Duo pick up two prizes apiece at 2019 Greene King West Suffolk Sports Awards
Mildenhall referee Abi Byrne and St Edmund Pacers’ running star Lewis Sullivan saw their outstanding seasons recognised with two trophies each at the 2019 Greene King West Suffolk Sports Awards.
A glitzy ceremony organised by Abbeycroft Leisure on behalf of West Suffolk Council and hosted by BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Graeme Mac celebrated the contributions of individuals and teams in the area at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Tuesday.
Newmarket’s retired javelin star Goldie Sayers was among the audience and was given a special Outstanding Contribution to Sport award in the same year she finally received her Olympic bronze medal from Beijing 2008, following the Russian doping scandal.
It was an extra special night for football official Byrne, 27, and Sybil Andrews Academy pupil Sullivan, 15, though with their double awards.
Byrne was presented with the SRS Leisure Individual Performance of The Year award after a whirlwind 12 months which saw her become the first female official from Suffolk to be accepted on to FIFA’s list of international referees, as well as drawing high praise for her performance out in the middle in the Women’s FA Cup final.
She then beat off competition from race walker Callum Wilkinson, javelin thrower Harry Hughes and wind surfer Matt Barton to be crowned Greene King Sports Personality of The Year at the end of the evening.
“It is crazy, I did not expect that at all,” she said of the two awards. “I was just really happy to even be nominated, so I was not expecting to actually win an award.”
Byrne, who despite officiating on the Women’s Super League now still referee’s the Bury & District Sunday League and gives her time to helping coach the next generation in Suffolk, added her next goal is to follow in the footsteps of the only female official to land a full-time job.
“Eight years ago I just thought why not give it a go and get a bit fit and meet new people but now it has really took off,” said the part-time Mildenhall accounts worker.
“I operate on the Women’s Super League at the moment and it is really good. There is so many more spectators in bigger stadiums as well so it is a really big opportunity.”
Sullivan’s last 12 months saw him become the first Suffolk winner of the the English Schools Cross Country Championships before winning on his England debut in Dublin and then going on to transfer that form to the track with the British Under-15s 1500m Outdoor Championships title.
He received a huge cheer as he was read out as the Iliffe Media People’s Youth Champion followed by the Newmarket Races Young Sports Personality of The Year.
“It is really good. I did not expect two awards, not even one really and for my club (St Edmund Pacers) to do so well as well just makes it even more enjoyable,” he said.
“It has been a good year for my club and myself and I could not have done what I have without their help and support, as well as my family and friends. I am very thankful for it.”
Martyn Brophy, Sullivan’s mentor, backed up his words by walking off with the Active Suffolk Coach of The Year Award.
St Edmund Pacers’ chairman Stephen Williams received the KiiWii Clothing and Promotions Triumph Over Adversity Award for his all his efforts to be highly active with the club despite his ongoing long-running battle with cancer.
Will Terry, a Stowmarket Striders member who became the Bury St Edmunds Junior Parkrun director despite being only 18 at the time, was voted by the public as their Iliffe Media People’s Champion.
“It feels pretty amazing and I was definitely not expecting to get it,” said Tostock-based Terry, who is now living away beginning his health and exercise degree at Lincoln University after leaving Thurston Community College.
“Words cannot describe how amazing the people at the parkrun have been, ever since my very first one when I was very, very nervous. They pushed me out of my comfort zone to become race director and helped me stand up every Sunday morning in front of 200-odd people and I never thought I saw myself doing something like that.”
It was also a good night for Bury St Edmunds Hockey Club who picked up the Alliance Leisure Club of the Year after former chairman and president David Johnson beat off competition including Goldie Sayers to win the Music Sales Group Charitable Trust Lifetime Achievement Award.
Allied Health Professionals Suffolk Most Active Workplace: Sanofi Haverhill
Go Ape School of The Year: Moulton Primary School
Unison Unsung Hero: Annemarie Vis
Beckett Investment Community Volunteer of The Year: Ben Cowling
KiiWii Clothing and Promotions Triumph Over Adversity: Stephen Williams
Music Sales Group Charitable Trust Lifetime Achievement: David Johnson
Personal Images Ltd Outstanding Contribution to Sport: Goldie Sayers
SRS Leisure Individual Performance of The Year: Abi Byrne
Active Suffolk Coach of The Year: Martyn Brophy
Iliffe Media People’s Champion: Will Terry
Iliffe Media People’s Youth Champion: Lewis Sullivan
Alliance Leisure Club of the Year: Bury St Edmunds Hockey Club
Newmarket Races Young Sports Personality of The Year: Lewis Sullivan
Greene King Sports Personality of The Year: Abi Byrne
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More by this authorRussell Claydon