Huntingdonshire honours its sports community at The Hunts Post Sports Awards
- Credit: Archant
IT isn’t often that so many great sports people get together in one place – but at Hinchingbrooke Arts last week, the great and the good of Huntingdonshire sport turned out for the third annual Hunts Post Sports Awards where nominees and winners were honoured for their achievements over the last year.
There were awards for teams and individuals, from the under-8s of Huntingdon & District Rugby Union Club to the newly-promoted Southern League footballers of St Ives Town, from Lauren Steadman, who swam for Great Britain at the 2012 Paralympics and Jonathan Railton, who races motorbikes on the national stage.
In the end it was Railton, from Grafham, who was named the 2013 Sports Personality of the Year – and he told Sue Dougan, the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire presenter, who was the compere for the evening: “Obviously my sport isn’t as mainstream as the likes of football, but there is a lot of passion for motorsport in Huntingdonshire – and to get into it you need to have a lot of commitment and time.”
The 22-year-old, who was introduced to the sport by his father David Railton, who rode motorbikes in the 1970s and 80s, added: “That makes those who get involved in motorsport stand out I think. It’s great to see my sport getting recognised.”
Indeed, one of the other two nominees for the award was Guy Jolly, the Huntingdon stock car racer who drove in the V8 Hotstox World Championships in Coventry last year, while Dan Keatings, the Huntingdon Gym gymnast who is currently a part of the Great Britain men’s artistic team after missing out on a place at the London 2012 Olympics because of injury, was the third nominee.
Last year’s Sports Personality, the 19-year-old sprinter, Ryan Palmer, wasn’t in the audience to see Railton receive his award from Huntingdon Audi’s head of business, Peter Phelan, because he was celebrating another major achievement of his own after running the anchor leg for England South’s under-20s 4x100m team who won gold in Wales.
“It just goes to show that there is much sporting talent in Huntingdonshire,” said The Hunts Post sports reporter Richard Hughes. “Ryan and Jonathan are both dedicated and hard working competitors – as are all of today’s nominees.
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“Covering sport in the district is exciting and an honour.”
Hughes presented the Judges’ Award on the night to St Ives Town Football Club who will be playing the game in the Southern League this season, its highest level ever.
Another team celebrating promotion is Huntingdon & District Rugby Union Club. The Stags won two awards: the Junior Team of the Year (for their under-8s team) and Senior Team. But coach Damian Whales missed out on the Manager/Coach of the Year award which went to John Burling, who runs the swimming club at First Strokes in Godmanchester.
Burling was delighted with his award and pointed to 21-year-old Andrew Weatheritt, the winner of the Outstanding Achievement (Over-18) award, during his acceptance speech. Weatheritt is aiming for a place at the 2016 Olympics after just missing out on a place at swimming’s World Championships.
“I have some great swimmers at the club,” said Burling. “And one day I hope to have someone as good as that guy – because he’s brilliant.”
Weatheritt learned his sport at St Ives Swimming Club and is now at Loughborough University.
Shona Whitwell is another hot prospect. The 15-year-old boxer, who is a three-time England Schoolgirl Champion, won the Outstanding Achievement (Under-18) award after recently making her debut in Hungary for the England Amateur Boxing Team. She is coached by her father, Steve Whitwell, who runs St Ives Boxing Club, where the St Neots professional, Tommy Martin, also learned his trade.
School of the Year went to Priory Junior School, a school where deputy headteacher Kevin Sadler continues to work hard to get children interested in sport at an early age. It is people like Sadler who inspire the future David Beckhams, Jessica Ennis-Hills and Mo Farrahs of UK sport.
Huntingdon & District Rugby Union Club had five nominations on the night and won two awards with the first team named Team of the Year (Senior) and the club’s under-8s named Team of the Year (Junior).
In fact, it was the young Stags who were first to be presented with a trophy and the team’s coach David Alvis told Sue Dougan: “They are champions, they really are, they have won pretty much every tournament they have entered this season and they have scored 1,098 in one year.”
But things will change for the youngsters now with the move from the non-contact form of tag rugby to the contact version. That will bring with it fresh challenges for the players, but the success of the club’s first team, coached by Damian Whales (nominated for Coach/Manager of the Year), and captained by Ben Strangeways, should inspired the under-8s and all of the other youth teams that train week in, week out at the Racecourse in Brampton.
And George Furbank, right, is another rugby player who will be an inspiration to the those just starting out.
The 16-year-old began playing rugby with Stags at an early age but is now part of the youth development set-up at Premiership side Northampton Saints; he has also played for England a youth level in the last 12 months.
Furbank was nominated in the Outstanding Achievement (Over-18s) category and just missed out on the award to boxer Shona Whitwell, proving once again that competition is fierce in Huntingdonshire sport. The other nominee from the club was Unsung Hero Simon Millar.
The evening wasn’t dominated by Huntingdonshire’s young talent, though – the Lifetime Achievement award was won by Jim Bremner, whose work over many years with senior and latterly youth football teams has certainly not gone unnoticed.
Bremner was nominated alongside another of Huntingdonshire sports’ well-known faces, Allan Dalrymple, who received the award last year. Dalrymple paid his own tribute to Bremner after accepting his certificate. He told the audience: “Jim is a gentleman who has done so much for local football – he helped me set up Huntingdon Rowdies in 1980 and this award couldn’t go to a better man.”
Bremner, who still works for the Huntingdonshire Football Association, was presented with his award by the Mayor of Huntingdon, Councillor Bill Hensley, who told those in the room: “Well done to all the finalists. Actually getting here tonight is a great achievement – and for what it is worth, you are all winners.”
Bremner, who moved to Huntingdonshire in 1966, said: “I have made some many friends in football and I still walk down the street now and see people I have known for years and years. My enjoyment these days is seeing the youngsters enjoy themselves.”