Winners of St Edmundsbury Sports Awards 2015 revealed at inspiring event

Race Walker Callum Wilkinson
Race Walker Callum Wilkinson
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The winners of the ninth St Edmundsbury Sports Awards 2015, sponsored by Greene King, have been announced at an inspiring event at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds.

More than 200 guests were in attendance at the awards including members of local sports clubs, local sporting stars, Rio 2016 hopefuls, local businesses and a host of sports industry delegates.

The Greene King Sports Personality of the Year Award went to race walker and former King Edward VI School student Callum Wilkinson, who is coached by Mick Graham and mentored by Commonwealth games gold medallist Ron Wallwork MBE.

In just three years Callum has gone from absolute novice to Britain’s top Junior (U20) and national record holder in the technically demanding athletics discipline of race walking, at a range of distances from 1 mile up to 10K. Callum works incredibly hard to be the best in his sport and shows huge commitment and dedication.

Throughout he has remained grounded and was described in his nomination as ‘an inspiration to other young sports men and women and a great ambassador for his sport’.

Callum has represented England and Great Britain at competitions in Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Spain and Sweden.

His personal bests are on the top 10 UK all time lists for most distances. His best achievement to date is 7th place at the European Junior Athletics Championships where, as part of the winning Great Britain and Northern Ireland team, he broke the 28-year-old British 10km record.

He is now ranked the second best 18-year-old race walker in Europe. He successfully retained the three national junior titles and gained a senior national title. Callum has also won two silver medals at the British Senior Championships.

Callum, 18, who trains at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre was watched by his mum, dad and brother as well as his mentor Ron Wallwork MBE as he collected his award.

He said: “It was really unexpected. It is fantastic recognition of what has been a fantastic year for me. I came 7th in Europe this year so I’m going for top 3 at the Junior Championships next year. This is great motivation for me.”

Basketballer Esther Little was named Suffolk Sport Young Sports Personality of the Year and Newmarket Racecourses People’s Youth Champion a new award for 2015. Esther has not only made the England U15 girls team this season, but she has achieved this a year young. She is one of only three girls to achieve this in the team in the country.

Esther was also in the starting five 4 or 5 times for England. Not only does she have great athletic ability, but because of the training she also commits to swimming and netball, her all round fitness and achievements across these sports this year have been excellent. She was third in her age group at swimming at the county championships and won gold in several individual events. She also qualified for the regional championships and was part of Suffolk’s Netball County Academy Programme and the Herts Mavericks Development Programme.

This year’s Music Sales Club of the Year was won by Bury St Edmunds Tchoukball Club. It is the third time in succession that the successful Club has taken home the award.

Bury St Edmunds Tchoukball Club have enjoyed yet another record-breaking Tchoukball season. The club remain unbeaten in the league since January 2014, and in so doing have won a fourth successive championship trophy. On top of this, they finished 11th in Europe.

The second team, Bury Saints enjoyed some of the success enjoyed by the Kings. Finishing fourth in the Andrews Shield, and fourth overall in the National League Division 1.

Their best result ever. Bury also retained the National Youth Championships, and as a marker of this success, the Tchoukball UK National League will see the inclusion of its first U16 team in the league, Bury Wolves.

Newmarket Motor Company Coach of the Year went to Phil Ward of West Suffolk Swimming Club. Phil has been actively coaching with the club for 25 years, 7 days a week for 49 weeks of the year and has helped coach swimmers to county, regional and national success.

Over the last three years, one swimmer has gone from joining the club to this year qualifying to swim at the National Championships and Phil has overseen her progression during that time.

Swimmers under Phil’s supervision helped contribute towards the club winning the top County Development Club Award earlier this year.

Phil said: “It was a shock. I didn’t think I’d have a chance of winning. It feels very good. It makes me feel that I must be doing a reasonable job of coaching to get this recognition.”

The Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District Lifetime Achievement Award went to Kevin Pullen of Haverhill Rugby Club who has been involved with local rugby for an amazing 50 years next year, as a player, captain, coach, mentor and serving on Haverhill Rugby Club committee in various positions over the years.

Kevin started playing Rugby as a child in 1967 and played throughout his school years. Kevin went on to play at senior level for Old Shootershillians RUFC until 1981/2.

It was in 1982 he started playing at Haverhill Rugby Club and he has been there for over 30 years. He has been first team captain, second team captain and the 7’s team captain. There isn’t a position he hasn’t played.

He has been coaching for 20 years and has passed his passion and love of rugby to his children (his daughter Sam is a coach at the club) and his grandchildren Ben, Amelia and Ewan, who play in the junior section.

Such is his passion for his sport that he is giving up his time over the next few weeks to volunteer for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Kevin’s wife, daughter and grandchildren watched and cheered as he collected his award on Friday (Oct2). He said: “It’s wonderful to receive this award. I’m very honored and humbled. It’s nice to be recognised for what will be 50 years involvement in rugby next year.”

The Revel Outdoors Individual Performance of the Year Award went to athlete Rhys Turnbull-Bester.

The 15-year-old T20 athlete underlined his status as one of the best young athletes in the country at the Typhoo National Junior Championships in July, winning four gold medals.

Rhys won the 800m, 400m and the 200m events to become a triple national champion in his disability classification T20 (Intellectual Disabilities).

Rhys continued his blistering form to help his team finish first in the 4 x 400m relay claiming a 4th team gold medal.

The Greene King Triumph Over Adversity Award went to Brian Cash of Bury St Edmunds Croquet Club.

Brian, a former Bury St Edmunds headteacher and Ofsted inspector, has Frontal Temporal Dementia, an incurable progress disease.

Brian took up Golf Croquet in 2002 and he quickly reduced his playing handicap from 12 to 3, becoming very skillful, tactical and competitive in all aspects of the game.

For five years he was a club committee member and as a player he has represented the club in all matches and tournaments during the last 10 years. He has coached and encouraged new players, helping them develop good skill and strategies.

As Brian’s illness has progressed many of his other pursuits and interests have come to a stop, yet he still plays Golf Croquet at a high level, exceeding all expectations.

His determination to achieve has been described by fellow members of his club as ‘an inspiration to others’, particularly as he has recently been diagnosed with a visual impairment.

The Bury Town Football Club Most Active Workplace Award went to solicitors firm Ashton KCJ.

Ashton KCJ offer several sporting activities from rounders to self defence classes in all of their seven offices around East Anglia.

Employees are encouraged to take part in any event and the variety of activities gives each individual the opportunity to participate if they would like to. The firm also have an active cycling club who participated in several cycling events throughout the year and a health wellbeing group which follow a yearly action plan of events such as Yoga, Pilates and touch rugby.

The Sodexo Community Volunteer and Unison Unsung Hero awards both went to Allan Loveday of Thurlow Sports Club.

Allan oversees Thurlow Youth Football and Thurlow Tennis Club, as well as maintaining the sports field. This is a thankless task and he spends most evenings tending to the pitch and grounds.

He has led the project to replace the children’s play area on the Thurlow Recreation Ground this year and overseen the organisation of the Thurlow Fayre and Bonfire Night events for many years.

Without the financial support Allan’s work provides, both the Football Club and Tennis Club would struggle to be financially viable.

Allan said he would be taking his two trophies to the youth football game in Thurlow today (Oct 3).

He said: “This for me is recognition of the culmination of 43 years of devotion to sport in Thurlow and the surrounding area. I feel I am representing the rest of my committee and the village of Thulow here tonight. It is very much a reward for all the hard work and effort and long hours that we have put in. For a small village such as Thurlow to win both awards is the pat on the back not only for me but for everyone.”

The Bury Free Press and Haverhill Echo People’s Champion Award, voted on by the public, went to Julie Ankers of Haverhill Rovers Football Club.

This year Julie has volunteered for huge time-consuming roles at the football club due to the lack of volunteers and without Julie the provision of football for 400 football players and 30 teams wouldn’t be able to happen.

Julie this year has taken on the work as club secretary, treasurer and even managed a girls U11s team. Julie also communicates for the Club through all hours of the day.

Julie said: “I’d like to thank everyone for voting for me by facebook and text. I work very much behind the scenes and I do what I do so that the players can play. That’s what its all about for me. Receiving this award promotes the work of the club to help it grow.”

The full winners list:

Greene King Sports Personality of the Year

Callum Wilkinson (race walking)

Suffolk Sport Young Sports Personality of the Year

Esther Little (basketball)

Newmarket Racecourses People’s Youth Champion

Esther Little (basketball)

Bury Free Press and Haverhill Echo People’s Champion

Julie Ankers (Haverhill Rovers Football Club)

Newmarket Motor Company Coach of the Year

Phil Ward (West Suffolk Swimming Club)

Revel Outdoors Individual Performance /Achievement of the Year

Rhys Turnbull-Bester (athletics)

Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District Lifetime Achievement

Kevin Pullen (Haverhill Rugby Club)

Greene King Triumph Over Adversity

Brian Cash (Bury St Edmunds Croquet Club)

Sodexo Community Volunteer

Allan Loveday (Thurlow Sports Club)

Unsung Hero

Allan Loveday (Thurlow Sports Club)

Bury Town Football Club Most Active Workplace

Ashton KCJ

Music Sales Ltd Club of the Year

Bury St Edmunds Tchoukball Club

During a break in the awards ceremony local sporting stars race walker Callum Wilkinson, triathletes Lesley Linden and Mandy Bunn, basketball stars Esther Little and Maya Price, along with Boccia athletes and Rio 2016 hopefuls Evie Edwards and Will Hipwell were quizzed by Bury Free Press and Haverhill Echo Sports Editor Russell Claydon on their career highlights to date.

Matt Hickey, Abbeycroft’s Health, Fitness & Physical Activity Development Manager, said: “It has been another fantastic year for local sport, you can see this by the growing number of entries to our awards and the high standard of the nominees. The judges had some very difficult decisions to make this year and we congratulate all the winners.

“I would like to thank everyone who nominated and who took the time to take part in the public voting categories of the awards.

“Abbeycroft would also like to thank our headline sponsor Greene King and our individual award sponsors for helping continue to make the awards possible, along with our media partners the Bury Free Press and Haverhill Echo for helping us spread the word.”