Men’s County Champion. Despite a busy schedule, Jake found time to play for his club and was a member of the Men’s Senior Team that won the Northumberland County Team Championship for the first time in 28 years.
Other nominees: Edward Brunton (cricket), Finn Gavin (gymnastics), Jake Woods (rugby).
Junior Achievement – sponsored by the Rotary Club of Alnwick. Winner, Jake Woods (rugby).
Jake is a talented Rugby League player who took up the sport three years ago and plays for Cramlington Rockets. His obvious talent was recognised when he was selected for the North East Academy. In 2014, Jake was selected to play for the England Rugby League youth team against France and then he rounded off his fantastic progress in the sport against Wales with his first try for his country.
Other nominees: Amble U14s football team, Luke Brown (karate).
Junior Team – sponsored by the Rotary Club of Amble and Warkworth. Winners, Duchess’s Community High School U14 Cricket Team and Alnwick Cricket Club U11s
The Duchess’s Community High School U14 Cricket Team: The high school’s U14 cricket team had a fantastic unbeaten season, they comfortably won the indoor county cup; after winning the Northern round they secured victory against the other three regional winners. But it was in the outdoor game that they really came good, particularly in the County Schools’ Cup. After easing through the earlier rounds they won a competitive semi-final against cup favourites Newcastle RGS, thanks to a 100-run partnership between Olly Tulip and Joe Tudor. In the final, a strong Hexham High School, littered with both Durham and Northumberland county players, were the opposition, but demonstrating excellent team work, the High School secured a five-wicket victory, their first county cup win for nearly 20 years. They now go on to play Barnard Castle who are representing County Durham in the all-England Finals.
Alnwick Under 11s were unbeaten in 2014 as they won the Northumberland Junior League Knock-out Trophy beating South Northumberland Cricket Club in the final. They also secured the North Northumberland League and won their North Division Northumberland league games. The 2014 success was achieved with a young squad, half of them can still play at this age group this season and the club is looking forward to seeing just how far this talented group of youngsters can go in the future.
Nominees: Alnmouth and Lesbury U13s Cricket Team, Alnmouth and Lesbury U15s Cricket Team, Rothbury Junior Golf Team.
Most Improved Sports Person – sponsored by The Alnwick Accountants. Winner, Sam Courty (rowing)
Sam took up rowing three years ago and has made great strides while studying at University of Bath to become a rower of international standard. In 2014 she won two gold medals in the British Universities Championships, won the U23 Great Britain trials in April, won silver as part of the GB’s women eight at the U23 championship in Italy in July and won a silver medal in the pairs and a bronze medal in the quads when representing England at the Commonwealth Rowing Championships in Scotland in August. Her next aim is to become a regular selection for the senior squad GB preparing for the next World Cup.
Other nominees: Stuart Morris (athletics), Lisa Williams (athletics).
Volunteer of the Year – sponsored by Shepherds Walks. Winner, Brenda Mallen (athletics)
Brenda is a highly-dedicated coach and the coach coordinator for Alnwick Harriers. Described as the powerhouse behind the club coaching and Clubmark status, Brenda works tirelessly to drive the club forward. Brenda personally coaches popular twice-weekly Junior running and athletics sessions whilst administering and overseeing the Club’s participation in Junior events. In her role as club coaching coordinator, she ensures all senior and junior sessions are fully supported with appropriate staff whilst providing volunteers with ongoing personal development opportunities. Brenda also represents the Harriers on the North of Tyne Athletics Network to coordinate club efforts in the north. Brenda’s herculean efforts at the Harriers continue to be instrumental in the club’s ongoing success.
Other nominees: John Robertson (youth projects), Sally Carrigan (athletics), Gavin Turnbull (cricket), Duridge Bay Parkrun Volunteers (athletics).
Senior Female – sponsored by Purple Aviation. Winner, Laura Weightman (athletics)
In 2014 all of Laura’s hard work and dedicated training for the 1500m resulted in four tremendous achievements. In June, she won the UK Championship in Birmingham. She ran a personal best of 4:00.17 in a Diamond League meeting in Paris. In July at the Commonwealth Games, she dug deep in the final lap to win the silver medal. In August, she maintained her form to capture bronze medal in the European Championships in Zurich. As her coach Steve Cram said on TV, winning medals in 1500m is not just about running fast, mastering the tactics is also a vital skill and in both races Laura demonstrated this to the World.
Other nominees: Lucy Bronze (football), Sam Courty (rowing), Steph Courty (tetrathlon).
Senior Male – sponsored by TreeLocate. Winner, Carl Avery (athletics)
Although Carl had run cross-country at the Duchess’s Community High School, he had let this lapse until the end of 2013 when he started running competitively again. In 2014 he claimed numerous firsts: Les Allcorn 10k, Cragside 10k, Helvelyn15k, followed the very next day by the Ullswater 14k, the Glendale 8K fell race and the Northumberland Coastal Run. He was a member of the team that won the NE Cross-country Championship on the Town Moor and was part of the team that won the Wallsend three-man relay in record time. However, his greatest achievement was in the Duathlon. After finishing third in the UK National Qualifiers, he travelled to Spain for the World Championship where he won his age group, 54 seconds ahead of second place. Truely an outstanding year that was just reward for the dedication and determination he puts in to his demanding training regime.
Other nominees: Richard Elliott (rugby), Luke James (football).
Senior Achievement – sponsored by George F White. Winner, Gay Eastoe
Gay is a phenomenally dedicated athlete and in 2104 ran in 70 races covering more than 400 miles and usually winning the over-60 category in these races. In total she reckons to have run about 1,000 miles, cycled another 1,400 miles and swan 260 miles in 2014. What is perhaps more unusual is that although she runs for Alnwick Harriers she lives in Cumbria but always makes sure she turns out for the club in big local events such as the Northumberland Coastal Run. Gay actually suffers from autism so usually is accompanied by her husband Richard, but in 2014 she completed in the Good Friday Relay Race at Newburn without him which was well outside her comfort zone but still managed to run a fantastic first leg with the support of club members. Gay is inspirational and shows that at any age and whatever your ability you can take up a sport, get enjoyment from it and be successful.
Other nominees: Dorothy Mills (swimming), Phil Hemsley (athletics).
Senior Team - sponsored by Tustain Motors. Winners: Shilbottle Colliery Welfare Football Club
In 2014, the team had one of their most successful seasons ever. They started out by winning two preseason tournaments – The Berwick Charity Shield and The Stephen Carey Memorial trophy and then went on to win the North Northumberland League Division One title by an amazing 11 points after suffering only one defeat. Along the way they also won the league’s Anderson Cup, beating Tweedmouth Rangers in the final and the league’s Laidler & Lancaster Cup by beating Duns in the final. Gaining promotion to the much stronger Northern Football Alliance in summer of 2014 has not dented their success. They got the league campaign off to a flying start with an 11-0 victory over Wideopen. In addition, they won the Shilbottle War Memorial Trophy beating a strong RAF Boulmer side 6-0.
Other nominees: Alnwick Harriers Ladies Cross-country team, Alnmouth & Lesbury 2nd XI, Alnmouth (Foxton) Men’s Golf Club.
Coach of the Year – sponsored by Alnorthumbria Veterinary Group. Winner, Tracey Sample (athletics)
Tracey has been an outstanding coach for 29 years and has coached the Alnwick Tri Club for 10 years. She is also a coach with the Alnwick Harriers and with the Alnwick Amateur Swimming and Lifesaving Club. In 2014 she was appointed head coach at the Tri Club and has 11 other coaches under her wing. She also qualified as a Level 3 coach. It has been said that Willowburn Sports Centre is Tracey’s second home, her week is dominated by coaching and this includes strength and conditioning training on a Tuesday to 70 youngsters from three different clubs; swimming and running coaching on Wednesday’s to Harriers and Tri Club members and lifesaving and life support on Sundays. Tracey also coaches talented youngsters in the Triathlon England North East Development Squad.
Other nominees: David Wright (cricket), Ian Simon (athletics), Angus Robson (cricket).
Services to Sport – sponsored by Covance. Winner, Ken Martin (watersports)
Ken has been a mainstay of the Coquet Canoe Club and Coquet Shorebase Trust for many years. Supremely knowledgeable and passionate about water sports, Ken has coached canoeing, kayaking and raft building with endless patience and good humour to countless people of all ages and backgrounds. Ken’s knowledge and good judgement ensure participants are able to enjoy challenging winter river trips in safety. At 70 years young, he remains the Youth Development Officer and in the past year alone has supported and mentored three young coaches to gain their coaching qualifications. His boundless enthusiasm and highly effective coaching style are evident when coaching teenagers with learning difficulties to realise their potential on the water. Ken is a truly inspirational figure whose ongoing selfless dedication epitomises the very best of local people supporting local sport.
Other nominees: Eric Thompson (Carpet bowls), Ian Gray (cricket), Stephen Carey Fund (fund-raising).
Club of the Year – sponsored by Propology. Winners: Alnmouth and Lesbury Cricket Club
Their first team consolidated their position as one of the top teams in Northumberland. Their second team comfortably won their league. Their junior club, which has 125 youngsters achieved the following successes: The U15s Northern League (Northern Division) and overall Northumberland League winners; U13s Northumberland ECB Cup, the U13 girls were winners of the County Lady Taverners competition and went on to represent Northumberland in the regional finals (this was the first season they had run a girls team); a total of 12 youngsters represented Northumberland in 2014. On top of this, the groundsmen were recognised when the club pick up the 2014 Ground of the Year award for the Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League. In 2014 the club also offered a new home to the Alnwick Croquet Club who have been very complimentary about them. Off the field the club has continued to invest in its facilities and secured grants of some £20,000 to purchase new grounds equipment and install a rainwater harvesting system, taking the investment made in facilities to over £250,000 in the last five years.
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