New sports awards and venue for West Suffolk

NEW LOOK: From l-r - Marie Taylor (St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Events and Marketing Manager), Tania Wreathall (Greene King Sales Development Manager), Gary Atyes (Head of Commercial Development, Abbeycroft Leisure) and Cllr Joanna Rayner (Cabinet member for Leisure and Culture, St Edmunsbury Borough Council) are all smiles at the launch of this year's West Suffolk Sports Awards. Picture: Andy Abbott Photography
NEW LOOK: From l-r - Marie Taylor (St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Events and Marketing Manager), Tania Wreathall (Greene King Sales Development Manager), Gary Atyes (Head of Commercial Development, Abbeycroft Leisure) and Cllr Joanna Rayner (Cabinet member for Leisure and Culture, St Edmunsbury Borough Council) are all smiles at the launch of this year's West Suffolk Sports Awards. Picture: Andy Abbott Photography
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A joint awards to celebrate the wealth of sporting talent and volunteer contributions at clubs across St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath districts was launched this week.

Termed the West Suffolk Sports Awards, it follows on from the St Edmunsbury Sports Awards and Forest Heath Sports Awards, which ran separately last year and are delivered by Abbeycroft Leisure on behalf of the two partner councils.

With the Apex in Bury St Edmunds being a regular venue for the more established St Edmundsbury awards, which celebrated 10 years last November, and the debut Forest Heath one having held their presentations at now Abbeycroft-run Newmarket Leisure Centre, there will be a new stunning backdrop for the inaugural combined awards.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds will host a glittering celebration of West Suffolk’s sporting community on September 28.

Abbeycroft’s head of commercial development, Gary Atyes, said: “It made perfect sense to now combine the two award ceremonies into one bigger and better event, and we wanted a grand venue in which to host it. So we’re obviously thrilled to partner with St Edmundsbury Cathedral.”

The Cathedral’s events manager, Marie Taylor, added: “The Cathedral is at the heart of the community and this is a brilliant opportunity to celebrate sporting talent in our region.

“We are proud to partner with Abbeycroft Leisure to plan a fantastic evening and also highlight this iconic building’s history and beauty whilst demonstrating that we are an inclusive venue for all sorts of events and engagement, as well as the main purpose of worship.”

Bury-based brewing giant Greene King has agreed to act as headline sponsor of the new awards, having supported the sports awards in both Bury and Newmarket in recent years.

Meanwhile, local companies are also invited to sponsor individual awards.

Greene King’s sales development manager, Tania Wreathall, said: “As a Bury St Edmunds-based brewer and supporter of sport at every level, it was a natural choice for us to once again back our local sports awards.

“These awards recognise the outstanding achievements of new and established talent in our community and we wish everyone the best of luck as the nominations open.”

Nominations for the awards are now open online with 12 categories available including Sports Personality, Unsung Hero, Club of the Year, Lifetime Achievement and the new School of the Year award.

Members of the public will also have the chance to vote for People’s Champion and Young People’s Champion awards through the Echo and sister titles the Newmarket Journal and the Bury Free Press.

Cllr Andy Drummond and Cllr Joanna Rayner, cabinet members for leisure and culture respectively at Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said they hope the stories told through the awards provide motivation for more people to take the often difficult first steps to a healthier lifestyle.

n To nominate someone for an award, visit www.acleisure.com/nominate or to sponsor an award contact gary.atyes@acleisure.com