‘Be all you can be,’ and ‘strive to be the best’ - they were the messages echoed loud and clear to young sports men and women at this year’s Berwick Sports Awards evening.
The event was held at Berwick Rugby Club last Friday, hosted by Sport Berwick, when the achievements of individuals and teams over the previous 12 months were recognised.
Guest speaker and presenter was former England ladies rugby star Katie Storie, now a Sky Sports Mentor, who in addressing the packed gathering, encouraged youngsters to rise to the challenges which now lie ahead of them.
“These awards are for achievements over the past year,” she said, “but you should look at this as just the beginning, not the end.
“Use it as the springboard to the rest of your life.”
In an enlightening and inspirational talk, Katie told her own story of how she came from humble beginnings on a council estate in Croydon.
As ‘a big girl’ she always felt out of place. She was bulemic, but it was only after taking up weightlifting, and eventually rugby, that she found her way in life.
“I have learned that if you are different there is no harm in that. When I was young I wanted to be the same as everybody else, but I learned that in sport that if you want to succeed you sometimes have to be different.
“Make the most of what you have and try to be the best you can be.”
Katie also had a word for the people behind the scenes - the coaches - without whom many sports men and women would not reach the top.
“Quite simply, without the work of the coaches sports people would not be where they are,” she said. “We often forget their contribution, but there is no denying they have a very important role to play, and it’s nice to see that they are also recognised at awards events like this.”
In introducing the awards, Sport Berwick chairman Dave Pick said it had been ‘a fantastic year for sport.’
Sports men and women throughout the country couldn’t have helped but be inspired by The Olympics, The Paralympics, the Ryder Cup and the end to the football Premiership.
On the local front there were also many examples, including the Olympic Torch Relay, which had brought out tens of thousands of people throughout the region.
As for the awards themselves there were 12 up for grabs.
Rower Alison Inglis was the only double winner, picking up the trophies for top senior female and top team - along with her partner Hilary Cairns, who were representing Berwick Amateur Rowing Club.
Alison, who was the recipient of the Sports Personality of the Year award two years ago, before it was split into male and female categories, enjoyed another successful 2012.
She was a gold medalist at the Scottish Indoor Rowing Chamoionships, and with Hilary claimed silver medals at the British Masters at Holme Pierrepoint and the Henley Masters Regatta. Hilary, who was also a nominee in the senior female category, had won a silver at the Scottish Indoors, and that was all the judges had to separate them when it came to making their decision.
Senior male winner was Harry Thompson (boccia and wheelchair football).
Harry became the top ranked BC4 boccia player in England and won the south west and north east regional competitions. He won the national BC4 championships, where he was also pairs champion, and won a bronze medal at the DSE national championships.
Harry also competed in the GB championships and also competed in his first international event in Prague.
In powerchair football Harry played for Northern Thunder Blues and has now moved to West Bromwich Albion.
Junior male winner was cyclist Hamish Carrick who won the 2012 Scottish U16 cyclocross championship.
He rode in the Youth Tour of Ireland where he was second in the ‘King of the Mountains’ and also attended a training camp in Spain.
But he said his highlight of the year was being selected as part of the four-man Scotland team to ride at the Olympic velodrome in the Olympic Park as part of the Sainsbury’s UK School Games, virtually a UK schools Olympics Games.
The prize for top junior female went to hockey player Emilia Tyser. She is a member of Berwick Ladies, but now attends Sedberg school where she now plays. She played for Northumberland, a year above her age group, and was named as the county ‘Player of the Year’ at that level.
She was nominated to the England Hockey Player Pathway and attended regional sessions throughout the summer at Durham and was selected for the England High Performance weekend which introduces young player to the routines of an international training camp.
Emilia was unable to attend Friday’s event and her award was picked up by her mother, Caroline, on her behalf.
Top junior team was Berwick Academy badminton, made up of Rhonwen Arthur, Felicity Franks, Katy Lauder, Kara Yule and Jessica Bagley.
They retained their County Championship without the loss of a game and were regional runners-up of the Centre Parcs national competition.
One of the other nominations in this category was Lowick Falcons U12s (football), who won the Glendale League and were winners of their Fair Play trophy. As a result of this they were selected as the first recipients of the Sport Berwick Fair Play trophy as well.
“Sportsmanship and fair play is something we really want to encourage,” said Dave Pick, “which was why we hit on the idea of launching this award.”
This year the disabled award was extended to include support as well as competition, and the winner was Steve Nutt for disabled cricket.
Steve is well known in local cricketing circles for his involvement with a tillside and Northumberland county.
Not satisfied with coaching talented youngsters, Steve wanted cricket to be accessible to all so he trained to obtain a coaching award in disability cricket.
This allowed him to deliver inclusive cricket sessions and table cricket into both mainstream and special schools to disabled children.
Throughout 2012 Steve worked with the Grove School delivering sessions in their afterschool sports club.
Not satisfied with just delivering the sessions Steve then went on to identify talented students within the school and tutored them to become cricket leaders so they help organise and develop sessions to their peers.
Coach of the Year was Daniel Mulholland (badminton).
Daniel set up Berwick Junior Badminton Club and is a qualified level 2 coach. He started a Change 4 Life club at Berwick High School that has evolved into a junior community badminton club offering sessions for under 12s. He also acts as committee member and treasurer for the North Northumberland Community Badminton Network and was instrumental in obtaining a £9000+ Sport England grant to develop badminton within our area.
In Olympic year it was fitting that one of the winners should have a London connection. That honour went to Megan Rutherford, a former student at Berwick High School, who was one of the many Olympic Games Makers and who was named top volunteer.
The cost of Olympic volunteering had to be found by the applicant. Megan sorted her own accommodation and travel for the whole of the Olympic period and then went about raising the funds herself by contacting various bursaries and raising money herself.
She worked at the Excel Arena for the Judo and Wrestling tournaments. Her duties included delivering results to athlete’s families, the press and the media centres for TV.
Dave Pick said: “Megan is now part of our Olympic Games Maker legacy that the London Olympics will be forever remembered.”
Top newcomer was named as Leon Flint (motocross).
Leon has been riding since the age of three and regularly travels to Pickering in Yorkshire to compete. He has won the Pickering and District Club Championship for four years in a row, including 2012, and was second in the ACU British Grass Championship.
He was also the winner of the British Mini Bike Championships, which was shown on Sky TV, and has now been approached to ride in the Red Bull Pro National Series for the coming season.
The Service to Sport award went to Bill Dougal (badminton).
Bill started playing at the age of 15 and moved to Berwick after getting married.
He played for the Parish Club, who were virtually unbeatable, and remained with them after merging with Springhill.
At 78 Bill still plays every Monday and he is now the club chairman. He attends every junior training session and organises the two teams playing in the Berwick & District League and the one team playing in the Borders League.
It has been said many times that without his efforts badminton in Berwick could have died many years ago. Now it is thriving with manyyoungsters taking up, being successful and enjoying the sport.