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Rochdale Borough celebrates its Sports Achievers at this Year's Awards Ceremony
- 18 September 2014
An audience of over 130 gathered last night (Wednesday 17 September) to hear who would walk away with the prestigious prizes for this year's Rochdale Borough Sports Awards. This Link4Life annual event recognises the achievements during the past year of the many people actively involved in supporting or taking part in sport in the borough.
Hosted at the Rochdale Rugby Union Club, Link4Life Chief Executive, Gillian Bishop greeted the guests with a warm welcome: "Tonight is about celebrating and acknowledging achievements in sport in the borough over the last year. This year marks the 14th Rochdale Borough Community Sports Awards. On behalf of Link4Life, it is an absolute delight to be able to celebrate the success of individual athletes, clubs and volunteers. The passion, week in, week out, all year round is truly admirable." She went on to thank all those who had taken the time to make their nominations, without whom the event would not be possible.
Highly commended and award winners were announced by the evening's MC, Andy Hargreaves with awards to be made in the seven categories of Sports Achiever of the Year, Disabled Sports Achiever of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Changing Lifestyles Recognition Award, Coach of the Year, Unsung Hero and Club of the Year.
Competition, as usual, was fierce and sports represented included swimming, gymnastics, athletics, archery, handball, badminton, cycling, football, cheerleading and climbing. Disability sports were also represented including boccia, cycling and swimming.
Guest presenters of the awards included the Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Carol Wardle, Chair of Link4Life Board of Trustees, Clint Street, Acting Director of Public Health, Wendy Meston, Cabinet Member for Community, Culture and Tourism at Rochdale Borough Council, Councillor Daalat Ali together with sponsors of this year's Volunteer of the Year award, Recruitment Solutions (Northwest) Ltd and Iain Johnstone from Rochdale AFC.
Special guest speaker, Middleton based, Joanna Rowsell MBE shared her experiences of her journey from a 15 year old with no interest in sport to one of Great Britain's shining lights in the world of cycling. Joanna is a member of the Great Britain Cycling Team. She competed at the London 2012 Olympics where she won Gold in the Women's Team Pursuit. She is currently the National, European and World Champion, and also the World Record Holder for this event. On her way to Olympic gold the team set their 6th successive World Record for the 3km event.
Joanna continues to compete on the track and is a five times World Champion - four in the Team Pursuit and one in the Individual Pursuit. She recently won Gold in Glasgow to become Individual Pursuit Commonwealth Games Champion and is now working towards her goal of competing at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Joanna, 25, continues to ride for Wiggle Honda Women's Pro Cycling Team and competes on the road in both the UK and Europe.
The 'Disabled Sports Achiever of the Year' award was presented by Joanna Rowsell to Boccia player Daniel Wain. In May 2014 Daniel took part in the Great Britain Championships, came top of his group and finished in third place overall. Placed now third in Great Britain he has recently been selected to train towards the Paralympic Games in 2016.
Winner of the 'Sports Achiever of the Year' was Molly Howell who received her award from the Mayor, Councillor Carol Wardle. Molly, just 15 years old, competes at World and National Level and is Captain of the Hollingworth Lake Activity Club, She races for Hollingworth Lake in the North West and Pugneys in the North East and has been on the Royal Yachting Association's Zone Squad. She is also on the list for possible selection to the National squad next season.
'Club of the Year' went to The East Lancashire Road Club. This racing cycling club is a fully inclusive club that has shown massive increase in numbers over the past year and supported the recent Tour de France Grand Depart. Supporting all members, male or female, no matter what their age, their aim is to provide a range of competitions that encourage members to push themselves and have the potential for individual recognition from winning a trophy.
'Coach of the Year' went to Karen Carter. Karen coaches at Middleton Arena with Rochdale Triathlon Club. Karen gives her time every Thursday evening coaching members of all abilities from beginners to intermediate. Karen's social warmth and sensitive approach ensure steady and constant progress so that athletes become confident and talented.
Karen Reynolds and Sheila McQuillam from Recruitment Solutions presented Bryan Woodcock with the 'Volunteer of the Year' award not only for his work at the Rochdale Company of Archers but also at County, Regional and National levels. Bryan is completely devoted to his sport of Archery and when not coaching he can be found doing many other volunteer roles including cleaning, repairing and setting outdoor ranges. Bryan combines this with a full-time job and is currently studying for an Honours Degree in Sport.
The award for 'Unsung Hero' gives special recognition to the person who has made an impact for at least ten years on people, club, school or within the community and this year it went to David Trippier. David started at his club in 1972 at the grand age of 15 and has given over 40 years to the sport of cycling. As Club Secretary of The East Lancs Road Club he is involved in all aspects of the club and has particularly worked to develop the youth and junior team, a ladies only section and a senior racing team. Membership of the club has now grown from just two to over 100 and David has made a huge contribution to this success.
The 'Changing Lifestyle Recognition Award' is a relatively new category which was introduced to acknowledge individuals who have made a significant impact or contribution to improving their health and well-being and the award was won by Roger Varnom. Roger suffered a stroke in 1995 which affected the right side of his body and restricted use of his right arm and leg. Following an eight week rehabilitation session and a twelve week GP referral programme he went on make himself a member of Link4Life Fitness dramatically increasing his personal health and fitness. Whilst continuing at the gym he also attends a Walking Football session and is now a regular player of the Walking Football squad. Roger is a great Ambassador for the Stroke Association.
Adding to the entertainment on the night was a presentation from Link4Life's Arts and Heritage Service with Head of Service, Julian Jefferson talking about sport through the ages and Rochdale Schools Programme facilitator Cat Jessop in character as 'Miss Grimm', the strict school mistress, who took the audience back to the drill classes of the Victorian era. Guests were later brought right up to date with a fantastic demonstration of Spinning delivered by Link4Life fitness instructors Elaine Stott and Shelly Burns. A collection on the evening also raised £166.20 towards the Rochdale Gateway accessible minibus fund.
Rounding up the evening, the Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Wardle thanked Link4Life for their work in organising the event and commended all nominees and award winners for their efforts over the year. She said, "It's been a pleasure to be part of this celebration of our sporting achievers and to recognise the efforts of so many people that help to make the borough a better and healthier place for everyone."
Link4Life would welcome sponsors for next year's Awards. Anyone interested in sponsoring a sporting category is asked to contact Julie Durrant at Link4Life on 01706 926201.
Winners of the Rochdale Borough Sports Awards will now go on to represent the borough at the Greater Manchester Sports Awards in November to be held at The Point, Lancashire Cricket Club.