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Cumbria Sports Awards 2013 Winners Announced

December 2, 2013

The talent and dedication of athletes, sports teams, coaches and sport volunteers in Cumbria were celebrated on Friday at the annual Cumbria Sports Awards. 300 guests, including guest speaker Jamie Andrew OBE congratulated winners at the event held at the Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel in Windermere. Organised by Active Cumbria, the awards recognise the outstanding talents, commitment and successes of teams and individuals throughout Cumbria who are involved in sport.

Retaining her title from last year, this year’s winner of the prestigious Sports Personality of the Year Award went to Lauren Smith, who has had a truly outstanding 2013.

From the sport of Badminton, she, along with doubles partner Gabby White this year became National Ladies Doubles Champions. They are now firmly established as the country’s number 1 doubles pairing and have tasted success across Europe this year, reaching a number of finals. Lauren is part of the GB World Class Performance Programme and is focusing on next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. She is now playing in the elite Premier Super Series at venues across the world against the very best the sport has to offer

Cleator Cricket Club picked up Cumbria Performance of the Year 2013 for their amazing win at Lord’s in the National Village Cup.  Not only did they win, they won there in the most dramatic of circumstances. They won the final against Gloucestershire's Rockhampton Rams by one wicket in a thrilling and tensely fought match.  David Rooney, the Cleator captain and number 11, struck the winning runs on his first ever visit to the Home of Cricket - part of a crucial unbeaten knock of ten. They headed home to West Cumbria victors after one of the most thrilling Village Cup finals to have been played at Lord's.

The Special Award is awarded at the discretion of the Judging Panel, and this year Rob Jebb, a true legend of mountain based sports picked up the award. The winner, from Staveley near Kendal is a multiple winner of many of the country’s most challenging fell races, and has many victories at Grasmere Sports, and at long distance races at Wasdale and Borrowdale. He is also a multiple British Fell Running Champion.

However, it was for his achievements in Cyclo-cross that the judging panel has made this award. Since 2000, he has won the Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross race on no less than 10 occasions. The route, which is 61km in length and reaches a height of 736m above sea level is centred around the three peaks of Ingleborough, Whernside, and Pen-y-ghent, in Yorkshire, and is regarded as being the toughest cyclo-cross race in the world.

The winner of the Service to Sport Award went to Ronnie Witt from Carlisle for his long serving commitment to the sport of Angling. Ronnie has been a member of the Carlisle Angling Association Committee for over forty years and represented the Association on Carlisle Sports Council for many years. Ronnie was a member of Carlisle Sea Angling Club, where he organized many fishing trips throughout Cumbria and South West Scotland over many years. Although Ronnie has always been active in organizing events for the anglers of Carlisle, it is his dedication to encouraging youngsters to take up the sport which is what sets him apart.

The winner of the Young Sports Leader of the Year Award went to Megan Lewis, who is making a real impact at her Club, Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club. Megan has been a club member for four years and in that time has become a very competent and successful junior rower, winning numerous events all over the North of England and Scotland. However, she is much more than just a rower. As well as training with her fellow juniors four times a week, she attends extra training sessions each week to help with coxing and coaching other club members.

Keith Clarkson from Natland, was awarded Volunteer of the Year Award for his dedication in the world of hockey. As a volunteer, his passion to make Cumbria Hockey a force in hockey across the country has been a long and hard journey, which started many years ago through his engagement in the Active Sports Programme, a development initiative which embedded good practice sports development into this voluntary organization. He then led the organization into many structural changes which have seen the formation of the Cumbria Hockey Development Forum, which now has overall responsibility for the development of the game in the county. Since these changes, the standard of players, coaches, teams, and officials has improved markedly.

Paul Bell, Carlisle Squash Coach was named Cumbria’s Coach of the Year for 2013. Under Paul’s guidance Carlisle Squash club’s juniors are going from strength to strength with many of them now competing at a high national level. Over the course of the season 6 young players who train at the club have been ranked in the top 10 in England, something never known before.

This year, Paul has been the lead coach for all of Cumbria’s junior teams, where great strides have been made. Two age group teams made it through to the national finals in the same year, Cumbria had previously not had one team make this level, so two in a single year is outstanding. The girls Under 19 team finished fourth in the country and the Boys Under 13 team finished runners-up. A wonderful achievement for such a small squash county and holds us in good stead for the future.

Paul also helped coach the Irish Ladies team to the finals of the European Team Championships, and has recently been appointed Lead Coach for England Squash in the North West of England.

The winner of a brand new category for 2013, Community Group of the Year went to Barrow’s Walney Wind Cheetahs. The new award has been introduced to recognize the achievements of an active and well run sports club or sporting organisation that has made a positive contribution to the local community. There were many high quality nominations for this new award but the Barrow-in-Furness group and have been taking great strides in increasing participation in running activities for all sectors of the local population.

After forming in September 2011 as a small group of runners who trained together with the aim of completing a 5km Fun Run they continue with their running. Since then the group has continued to develop their membership has grown to include all sectors of the community.  They now work very closely with many local community groups creating inclusive sessions and events that everyone in their community can be part of. This success has seen the Wind Cheetah create a new junior section which saw over 50 girls attend during the first week. The Group now has over 400 active members, who are also registered with Run England.

The winner of the Performance Award for People with a Disability went to Nathaniel Pattinson from Carlisle. A star in the sport of Wheelchair Basketball. Nathaniel was born with a condition called McCune Albright Syndrome with Polyostotic Fibrous Displasia, and has been a full time wheelchair user since he was 14. Nathaniel has not let this hold him back and he is excelling in his sport. Earlier this year Nathaniel helped the North of England take Gold at the Sainsbury’s School Games, and was selected to represent GB Under 19’s at the Paralympic Youth Festival in Utrecht. Nathaniel has now been earmarked to represent the Under 23 Team in the next year.

Wigton Rugby Union Football Club was named Cumbria’s Team of the Year. They won the North Lancashire/Cumbria League in emphatic style by winning all 26 matches played throughout the season. They were 1 of only 2 teams across the whole of England who maintained a 100% record over the course of the season, and duly won their league in impressive style. They also won the Raptor League, which is awarded to the Team with the best playing record in England from the Premiership down to Level 7. What is more remarkable is that 30 of the 36 members of the first team squad are all from the town and have come through the Clubs Junior system.

Junior Team of the year went to Dowdales School Year 10 Rugby League Team from Dalton-in-Furness. They had a long and arduous journey to be crowned National Rugby League Champion School, a journey which involved winning 9 rounds to claim the title. Back in late 2012 they claimed the Barrow Schools title, and quickly followed this up with a narrow victory over Whitehaven School to take the County Championship. A number of close matches followed but the Team just did enough to make it through to the Final where they faced Bruntcliffe School from Leeds. Our winners dominated the Final, with every player performing to their best, and the score-line of 34-10 was just rewards for their efforts. This is the second time this group have won the National Championships, and the second time they have won this award.

Five Rising Star Awards were made to talented athletes who have demonstrated their potential through their achievements during the last year.

The first Rising Star went to Georgia Stanway of Barrow-in-Furness from the sport of football. The Dowdales School Pupil has had a fantastic year, and was selected to represent and captain the England Schools Under 15 Team in the Home International fixtures back in April. She has recently been selected for the National Schools and FA Squads for the current season.

The second Rising Star went to Jonny Edgar from world of Karting, who at only 9 years of age is racing against Karters aged 13, this year he won the British Open Championship, finished 4th in the Super 1 National Championship and 6th in the MSA British Championship. He is the youngest driver to ever compete in, let alone to win the British Open. Other big names to win this event have included Lewis Hamilton, Paul Di Resta and Jenson Button, however, they were 11 and 12 years of age when they did so. A great future beckons for this young man.

The third Rising Star award went to Morgan Knowles from Ulverston and has excelled in his chosen sport of Rugby League.  Morgan has played for Barrow Island and was spotted at the age of 12 by the St Helen’s Player Performance Manager, as soon as they were able to sign him, they did and he has joined their scholarship scheme at Under 15 and Under 16 age group level. This summer he joined their Academy and is now on a professional contract at St Helen’s. He has also made his International debut playing for Wales (through his Mother) in a narrow defeat against England earlier this year at Under 16 level. He has a fantastic work ethic, and is a dedicated professional

The fourth Rising Star award went to Ben Jenkinson from Dearham, near Maryport and at the tender age of 10 is making great waves in his sport of Swimming. He currently holds the age 9 years County records in 400m freestyle, 50 & 200m Backstroke, 50m Butterfly, 100m & 200m Individual Medley events, breaking them several times during the last year; some of these records had stood for over 10 years. At his first County Age Groups competition he won all 10 of the events, breaking or bettering 6 county records.

Then in September he competed in the grueling 1500m Freestyle event, and is now ranked number 1 ten year old in Great Britain, achieving a personal best time of 20mins & 8 seconds which is over 2 minutes quicker than anyone else swimming 60 lengths in the country in his age group. He is also ranked 2nd in the 400m Freestyle and in the top 5 for 200m Freestyle, 50m, 100m & 200m Backstroke, 100m Butterfly & 200m & 400m Individual Medley!

The final rising star went to John Tormey, from the world of Shotokan Karate. At the age of 12 John has already worked his way to achieving a Brown Belt after only two and a half years in his sport, and has his eyes firmly set on making that Black in the near future. John has had his first taste of international competition by being selected to represent England in the European Karate Championships in Sheffield this October.

Dean Henderson was named Junior Sports Personality of the Year from Workington. From the sport of Football, Dean started playing football with Whitehaven Miners Football Club at the age of 4. Dean went on to do well in lots of sports, including tennis, football and played County Cricket for Cumbria, but it was when Dean joined Carlisle United’s Centre of Excellence at the age of 8, starting as an out-field player before his potential as a goalkeeper was spotted. He spent 6 years at Carlisle before joining Manchester United at the age of 14.

Dean has continued to represent Manchester United’s age group teams, and has been all over the world representing them, playing against other top club sides including Real Madrid. Dean is currently playing in the Under 18 Team which is sitting top of the Academy Premier League, and has also represented the Under 19 Team in the European League.

Dean has also gained selection for England, with his debut coming in the Victory Shield win over Wales last November, and he has now firmly established himself in the Under 17 side, with his most recent appearance coming in the 6-0 win over the Republic of Ireland last month.

The final award of the night, the Brendan Jameson Be Inspired Award recognizes a contribution to the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games in Cumbria. The winner this year of the Brendan Jameson Be Inspired Award went to Megan Lewis.

The judging panel award the nomination that is contributing the most to the legacy of London 2012.  Megan Lewis certainly shows these qualities in abundance. She is one very special young lady who is contributing significant amounts of her own time to enable many others, both young and old, to benefit from rowing activities in the north of Cumbria. Her tireless work in coaching, volunteering, fund raising, and generally helping with the smooth running of her club, whilst also finding the time to concentrate on her own sporting activities, mark her out as being particularly special.

Each individual junior winner also received a voucher for a free pair of training shoes from New Balance Athletics Shoes Ltd and the Coach of the Year received a voucher from sportscoach UK to support their on-gong training and development.

Richard Johnston, Senior Manager at Active Cumbria said; “The Awards were a superb event and an excellent opportunity to celebrate the enormous effort and talents of the sporting stars of Cumbria. We had some excellent nominations for the awards this year, and I know that our judging panel had a real task to choose all this years deserving winners. It just goes to show what great talent and dedication to sport that we have in the county. The support of the media, and our awards sponsors continue to make these awards a massive success, acknowledging the quality of our major sports performers and our emerging talent, as well as recognising the very important part played by volunteers and coaches in Cumbria”.