A capacity crowd of over 350 packed into Hexham's Wentworth Leisure Centre on Sunday 9th December for the annual Sport Tynedale Awards that recognise sporting achievements in West Northumberland.
The ceremony celebrated local athletes and teams from a wide range of sports, ages and levels as well as the volunteers and coaches who work so hard behind the scenes to support them.
Sport Tynedale president Allison Curbishley handed out the awards on the evening, and was joined by
BBC 5 live senior sports reporter John Murray.
The event was run and organised by the Sport Tynedale Board and Northumberland County Council with support from Active Northumberland who hosted the event.
Hexham based company Egger was the key sponsor.
Northumberland County Councillor Cath Homer, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said:
“What an amazing night this was for west Northumberland. It's wonderful to see so many sporting achievements in our local area and the depth and breadth of talent which has been displayed is nothing short of inspirational.
“ These awards are also a fantastic way to recognise and to applaud the dedicated coaches and volunteers who provide so many sporting opportunities for the local community.”
There were 15 award categories and on the night 60 individuals and teams received recognition - either as winners or recipients of certificates.
The young sportswoman award went to outstanding golfer, twelve year old Zara Naughton who is already on the senior ladies county team, whilst the young sportsman was Nick Ryan, a talented rower from Queen Elizabeth High School, who is the 2018 National Champion in the single sculls.
Alicia Armstrong won the the disability sport award with an amazing four gold swimming medals and one silver running medal, as well as the award for best 15 to 17 year old in the British Transplant Games; Alicia has been selected to take part in the World Transplant Games next year.
Tynedale Rugby Clubs colts showed huge character in reaching the final of the English National Cup at Worcester, winning two of their games by the agonisingly close margin of 33 – 32, and deservedly won the Sport Tynedale Youth Team award, as well as the Ian Tunrner “Junior Champion of Champions” trophy.
School teams again excelled this year, with Haydon Bridge High School’s girls cross country team winning the High School Award, and the very talented young girl footballers from Ponteland Academy winning the Middle School Award, having been English National Champions in the Danone Nations Cup – they go on to represent England in the World Championships in Barcelona next year.
None of this sporting success would be possible without the dedicated band of volunteers who organise, coach and officiate, and these special people were thanked and recognised at the awards. Richard Macdonald won the Sports Personality Award for his dedicated service to the hugely popular Allen Valley quoits league; he first started as secretary in 1989 when there were just 12 teams, he has played a major part in developing the league to 26 teams right across the most rural parts of West Northumberland, and organises everything meticulously, from sponsorship to fixtures to results and cup events.
For well over 20 years, one of the area’s strongest clubs, Hexham Rowing Club, has been helped by the winner of the Egger Unsung Hero Award, George Doody, who organises events, repairs boats (often in the middle of the night), provides transport as well as coaching – and in every way has been at the heart of the club.
Two women who revitalised Hexham hockey clubs junior section were joint winners of the coaching award – Maggie Coombe and Jo Holmes have built the numbers up to 120 young people with their hard work and enthusiasm. And in a strong field of junior volunteers, 18 year old Dan Craigie won the award for his very active involvement in cricket coaching with Corbridge Cricket Club, as well as his work as an “A” panel umpire in hockey; Dan is already mentoring younger umpires in the sport.
Adult sport remains strong in the District, with Humshaugh Cricket 1st XI taking the team award for a string of successes in local cricket; whilst ultra runner Steph Scott took the women’s award for her 6th place in her age group in the world duathlon championships, as well as numerous local successes in events like the Tyne Trail 150 km run! The sportsmans award, as well as the Tynedale “Champion of Champions” Trophy, went to David Cumberlidge, the fourth fastest British swimmer of all time over 50 metres, and double silver medallist in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. David started his swimming with lessons at the Wentworth Sports Centre in his early years and still swims there when he is home from university.
Strong local sports clubs are at the centre of sports activity in the area, and this year the Club of the Year trophy went to Stamfordham Sports Club who have worked really hard to raise funds to build a superb new pavillion for cricket and football, and are actively promoting sport in the village.
The Stan Calvert Awards sponsored by Red Hot Property gave £600 to young track athlete Dan Joyce and a further £100 was given to Oliver Fletcher, Charlotte Graham and Lucy Dodds.
At the end of the evening John Murray said: “ I was blown away by the calibre of the talent and the sporting achievements and potential in the room tonight. It was a far higher level than I ever imagined with teams and individuals competing at such a top standard.
“I would like to congratulate all the nominees and winners and all those that make it happen behind the scenes. Well done to all involved.”