One brilliant night, so many deserving winners

Under 21 winners, archers Blain Nicholson and Michael Smith.
Under 21 winners, archers Blain Nicholson and Michael Smith.

THE first Bridlington Free Press Sports Awards has been hailed as an overwhelming success.

THE first Bridlington Free Press Sports Awards has been hailed as an overwhelming success.

Almost 200 people gathered at Bridlington Rugby Club last Friday evening to reward those who had made a difference to the town’s sporting community in 2011.

Around 20 sports were represented, with many of them shortlisted for the 12 categories.

Free Press sports editor John Edwards said: “What a fantastic night. It was far more successful than any of us dared to imagine.

“Not only have we given out awards to some very worthy winners, but I think the evening was a real eye-opener.

“I don’t think people were aware of how much sporting talent we have locally, or how much time and effort goes into running the many, many clubs we have on our doorstep.

“It took several months of planning to organise the night, but I’m in no doubt we will turn this into an annual celebration.”

The mayor Coun Cyril Marsburg began proceedings by officially opening the event, and said how pleased he was to attend a new fixture in the town’s sporting calendar.

After a pie and peas supper, guest speaker David Byas addressed the audience, speaking about his success as Yorkshire cricket captain.

The Kilham-born batsman, who is now a teacher and runs his own academy, then stayed to help sponsors give out the awards and medals.

Appropriately, cricket won the first award at the first ever Free Press ceremony, as Sewerby CC were named Team of the Year after their record-breaking promotion season in 2011. They beat off runners-up Grindale CC, the town’s Yorkshire League badminton team and sailors Gerard Dyson and Tony Saltonstall.

Mark Floyd was named Coach of the Year ahead of his rugby team-mate Kieran Lawry and another rugby coach Leigh Fulton.

Then, football coach Chris Kirkham picked up the Fair Play Award for his book Show Some Respect.

A special Services To Village Sport award in memory of Bryan Brown went to Mary Sunley, to mark her fund-raising efforts in Flamborough, before Val Rennoldson received the Unsung Hero trophy for her behind-the-scenes work at Bridlington Rangers and Sewerby CC, after a touching recommendation by her husband Ken.

Bridlington Road Runners were given the town council’s plaque for Outstanding Contibutuion to the Community for their work organising the town’s half marathon over the past 30 years.

Two stalwarts shared the Services To Junior Sport Award, cricket’s Ken Towse and John Gibson MBE for his work in boxing and football.

Bridlington Club For Young People pipped Sewerby CC, and the petanque and swimming clubs to be named Club of the Year and Anne Hunter got a surprise to find she had won the Lifetime Achievement Award for her involvement with the Easter Hockey Festival.

The main awards went to swimming protege Grace Dennis (under 16s), Olympic hopeful archers Michael Smith and Blain Nicholson (under 21s) and the main Sports Person of the Year Ryan Hepworth.