Awards for the best of Norfolk sport

Gold-medal winning shooting star Mick Gault was crowned Sports Personality of the Year at the inaugural Norfolk Sports Awards last night.

Gold medal-winning shooting star Mick Gault was crowned Sports Personality of the Year at the inaugural Norfolk Sports Awards last night.

Gault, from Dereham, fended off the challenge of world under-25 bowls champion Jamie Chestney and British lightweight boxing champion Jon Thaxton to lift the trophy.

The marksman is England's most decorated Commonwealth Games competitor. He has won 15 medals in four games including a gold in the 25m standard pistol pairs in Melbourne last year.

Gault received his award at the black tie event, run by the Eastern Daily Press, Active Norfolk and Norwich Union and held at Dunston Hall.

The evening was hosted by former Anglia TV sports presenter Kevin Piper while special guest was double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes.

Judges praised the high level of entries in all categories in the first event of its kind.

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Archant Norfolk head of sport Richard Willner said: “The standard of entries was very high and variety of sports impressive. Any of the finalists could have been winners - and worthy winners at that.

“But congratulations must go to all of our winners in the first year of these awards. Let's hope that this is the first year of what becomes an established event in our county.”

Dame Kelly won gold at the 800m and 1,500m at the 2004 Athens Olympics and won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award later that year.

She is now in a role aimed at inspiring schoolchildren to enjoy more sporting activity through her government-backed role as national school sport champion, supported by both Norwich Union and the Youth Sport Trust.

As part of her role, Dame Kelly has developed Norwich Union Girls Active, designed to empower teenage girls to enjoy more sports activity.

And Dame Kelly also spearheads the Norwich Union-supported On Camp With Kelly initiative, aiming to inspire and mentor the next generation of female middle-distance athletes through a series of initiatives aimed at identifying and nurturing talent.

Dame Kelly was also on hand to present the Norwich Union Young Sports Person of the Year award to City of Norwich athlete Rachel Stringer, who won the English Schools Championships 800 metres and England under-20 indoor 800m title to take her to number one in Britain for her age group.

The all-conquering King's Lynn Stars speedway team scooped the Team/Club of the Year after an incredible 12 months. Last year they won an unprecedented hat-trick of titles - the British Premier League, Knockout Cup and Premier Trophy - and have this season managed to defend their Premier Trophy crown while they are also in the final of the Knockout Cup.

Coach of the Year pitted three hockey specialists against each other, with Ali Wardale coming out on top. For 33 years, Ali has been involved with hockey in Norfolk, and after representing Norfolk's under-21 team and captaining the Norfolk A team, he is now the youth development officer for Norwich Hockey Club. He also coaches the county under-17 side and is on the County Hockey Association Develop-ment Management Group.

Catton Grove Middle School took the honours in our Sports School of the Year category. Having achieved both the national Healthy Schools Award and the Active Mark this year and the FA Charter Standard School of the Year Award last year, Catton Grove Middle School is proud of

its sporting culture and success. Every child receives two hours of timetabled PE per week, three hours swimming per year and, if after-school clubs are included, many children receive considerably more.

A sport unfamiliar to most people gave us our Inspirational Sportsperson of the Year. Lindsey Tyas competes in carriage driving and has fought all of her life to enjoy the sport she loves.

Lindsey's drive and determination have seen her fight back from a near-fatal car accident at the age of four to helping the British team secure a silver medal at the FEI Para Equestrian World Carriage Driving Championships in September 2006.

She is passionate about her sport and, as well as competing, she is a representative on various committees for drivers with disabilities and a committee member of the education and training committee of the International Federation of Riding for the Disabled.

The Keith Peel Services to Sport Award looks to recognise those people who have given up their time to help the Norfolk sporting community; the unsung heroes of our sporting achievements, the people who deserve a pat on the back, but rarely get it. Keith, who died last year, was a former sports editor of the Eastern Daily Press and a popular and highly regarded figure in Norfolk sport.

Winner of the award was Ben Lovesey, an integral member of Dereham Hockey Club who has been involved in hockey in Norfolk for nine years. He has set up a school-club link with the Taverham High School Sport Partnership, is part of the team that delivers Dereham HC's minis sessions, sits on the Norfolk Hockey Development Management Group and coaches Dereham under-11s and is assistant to the Norfolk under-11s side.

The final award saw all of our finalists compete for the Active Norfolk Winner of Winners accolade - with the hugely successful King's Lynn Stars walking home with the trophy.

Roll of Honour

Sports Personality of the Year

Winner: Mick Gault

Finalists: Jamie Chestney, Jon Thaxton

Team or Club of the Year

Winner: King's Lynn Stars

Finalists: King's Lynn Warriors Swimming Club, Weston Park Tennis Club

Coach of the year

Winner: Ali Wardale

Finalists: Collin Picton, Leigh Sitch

Norwich Union Young Sports Person of the Year

Winner: Rachel Stringer

Finalists: Mitch Goose, Hadley Jones

Sports School of the Year

Winner: Catton Grove Middle School

Finalists: Cliff Park High School, Firside Middle School

Inspirational Sports Person of the Year

Winner: Lindsey Tyas

Finalists: Connie Adam, Bryan Preece

Keith Peel Services to Sport Award

Winner: Ben Lovesey

Finalists: Gillian Skipper, Ali Wardale

Active Norfolk Winner of Winners Award

King's Lynn Stars