Swales’ determination recognised by two awards

DOUBLE UP: David Swailes receives his Iliffe Media People's Champion award from Bury Free Press sports editor Russell Claydon
DOUBLE UP: David Swailes receives his Iliffe Media People's Champion award from Bury Free Press sports editor Russell Claydon
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He may have collected two accolades at last Thursday’s inaugural West Suffolk Sports Awards, yet David Swales believes he has done nothing special.

It was in April 2016 that the St Edmunds Pacers member suffered a stroke after completing a 10K race, leaving him with a 40 per cent loss of sight, mild aphasia, neurofatigue and cognitive problems.

However, the 54-year-old has refused to be beaten and he recently finished another 10K, raising £2,700 for Stowmarket-based Icanho, who have provided Swales with significant help since his stroke.

He is also well on the way to meeting his target of running 1,000 miles in 2017 and such determination was recognised at the St Edmundsbury Cathedral, where Swales went away with the Iliffe Media People’s Champion and Greene King Triumph Over Adversity awards.

The Bury St Edmunds resident, though, has insisted he is just making the best of the bad hand he has been dealt.

“I am really pleased with the awards — it is quite overwhelming,” he said.

“But I do not think I have done anything particularly special.

“I am just a middle-aged person that has had something bad happen to them.

“I wanted to get back running — I see it as a little battle with the stroke. It is trying to beat me and I will not let it happen.

“Running is my way of telling the stroke it is not going to win.

“I could not have done it without either the Pacers or Icanho — they have been amazing.”

A host of awards were handed out throughout the evening, which was sponsored by Greene King and organised by Abbeycroft Leisure, to celebrate local sporting heroes, volunteers, clubs, coaches, teams and individuals.

As guest of honour and Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell watched on, Bury St Edmunds Tchoukball Club’s Ian Parker scooped the Greene King Sports Personality of the Year award, beating off competition from British race walking sensation Callum Wilkinson.

Parker, a former reporter at sister newspaper the Suffolk Free Press, said: “It was a real surprise to be chosen, especially considering the achievements of the other nominees.

“It’s such a great thing to have our sport recognised in this way.

“We are a small sport but we spend hours trying to get others involved and give them opportunities to play at the highest level they can, whether that be locally or at international level.

“Being a smaller sport means players really do have the chance to play for their country at all age levels: men women, boys and girls.

“I’d love people to get in touch and have a go and maybe they could be off competing in different parts of the world like I’ve been able to.”

West Suffolk Sports Awards winners: Allied Health Professionals Most Active Workplace - Sanofi, Verse Facilities Management School of the Year - Bury St Edmunds County Upper, Unison Unsung Hero - Ann Williamson, Newprint Community Volunteer of the Year presentation - Allan Loveday. Greene King Triumph Over Adversity - David Swales, Our Bury St Edmunds BID Lifetime Achievement - Wyn Jones, Matrix Individual Performance or Achievement of the Year - Anna Street. Suffolk Sport Coach of the Year - Paul Hope. Iliffe Media People’s Champion - David Swales. Newmarket Racecourses People’s Youth Champion - Phoebe Hastings. Music Sales Club of the Year - Jetts Netball Club. Paddy & Scotts Young Sports Personality of the Year - Esther Little, Greene King Sports Personality of the Year - Ian Parker