Norfolk’s best sporting talent recognised at awards
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They are some of our county's most inspirational sports people who have gone above and beyond to achieve success. In this special supplement we celebrate the 12 winners of this year's Norfolk Sports Awards. Luke Powell reports.
Hundreds of guests and local sports personalities gathered at the Forum last night for one of the region's biggest sporting ceremonies.
The annual Norfolk Sports Awards honour the very best sporting talent in our county, as well as the local people and organisations who have dedicated their time to helping others.
And competition was tougher than ever this year, with more than 100 nominated across the county.
Ben Jones, director of Active Norfolk, said: 'It was a very strong field tonight, from talented young adults to volunteers who have been volunteering in their sport for decades. We were really excited to recognise the great and good of Norfolk sport.'
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Last month a panel of judges were given the difficult task of choosing just 38 finalists from a very high standard of candidates.
The final 12 were then selected ready for the awards ceremony yesterday evening. The categories for this year covered everything from the sporting achievements of young people to the dedication shown by volunteers and coaches across the county.
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Among the recipients was British Paralympic swimmer and gold medallist Jessica-Jane Applegate and world junior number one wheelchair tennis player Alfie Hewett.
The winner of winners trophy went to 47-year-old Frances Rayner, of Downham Market, who has worked tirelessly to encourage her local community get active and take up sport.
And the volunteer coach of the year award was given to Attleborough Boxing Club's head coach Jon Dennis.
The 45-year-old gives up 40 voluntary hours each week to keep the club alive.
Presenting the awards was Sky Sports host Simon Thomas.
The former Blue Peter presenter, who was born in Norwich and lived in Cromer, said: 'It's a real honour to have been asked to present the Norfolk Sports Awards this year.
'I spent my childhood growing up in Norfolk, so to be able to come back and help celebrate is fantastic.
'I want to say a huge congratulations, not only to the winners, but to everyone that was shortlisted for the awards tonight.
'It's truly inspiring to see so much sporting success in the county that remains very close to my heart.'