Cumbria Sports Awards Winners 2017

November 25, 2017

The talent and dedication of athletes, sports teams, coaches and sport volunteers in Cumbria were celebrated last night [Friday 24th November] at the annual Cumbria Sports Awards. 200 guests, including guest speaker Paul Simpson, congratulated winners at the glittering 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. The event, in its 33rd year, was hosted by Mike Zeller, presenter of BBC Radio Cumbria’s Breakfast Show. 


This year’s winner of the prestigious Sports Personality of the Year Award went to three times British Champion Hammer thrower Nick Miller.

This year Nick competed at the World Championships, where he was GB’s only competitor to qualify, he cruised through the heats and into the final with his first throw, achieving the qualifying distance in the most awful weather conditions. The night of the final was nail biting and at one point he was lying in the silver medal position with a magnificent throw of 77:31 meters. As the competition progressed he needed to better this, and his final throw looked brilliant, until it hit the cage! He finished sixth, the highest ever placing from a British male hammer thrower.

Nick, who is just 24 years of age, is a relative youngster in this event yet his personal best distance of 77.55m still stands as the best ever hammer throw on the UK all-time list. He is the highest ranking UK male hammer thrower in Europe, and his world ranking currently stands at 13th and rising. His success has been recognised by the Hammer Circle who awarded him the Freeborn Cup for the longest throw this year.


Craig Cook from the world of Speedway, picked up Cumbria Performance of the Year 2017

Craig, from Cleator has had a truly amazing 2017. Captain of Workington Comets in the Championship, and Belle Vue Aces in the Premiership, and also skipper of the Great Britain National Team, this year he was crowned British Champion, having finished runner up in the previous three years. He breezed to victory at his home track, barely losing a point all night, as his superior riding saw him pull away from his competitors.

The victory ensured that he would qualify for the 2018 Speedway Grand Prix Championships, fighting it out with the world’s best riders to be crowned the best rider on the planet.


The Special Award was awarded to Connor Murtagh

Former Caldew School pupil Connor was born with a heart condition which required life- saving open heart surgery at just 10 days old, this has been followed by 2 more such surgeries during his short life, the last as recently as September 2016.

Six months after this latest heart surgery, he had his first professional ride, aged just 16, and went on to win the race on the aptly named Symbolic Star at odds of 25-1 in front of cheering crowds at Newcastle.

Since then he has had over 220 professional rides and so far has 19 winners. Now 17 Connor has ridden in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster, at the Epsom Derby and Oaks Festival, Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood, riding with the best of the best including Ryan Moor, Paul Hannagan, and Frankie Dettorie.

His heart specialist Professor Samarou explains that he Connor is probably the only professional sportsman in the world competing at the highest level with such a serious heart condition. Connor is a young man living his dream, but to many he is a true inspiration.


The winner of the Service to Sport Award went to Trevor ‘Jock’ Nugent from Appleby AFC

Trevor has been devoted to his football club for nearly 60 years. In his playing days, he was an all-action centre forward, and when his playing days were over he coached and managed the first team.

His roles within the club have continued every year since, and he now washes the shirts, takes care of training equipment, sees that the goalposts are out, ensures maintenance tasks are undertaken, and he rarely misses a game.

He still travels with the team to away fixtures and can give the lowdown on just about every player who has pulled on the club shirt since 1960.

After Storm Desmond the club’s pitch, which is next to the river, was out of action for over eighteen months, and home games had to be played 14 miles away. He helped keep morale amongst the club high, and they had a great 2016-17 season. He also worked with the Council officers to ensure that, despite many problems, the refurbishment works were completed and the club came home in September 2017.


The winner of the Young Sports Leader/Volunteer of the Year Award went to Isaac Butterworth.

Isaac from Penrith has been leading in the world of Rugby Union, volunteering with Cumbria RFU for a number of years gaining qualifications in refereeing and coaching to support both his club and school in terms of their internal infrastructure.

On top of this, he is also a very prominent member of the Penrith RUFC Colts Team and manages to balance his playing, academic, refereeing and volunteering commitments.

A regular referee at regional level fixtures, he is a great ambassador for the sport and was recently recognised by the RFU where he refereed at Twickenham before the England v France Men's & Women's fixtures. This was linked to him registering as a Young Rugby Ambassador which has now seen him well exceed 250 hours of volunteering and make him one of the best young volunteers in the Country.


Robbie Skelton was awarded Volunteer of the Year Award.

Robbie volunteers in the world of rugby union and cricket, specifically supporting the sporting community of Cockermouth through his involvement at Cockermouth Rugby Club in the winter and Cockermouth Cricket Club in the summer.

At the rugby club he impacts across the whole club. At a junior level he is assistant coach to the clubs U14 side turning out on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. At senior level he plays for the social second team and takes on the difficult role of team manager, working hard throughout the week to ensure all players are contacted and their availability known, ensuring the club always has a team ready for the Saturday.

At a club operation level he also volunteers once a week to open up and close the club when the venue is being used for external bookings, such bookings essential to help with club finances.

On a match day he will assist behind the bar and will always volunteer for any roles if he is free to do so, on the occasions when the second team games are off he will contact the first team coach and ensure he has a job to do, often taking the role of camera man and videoing the games.

The cricket club captain Gareth White was also quick to support our winner’s nomination. “It is a great shout to nominate him for this award. He is third team vice-captain, committee member, selection committee member and will always work on the bar when required ensuring the club can bring in additional finance outside of match days. He will always volunteer for everything above and beyond as well”.


England U20’s Manager Paul Simpson, was named Cumbria’s Coach of the Year for 2017.  

A professional playing career took in over 800 matches for various clubs proceeded a managerial career that has taken him to Rochdale, hometown club Carlisle United, Preston North End, and Shrewsbury Town amongst others, our winner has since joined the Football Association as Manager of the England under 20 side, leading them to the 24 team world cup in South Korea earlier this summer.

England topped their group with wins over 6 times champions Argentina and the hosts South Korea, before beating Costa Rica, Mexico, and Italy to set up a final against Venezuela, and with a goal from Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton enough to give England a 1 – 0 win, and their first World Cup victory at any level since 1966.


The winner of Community Club of the Year went to Jogging Pals.

The Community Club of the Year Award recognizes the achievements of an active and well run sports club or sporting organization that has made a positive contribution to the local community.  Jogging Pals from Kendal, have transformed the lives of over 300 inactive people to become more regularly active through engaging them in running.

Their mantra of sport being fun, social and inclusive has seen their membership grow, and as well as everyone becoming more physically active, they have seen benefits to members mental health, confidence levels, and increased social activity and volunteering.

They offer couch to 5k sessions, mile a day activities for schools, as well as supporting members to enjoy taking part in 5k, 10k, and longer distance events. They are a well led organization making a significant difference to the health and wellbeing of their community.


The winner of the Performance Award for People with a Disability went to Nathaniel Pattinson.

This award is presented to a person with a disability who is demonstrating the highest achievement within their sport. The Judging Panel had a really hard task in selecting the winner, which demonstrates the depth of sporting talent we have in the county.

Nathan who plays Wheelchair Basketball for the Panthers is yet another Cumbrian world cup winner. This year Nathan was selected for Great Britain.

In preparation for the under 23 world championships, Nathan winner flew out to Dubai to represent GB in an international competition, coming home with the gold medal, and securing his place in the world championship squad. He then flew to Toronto to compete against the best in the world, with GB winning through to face Turkey in a gripping final, eventually coming out on top 54 – 43, and in doing so, becoming the first GB team to ever win the world under 23 championships


Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport Rally Team from Cockermouth was named 2017 Team of the Year.

M-Sport have had an excellent season winning the highly competitive environment of the World Rally Championship is quite something, but to do it and win as a privately operated independent by a massive 83 points against the manufacturing might of Hyundai, Toyota and Citroen is something else.  

This season saw our winners, in their Ford Fiesta WRC car triumph in Monte Carlo, Portugal and in the Wales Rally GB, as well as achieving podium finishes at every event throughout the course of the season.

As well as winning the Team title, they also won the Driver’s Championship, with Sebastian Ogier, and co-drivers championships with Julien Ingrassia finishing 24 points clear of their nearest rivals.

They continue to be a brilliant success story for Cumbria that shows no signs of stopping.


Junior Team of the Year went to Ulverston Victoria High School Junior Girls Orienteering Team.

The Junior Team Award is presented to the team demonstrating the highest achievement within their sport. The junior girls Orienteering Team from Ulverston Victoria High School are the current reigning British Champions, British School Score Champions, and British Schools Champions. They were also selected to represent GB at the World Schools Championships in Sicily in April, which consisted of two races, long and middle distance, with the accumulated time from both races deciding the final team positions.

The long distance race was held in very unfamiliar terrain offering poor visibility in the low trees. Despite a few minor mistakes, they finished the day in 4th place. Two days later, in the middle distance race, they blew the rest of the field away to win by over 8 mins. This amazing result gave them the overall silver medal, only 2 minutes behind Spain. 


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 was awarded to Cameron Purdham from the world of Rugby Union and Rugby League and is from Beckermet.

This year, Cockermouth RUFC’s Cameron made the Newcastle Falcons Academy U16 Team and recently signed for the U16 Squad, he has represented Cumbria as a County Player and is part of the England Academy Pathway. Due to his heritage he is also being closely monitored by Scotland as a player they would truly like to 'get hold of'. At Newcastle Falcons Cameron has gained ‘elite squad’ status, meaning he receives additional training and leadership coaching. He has also now been selected as an England Academy Player. He is a dedicated student both academically at his school West Lakes Academy, and in his rugby, and looks to have a bright future.

Cameron grew up with Rugby League in his blood following in the footsteps of his dad, Garry and his Uncle Robert who won the Special Award at Cumbria Sports Awards in 2011.


The second Rising Star went to Poppy Scholefield from Calthwaite, Penrith who is excelling in the competitive worlds of both football and cricket.

Poppy started playing for Castletown Girls at aged 10 when she won a Cumbria Sports Award in 2011 as part of the Junior Team of the Year! Since then she has gone on to play for Blackburn Rovers, and more latterly Liverpool Ladies. Now aged 16, she is now fully established in the heart of the Liverpool midfield, helping them win the prestigious Dana Cup in Denmark in July, and reaching the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup.

Also a keen cricketer, her cricketing career began at Hunter Hall School, and then at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Penrith, where her talent was spotted, and she was invited to take part in trials for Yorkshire. These proved successful and she has had 2 years playing for the Yorkshire County Squad with great success.

Due to her GCSE’s and her commitment to her football, she has decided to focus less on her cricket, and now plays in the Eden Valley Premier League for Scotby Cricket Club, against the senior men, more than holding her own!  


The third Rising Star award went to Oliver Dustin from Workington and the world of Athletics

In July this year Oliver won the Under 17 English Schools 800m title in Birmingham with a blistering sprint finish running a tremendous 1 min 51 seconds. He then followed this victory up by winning the English National 1500m title in August, again with a superb sprint finish. On the back of his English schools win, he received his first England vest in July and finished 2nd in the schools international. His 800m personal best sees him ranked 3rd fastest 16 year old in Europe, and with his blistering speed over 200m and 400m, he has huge potential to make a real impact in Athletics.


The fourth Rising Star award went to Beau Studholme from Wigton who excels in Football

This year Beau was selected for the Manchester City under 16’s after four years at Sunderland, she travels to the Etihad Academy 4 evenings each week to train, and then again for matches at the weekend. She has also represented England in both under 16 and under 17 levels since making her debut at St George’s Park in a 2-1 victory over Norway last year.

Beau who studies at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School also continued her dominance in high jump at County Competitions, and retains her 1st ranking in the North West.


The fifth rising star went to Daisy Armstrong a pupil at Sedbergh School from the world of Shooting.

Daisy won the National Individual Athelings competition this summer, where she entered the 148th Imperial international shooting competition, which is effectively the Wimbledon of long range shooting. She was competing against over 600 of the best adult long range shooters from all over the world. After the competition had concluded there was a three way tie for first place between our winner, Jon Underwood, a GB full International, and Matt Millar, a former GB Junior international.

A shoot off was held the next day to decide places 1 to 3 from 600 yards, and our winner kept her cool to triumph. She is the youngest person to ever win this competition since its inception, and one of only five females ever.


World Cup winning Curtis Anderson from Ulverston was named Junior Sports Personality of the Year

Last year Curtis received a Rising Star award at Cumbria Sports Awards, this year he is back picking up the Junior Sports Personality of the Year award following another exceptional season which saw him named as first choice goal keeper in the England Under 17 team as they competed in the Football World Cup in India.

After qualifying from their group unbeaten, our winner was the hero in a tense last 16 victory over Japan, saving one and scoring another penalty as England progressed. He then played in wins over USA, Brazil, and in the 5-2 win over Spain in the final to help England become world champions. A fantastic achievement.

Curtis has progressed in the Manchester City FC Academy for the past 6 years.


The Be Inspired Award went to Gary McKee

As a prolific fundraiser for various charities Gary took on his biggest challenge to date this year. Starting on 14th January, he ran 100 consecutive marathons in 100 consecutive days; finishing with the London Marathon on 23rd April. He wasn't satisfied with ‘just’ 26.2 miles per day but, ran extra every day so that he had extra miles in the bag in case of not being able to run on one of the days! These extra contingency miles weren't needed, and he undertook this challenge whilst still finding time to go to work and having family time.

Not only did this challenge result in our winner raising over £102,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support but, it got the whole community involved. Almost every day he had support from local people either running or cycling alongside him.

To demonstrate the amount of support he received, very early on Easter Sunday morning, over 130 people turned up at his house to accompany him on his final weekend run of the challenge on home soil.

His efforts have been noticed by many, and on 20th October, he was given the Freedom of the Borough of Copeland. He has also had a beer named after him by the Ennerdale Brewery, apparently it’s their strongest brew ever!

Gary will be able to sleep soundly soon as the recipient of a brand new Sealy bed. UK’s leading manufacturer, Aspatria based Sealy are the proud sponsors for this award and have gifted a bed as an additional prize to the award winner. The Sealy World of Sport recognises that sporting success and sleep are intrinsically linked. Whether you’re in training or recovering from injury, sleep is vital for your health and wellbeing as it restores the brain and activates the healing process, rehydrating your spinal discs.

Richard Johnston, Chair of the Cumbria Sports Awards Judging Panel 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 great nominations for the awards this year, and I know that our judging panel had a real task to choose all of the 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 role played by the army of volunteers and coaches in Cumbria”.