Cricketer Cook wins East Sports Personality award

England cricket star and former Bedford School pupil Alistair Cook has been crowned BBC East’s Sports Personality of the Year.

The 26-year-old England one day captain won the top accolade at the ceremony, staged at the Bedford campus of the University of Bedfordshire on Thursday (December 8).

Alistair was unable to attend the event in person but spoke to the audience by recorded message, saying: “It’s a huge honour to receive this award, Bedford brings back memories for me.

“The highlight of the year will always be the Ashes. It’s been a fantastic year and hopefully it will continue into 2012.”

It was also a special night for Olympic gold medal rower Tim Foster, who won the Sporting Legend award.

The former Bedford Modern School student won the coxless four gold in Sydney in 2000 with Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell.

The 42-year-old said: “It’s a massive shock and honour. I’m a proud Bedford boy and I’m proud of this region.

“I feel slightly unworthy of the award looking at the other winners.”

Guests at the evening, presented by BBC Look East host Stewart White, included badminton star Gail Emms, who attended Dame Alice School in Bedford, and the tennis player Elena Baltacha.

Other awards included one for the Buckinghamshire-based Red Bull F1 team as team of the year, and coach of the year went to Stevenage FC manager Graham Westley.

The University’s Director of Sport, Professor John Brewer presented the Coach of the Year award and said: “We’re delighted to work with the BBC to stage these awards at our Bedford campus, where we have an extensive sporting heritage.

“We are one of the largest providers of PE teacher training in the country and we run a number of sport science courses which also include coaching. It is a very exciting time to be involved in sport nationally and at the University too - we are committed to sporting and coaching excellence.”