Announcing the winners of the Cumbria Sports Awards 2023

November 15, 2023

Announcing the winners of the Cumbria Sports Awards 2023.

Junior Sports Personality Logo

Junior Sports Personality of the Year is Taekwondo champion Gabriella Pettigrew, from Kendal.

The award is presented to our Exceptional Rising Star.

In September of this year Gabriella took part in the British Taekwondo Nationals winning the event without losing a single round.

Not only is Gabriella the British Taekwondo Champion for 2023 but her most recent win makes her a three time British champion at the age of only 10 years old.

Gabriella is the current Scottish Open Champion 2023. Current Welsh National Champion. Ultimate Open Champion 2023. Ultimate Winter Open Champion 2023. Lanarkshire Open Champion 2023. 

Gabriella will also receive a sports massage voucher from DAHM Academy

Three Rising Star Awards were made to talented athletes who have demonstrated their potential through their achievements during the year:

The first Rising Star was awarded to Jake Armitstead from Kendal who is excelling in Ski Racing. In August 23, 14-year old Jake was presented with the trophy for most improved U14/16 boy/girl on dry slope or Alpine by Snowsports England. 

And in September Jake became the U16 British Dry Slope Ski Champion following an incredible year being on the podium in the majority of dry slope and indoor races over the summer season around the UK.

With a full calendar of achievements Jake is definitely one to watch out for on the slopes.And he has already been selected as a dry slope ambassador by Snowsports England to promote dryslope skiing and help the younger, less experienced skiers.

The second Rising Star went to Amber Rigg from the world of Swimming

15-year old Amber’s hard work has reaped much success in the swimming pool this year with achievements including success at the County Championships January/February 2023 and the Northwest Regional Championships in March 2023.

Amber who is from Carlisle, qualified for 2 events at the British Championships in April. And qualified for 8 individual swims at the British Summer Age Group Championships in July achieving a total of 5 medals - 3 silver and 2 bronze.

Amber has broken a number of age group and junior County Records this year and her talent has been recognised nationally, being selected for the England National Youth Development Programme 2023/24.

The third Rising Star award went to 7-year old Frankie McMillan from the world of Fell-hiking and mountain-climbing  

This year Frankie who is from Drigg, broke an international sporting record, and put one of Cumbria‘s finest sporting pastimes well and truly on the map as well as inspiring a new generation with their fell climbing and mountain adventures.

In September 2023, Frankie became the youngest Briton to summit the highest peak (Mytikas) on Mount Olympus in Greece, one of Europe’s highest mountains.

This huge achievement came just two weeks after he completed his 214th and final Wainwright, including England’s highest mountain – Cumbria’s own Scafell Pike.

In addition, Frankie has raised a huge amount of money for Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team and become a media sensation with interviews and appearances in newspapers and magazines and on TV and Radio stations across the world.

Frankie is living embodiment of the environment and opportunity Cumbria has to offer young people seeking physical activity and adventure. At only 7 years old he is an inspiration to anyone, young and old, to get outside and move – for the sheer fun of it and for their physical, emotional and mental well-being.

Our three Rising Stars will also receive a sports massage voucher from DAHM Academy

Volunteer Cumbria Sports Awards Logo

The Becky Underwood Volunteer of the Year award was awarded to James Fitt a player and very dedicated volunteer with Wigton RUFC.  The award is presented for the Greatest Volunteering Contribution.

In addition to being a key player in the Wigton RUFC senior squad James dedicates countless hours to the team’s development and the club as a whole.

He takes care of several roles from seeking kit sponsorships and designing kits to coaching and fundraising James has become the ‘go to’ person for anything that the club’s needs and is referred to as ‘an excellent club man’.

James has dedicated his time to raise the profile of the club creating an on-line presence through website and social media development and created connections with the Rugby focused mental health charity ‘Loose Heads’ as well as regularly arranging club socials.

Carlisle’s Joe Birch from the world of Tug of War was announced as the winner of the award for Coach of the Year – presented for Delivering Exceptional Impact.

In 2021, Joe took on the role of England Junior Manager and dedicated many hours towards creating a team by volunteering at events to scout for potential team members and holding trials at which all abilities were invited to ‘have a go’.

After just four months of dedicated coaching the newly formed team competed in the British and Irish Championship and returned home with several medals including: Gold in the Junior Men’s Open, Gold and Silver in the Junior Mixed (A & B teams) and Gold and Silver in the Junior Mixed Open. 

Later in the year the team competed in the World Championships in Holland with the Junior Girls bringing home bronze medals.

Sadly, the team suffered the tragic loss of one of their star up and coming pullers. After a very tough few weeks Joe was invited to take the England Junior team to South Africa to participate in the junior championships – the biggest in the world. A plan was formed to do this tour in memory of their lost teammate, and the Tom Allan Memorial Tour was planned.

Months of planning, twice weekly training, strength work and all round fitness development followed.  The tour was a great success with the girl’s team bringing home Gold medals.

Never sitting still, Joe continued to plough all available time and effort into developing the team and finding new members. 

In August this year, 3 teams attended GensB at Mannheim in Germany (the largest European junior event) competing against some of the strongest teams in Europe.

A week later the squad went to the World Championships (2023) in Switzerland where the Junior Boys came 7th overall and the girls team claimed Silver in the Open Competition and an amazing Bronze in the Closed Competition for their country.

After such a busy year you might think they would relax a bit – but no. Plans are already being made to compete at GensB 2024 in the UK, World Championships 2024 in Mannheim and ultimately to reach full throttle at the World Championships in 2025 with the best squad ever.

Throughout it all Joe has been the central driving force – a young man with real ability to engage with young people, to inspire them to train hard and reach to attain their potential, to be mature and responsible when necessary but always to retain a sense of fun, competition and pure joy at being able to compete as equals in a sport which levels everyone.

Service to Sport Award

The Service to Sport Award was awarded to 85-year old Les Middleton from the world of Athletics.  The award is presented for Extra Dedicated Service.

Les, from Barrow-in-Furness has been a stalwart of Barrow and Furness Athletic Club for over forty years taking on many roles during that time, coaching, officiating, committee member, fundraising, organising the end of year awards evening and for the best part of those years he was Chairman of the Athletic Club.

In addition, Les held other positions including Chairman of the Cumbria Track and Field League, sitting on the Cumbria AA and was Vice Chairman of the mid Lancashire League.

Les is fully involved in organising the annual Dalton Charter 10K and all home fixtures. As a qualified official he attends all the Cumbria and Mid Lancashire league fixtures, which is no mean feat at the age of 85!

As well as a dedication to the club Les contributes to the wider athletics opportunities in Barrow and Cumbria being the driving force behind acquiring a new track after 26 years without one locally.  This not only benefited the club but the wider Barrow and Cumbria athletics community and his contribution and service to sport has benefited thousands within the field of athletics over a 40 year service.

Community or Club of the Year Sports Awards Logo

The award for Community Club or Group of the Year is presented for Quality Local Opportunities and the award went to Bee Unique FC.

Bee Unique FC is a pan disability football club formed by the Bee Unique Autism charity which educates, embraces, and entertains those who have the diagnosis or currently in the process of diagnosis of Autism and those with associated learning conditions.

As well as football training sessions the club hold matches and large family fun days including an Olympic style event which presents an opportunity for all children and their families the chance to take part in a variety of sports.

Over an 18 month period the club organised 1998 activities for children and young people autism and other learning conditions – in August this year alone up to 3,718 individuals benefited from their activities.

Led by a team of volunteer coaches who are also parents of SEN children, the football sessions welcome all ages and provide a place for everyone to experience football in a comfortable environment.  This has really made a positive difference to the confidence of the children and young people taking part.  Later this year the club will host its first official football match providing opportunities for the Autism community through the love of sport.

Active Education Cumbria Sports Awards Logo

The Active Education award goes to Step Up and Play, a programme designed and led by head teacher Steve Herbert.  The award is presented for High quality physical activity and sporting opportunities at school.

Step Up and Play enables children from Central Ward in Barrow-in-Furness to attend and become part of sports clubs in the area.

A partnership between four schools, Step Up and Play aims to ensure that children aged 4-11 in Central Barrow, and their families have equity of opportunity to engage with local sports clubs.

Having recognised the need of Central Ward children to participate in sport, Steve has been determined to give them the same opportunity as other children.

He successfully secured funding for a pilot scheme and, on a weekly basis, manages Step Up and Play at a practical level.

The pilot scheme has been a great success with 135 children regularly participating in 5 different sports – participating has increased confidence and is making a positive impact to the lives of the children who would otherwise not be involved in a sporting activity.  Many of the children have gone on to represent their club in competitions.

Based on its success, Step Up and Play is looking to the future and seeking to secure a further 3year funding to make sure children can continue to participate longer term. The project aims to double the number of children aged between 4
and 11 becoming active members of local sports organisations, within 3 years.

Special Sports Awards Logo

The Special Award presented by the Judging Panel was awarded to Carlisle United Football Club who won promotion in 2023 from League 2 to League 1, after 9 years in League 2 in a remarkable match at Wembley in the Play Off Finals versus Stockport County.

Since Paul Simpson took over as Manager 18 months ago, the Club have progressed on and off the pitch, and the support the club are now receiving from the community of Carlisle and more widely across north Cumbria has grown significantly.

There is once again a real buzz surrounding Carlisle United, and whilst there have been mixed results during the start of the season in League 1, they are more than holding their own against on paper some much bigger clubs. The performances against Bolton and Burton particularly have shone.

This Special Award recognises the impact that a high performing Carlisle United has on the whole north of the county, and the positivity that can generate in the city of Carlisle and the surrounding areas.

Junior Team Cumbria Sports Awards Logo

The Junior Team of the Year for Best Achievement was awarded to Trinity School U13 Girls’ Football Team.

With two huge achievements this year including being crowned National U13 Development Cup Champions and reaching the EFL Utilita Cup Final at Wembley Trinity School U13 team from Carlisle have a enjoyed a fantastic year in Girls Football.

Team of the Year Sports Awards Logo

Barrow Raiders Ladies Team were crowned Team of the Year for Best Team Achievement.

From a team of 10 players and being bottom of the league to achieving Super League status in just 6 years this team has seen incredible success.

With dedication, perseverance, commitment, and some great coaching behind them Barrow Raiders Ladies Team has developed into an incredible force to be reckoned with inspiring the next generation in girls’ rugby. Their success is rippling out into the community with new girls and ladies’ teams being introduced locally.

A team of proud Cumbrians who will be flying the flag for Barrow and Cumbria in the 2024 Super League competition. We wish them well with the next stage of their incredible journey.

Disability Performance and Performance Sports Awards Logos

The Performance of the Year Award and Disability Performance of the Year winner is Becky Seaton who comes from the world of Athletics.

The awards are presented for Best Individual Performance and Excelling Beyond Barriers.

In 2016, Becky who is from Carlisle received a new kidney and pancreas.  Fast forward just six years and she was selected for the British Transplant Games in 2022 and in the same year selected to represent team GB in the European Transplant games.

Earlier this year Becky represented Team GB at the World Transplant Games achieving phenomenal individual and team success including 5 Gold Medals and 1 Silver Medal.

A fantastic achievement in such a short space of time - our winner has shown resilience and determination and works tirelessly to promote transplant awareness locally and nationally.

Personality Sports Awards logo

Georgia Stanway named as Cumbria’s Sports Personality of the Year for the second year running!

Georgia has had another fantastic season in her sport of football. She adorned our screens this Summer as the whole nation was gripped to the TV to watch the mighty Lionesses play Spain in the final of the World Cup.

A key member of the England squad for a number of years Georgia played every game during the 2023 World Cup.

She currently plays professionally for Bayern Munich in Germany, one of the top club sides in Europe and Georgia was nominated for the Female Ballon D’or, the highest individual accolade in world football.

Georgia picked up the prestigious Sports Personality of the Year award at this year’s Cumbria Sporta Awards.

Richard Johnston, Chair of Cumbria Sports Awards Judging Panel said;

“In this, the forty-fourth year of the Cumbria Sports Awards the judging panel are once again overwhelmed by the number and quality of nominations.

“Every year we hear of new names and their outstanding achievements, and the awards provide an opportunity to showcase the incredible range of great sporting talent in the county. It’s never an easy task deciding on the winners.

“We would like to congratulate not only our incredible winners but all of the nominees – as always there was some fierce competition with so many great nominations, and we had well over 100 separate individuals and teams put forward. Many of the categories were almost impossible to judge with so many great nominations. I’d like to thank our Judging Panel for their time, and also everyone who took the time to nominate.”