An impressive array of local sporting heroes gathered at the Bedford Corn Exchange, on Monday, December 8, to celebrate their success and dedication over the past year at the annual Bedford Sports Awards.
More than 90 local nominees were put forward for awards in a number of different categories demonstrating achievements, commitment, team work and passion for a range of different sports.
More than 250 audience members watched as winners were announced in eleven different categories. The Adult Sports Personality of the Year went to Alex Edwards – freestyle kayaking and the Junior Sports Personality of the Year went to Bethany Dix – dodgeball and netball. A special commendation was awarded to Alan Johnson for recognition of his long service to rowing.
The Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “Bedford Borough has a rich sporting heritage, and this year’s Bedford Sports Awards was a fitting celebration of the continued sporting excellence being achieved by locally by many individuals, teams and clubs. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees.
“The commitment and passion of volunteers at sports clubs and groups across the Borough in helping to provide opportunities for all to enjoy sport is remarkable, and it is right that we should thank them all for their efforts on behalf of the community.”
The audience also heard a message of inspiration from broadcaster and sports journalist Ned Boulting, who among his experiences, spoke of coverage of the Tour de France.
The sports awards, organised by Bedford Borough Council, is now established as an important date in the local sporting calendar. This year it attracted nominees from dodgeball to dressage, and from blind bowling to basketball.
Nominees ranged from local community clubs to international standard performers.
For information on Bedford Borough’s previous Sports Awards events visit www.bedford.gov.uk (and search for Bedford Sports Awards).
>> Sports Club of the Year: Riverside Tennis Club
Riverside Tennis Club accounts for Men’s, Ladies and Mixed County Champions as well as 80% of county tennis players at junior level.
Achievements for 2014 include the Men’s Team qualifying for the National AEGON Team Tennis Event, Ladies Team playing in the National AEGON Team Tennis Division and five junior teams crowned County Champions.
Riverside Tennis Club prides itself on the wide range of sessions it offers from disability specific coaching, school sessions to children’s summer courses and over 70’s programmes.
>> Rising Star Award: Laura Dorrell – Rowing
Laura has been identified through national testing to be part of GB Rowing’s Team Start Programme. The aim of the scheme was to identify potential athletes for the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 games. As a new starter Laura has already stepped out from the group and at a recent testing camp Laura ranked 11th in the ergometer testing regardless of age. Laura shows great commitment in order to meet the demanding training schedule.
>> Sporting School of the Year: Lincroft School, Oakley
Lincroft have had a successful 2014, with many of their teams winning or reaching the finals in numerous sports. Such achievements include; Year 7 & 8 County Cricket Winners, Year 7 County Football Winners, Year 5 & 7 County Rugby Champions, Year 6 Rushmoor Cup Rugby Winners, Year 6 & 8 County Table Tennis Winners, National Finalists at the Tag 2 Twickenham Tournament and Gymnastics Regional Schools Acrobatics Championships to name a few. The school has very high participation numbers with over half of all students having played for a school team. They work very closely with clubs and have achieved the Gold Games Kitemark.
>> Junior Sports Personality of the Year: Bethany Dix – Dodgeball and Netball
Bethany has excelled in both dodgeball and netball over the past year. Within dodgeball she has played at international level for England’s Mixed and Ladies Team at the Dodgeball European Championships, winning gold for both. Bethany is currently playing for Hertfordshire’s Superleage Mavericks Youth Netball Team in addition to Team Beds regional netball, local league netball, Bedford Eagles Dodgeball Team and representing Wootton Upper School in many sports.
>> Young Sports Volunteer of the Year: William Feaver – Tennis
William started learning the sport for his own benefit but has now become a dedicated volunteer helping individuals with disabilities learn the sport. He has built a great rapport with the students he helps to coach and his work clearly has a positive impact on all involved. Through his attendance on the LTA Tennis Activator Course William has been able to adapt his sessions in order for them to be more inclusive. He aims to spend more time mentoring players and has booked in to complete the LTA Level 1 course early next year.
>> Sports Team of the Year: Bedford and County AC Men’s Cross Country Team
After several near misses the Men’s Team finally captured the most prestigious prize in British Cross Country ‘The National’ – which was run for the first time in 1877. From a field of 127 teams and 1,600 individuals, the Men’s Cross Country Team had four of their six scorers in the top 30. They were also runners-up in the South of England Cross Country Championships and placed third in the Southern Road Relays. Five of the team have represented Great Britain, England or Wales and are all very committed.
>> Sports Administrator/Club Person of the Year: Fay Legg – Netball
Fay has been a member of the Bedford and District Netball League Committee since the 1990s and has been League Secretary for the past seven years. She is the first point of contact for any problems for all the teams and dedicates time to contacting teams if matches are called off, emailing information to over 60 teams as well as collating the league handbook information every season. She is always available to offer guidance to both new and more experienced teams and players.
>> Special Commendation Long Service Award: Alan Johnson - Rowing
Alan joined Star Club as a schoolboy in the 1960s and from being a dedicated oarsman moved in to the role of Treasurer, member of the Executive Committee and finally as Club Captain. He is the man in charge of organising all of the staff at all rowing events held by Star Club, including the Head of the River Race and the Star Head of the River Event, which saw 350 crews and scullers representing rowing clubs and schools from all over the South of England. His contribution is massive but rarely recognised.
>> Sports Coach of the Year Award: Dee Paterson – Canoeing and Kayaking
Dee has a wealth of knowledge in canoeing and kayaking from attending high performance coaching conferences and specialist courses. This has enabled her to provide specialist coaching to an international athlete that became European Champion this year. Dee provides coaching expertise on and off the water at Viking Kayak Club for all members and visitors, from juniors to adults whilst remaining inclusive to people with disabilities. One of her key coaching achievements of 2014 was being selected as a canoeing coach for the GB Youth Team.
>> Disability Sport Award: Jean Bedford – Riding
Jean was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2014 for services to people with disabilities in Bedfordshire. She is a founder member of Bedford and District Handicapped Riders Association and has volunteered for the past 53 years. Jean and a number of other volunteers work together to enrich the lives of children and adults with both physical and psychological disabilities, with around 118 individuals riding every week.
>> Adult Sports Personality of the Year: Alex Edwards – Freestyle Kayaking
Alex competed at two Freestyle Kayaking World Cup events, winning gold in France and taking silver in Spain. He also took gold representing Great Britain at the European Championships as well as receiving a recognition award from British Canoeing for his achievements in 2014. Alex has devoted a significant amount of time to coaching, including coaching other members of the GB Team. He balances his gruelling training schedule, full-time career, being totally self-funded along with developing the sport in other countries.
>> Outstanding Achiever Award: Jon Miles – Cycling
Jon was at the forefront of the Women’s Cycle Tour that came to Bedford. The reason for this was to celebrate Bedford being the home of women’s racing through Jon’s organisation of the Bedford Three Day Event. Jon created the county’s first stage race for women in Britain 22 years ago and this is now considered one of the biggest races on the calendar. In addition to his involvement in the WCT Jon also assisted with the annual Women’s Race in Malta, the Bedford Three Day Event as well as some lower profile races. During the Bedford leg of the Women’s Cycle Tour Jon was presented with an Outstanding Service to Women’s Cycling Award.
Pictures courtesty: Two-d Photography Ltd www.two-d.co.uk