Norwich sport aces gather for awards

This year's Norwich Sports Awards at City Hall recognised all that is best about grass-roots sport.

The Norwich City Council-organised event highlighted some inspirational stories from up-and-coming sports stars of the future to the Coach of the Year and those who have devoted many years of time and effort to sport.

Both individuals and teams were honoured for their dedication within their chosen sporting fields in a number of categories – with the EDP's sister paper, the Evening News sponsoring the Volunteer of the Year award.

The assembled guests were welcomed by Laurie Hull, director of Active Norfolk, and the awards were presented by the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor Jenny Lay.

Martine Holden, leisure and sports development manager for the city council, acknowledged the latest roll call of award winners deserved their special night.

She said: 'Every year we are overwhelmed by the quality of the responses we get. This year was no exception which always makes it very difficult to choose the winners.

'We're very fortunate in Norwich to have lots of strong clubs with talented athletes and countless people who contribute so much to the sport they love.'

Most Read


• Team of the Year

CNS Under-15s rugby team experienced great success this season. After the disappointment of not reaching the County Plate final last year they have shown great grit and determination to reach the semi-finals of the county competition when they lost a hard-fought game to Wymondham College.

The boys again had an excellent run in the county sevens' tournament with some great wins but again lost in the semi-finals to Gresham's. The goal for the team next year is to win the County Cup.

• Club of the Year

Norwich parkrun is a community-owned club with four race directors (Gary Penn, Richard Polly, Nick Clarke and Carla Potter) and run by over 70 volunteers. The club is a free weekly 5km event for runners of all standards, which takes place every Saturday morning in Eaton Park, Norwich.

The race is a 5km timed event which offers an opportunity for all the local community, male or female, young or old, to come together on a regular basis.

The club attracts an average of 250 runners a week and already 2,255 runners have registered with the club within its first year. It is not just a running event but many of the runners meet before and after the run to swap stories about their day.

• Volunteer of the Year ( sponsored by the Evening News)

Mark Bateman first got involved with the UEA City of Norwich swimming club in 2001 when his daughter was having lessons. In 2005, he qualified as a timekeeper and offered his time to officiate at galas. He later became the club liaison officer and representative at Norfolk County ASA and was club secretary for four years before being elected as chairman in 2010.

As club-chair, he is responsible for supporting a large, dedicated team of volunteers and staff who deliver swimming lessons to more than a 1,000 children in the Norwich area.

The club is one of the largest independently-managed ones in the country and along with the club committee, Mark is also responsible for the coaching team who train the large squad who compete at all levels from local to international levels.

• Sports School of the Year

Avenue Junior School has had a long tradition of established sports and contesting local competitions.

Physical education has become a key area for development in the school's development plan –implementing more specialist teaching alongside class teachers to ensure progression, attainment and individually planned lessons.

The school currently offers athletics, cross-country, korfball, football, tennis, table tennis and a range of dance clubs. New sports have also been introduced into the curriculum with opportunities to compete and the school has also increased access to the opportunities on offer through the Norwich School Sports Partnership. Youngsters also now have increased opportunities to get involved in offsite festivals, events and competitions with other schools. Last year only 20 per cent of the children had this chance, which has now grown to 75 per cent.

With more than 400 children attending the school, it is fantastic to see that more than 300 have had extra opportunities this year.

• Young Achievers

Dan Chambers started cycle speedway in 2000 when he joined his local team, Hethersett Hawks. In 2003 he top-scored for his team in the British U10 club championships before being part of a team that won the U13 title a year later.

The same team won the U16 team in 2007 and 2008. Dan has since competed at European championship level in July 2010 when he reached the quarter-finals and also gained a silver medal in the European Junior Cup of Nations.

In Spring 2011 he won bronze at the world cycle speedway championships in America, a silver medal in the world junior pairs championships and a gold medal in the world team championships and world cup gold.

Dan's latest acheivement is a call up for Great Britain junior team to race in a Test serie against Poland in August.

Will Smith is a young athlete who started wheelchair racing in 2007. The 11-year-old is very grateful to the charity 'Kids Get Going' who helped him to compete by providing two new racing chairs.

Will is also coached by Jenny Archer who works with current Paralympic and world champion David Weir. Will represented Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the world junior championships in Dubai in April 2011 where he won four gold medals (100m, 200m, 400m and 800m) and one silver medal (1500m).

Dedicated Will has never allowed his disability to get in the way of his passion for sport and is now concentrating improving his times and hoping for a chance to be considered for London 2012.

• Adult Achiever

Dany Jordan started Shotokan karate when he was 10 after being inspired by watching Bruce Lee films. Within three years he had progressed through 10 gradings from white belt to brown double white belt and achieved a record 19 distinction passes - currently the highest in the Eastern Shotokan Karate Association's 15-year history.

A year later Danny obtained his black belt and in 2005 obtained his second Danny black belt. In 2010 he received his third dan black belt, aged only 21. Danny has also achieved ten first-place finishes both individually and in team contests at a national level. Danny has also represented his country four times since been called up in his teens and is now a full-time senior instructor.

Danny, in this citation, requested we mention this award is not just for him but for all of the volunteers who have worked so hard at each session, helping the club grow from strength to strength.

• Contribution to Disability Sport

Nick Clarke has set up, run and developed the Norfolk and Norwich Goalball team. Goalball is a Paralympic sport played by visually impaired or blind people. After training as an instructor in 2006 he decided to set up a club in Norwich with the support from his family and Norwich council.

Nick works tirelessly to find funding and opportunities for players to develop their skill and along with a core team of six volunteer coaches helped the club to attend three national competitions.

Last year, one player was selected for the Women's GB training squad.

• Inspirational Sports Person

Tim Gregory founded the Norwich Flyers BMX club in 1983 and was instrumental in lobbying for and developing the BMX facility at Sloughbottom Park. Since then he has raced BMXs across the country and Europe, representing both Norwich and Great Britain.

In December 2009, he was diagnosed with a rare lung disease and was told he would need a lung and heart transplant and had lost much of his lung function.

Less than a year on, Tim has managed to get 70 per cent of his lung function back through training indoors on a turbo-trainer and is now out riding three to four days a week. He has also taken up swimming and running and is committed to running a half-marathon in 2012. Tim is described as an inspirational person, admired by friends and club-mates alike for his sheer determination, willpower and inability to recognise the word 'can't'.

• Service to Sport

Gillian Holman has taught PE in Norwich secondary schools since 1958. She retired as head of girls' PE at Notre Dame High School in August 2000.

During her time as a teacher, Gillian has been a role model to thousands of students encouraging them to participate in various sports clubs and teams. During her time as a player, she represented Norfolk in both badminton and netball for two decades and still plays tennis and badminton to a good standard at the age of 72.

Since retiring, Gillian continues to devote time and energy in coaching and running netball, tennis and badminton clubs on a purely voluntary basis.

• Coach of the Year

Louise Bush is a competitive swimmer as well as a coach with the City of Norwich swimming club. She first got involved in teaching swimming at the age of 15 and started volunteering as a teaching assistant with the club at her school.

Louise studied hard to gain relevant qualifications and is currently working as a teacher on the Learn to Swim programme and last year had the opportunity to become a junior development coach.

Louise has worked steadily with a very determined young disabled swimmer, Bethany Dyke to help her achieve national and British championship times.

She is recognised as a talented and inspirational young coach by the ASA disability coaching team and the duo were recently invited to be part of the East Region national team in Sheffield.

Louise aims to help children reach their full potential and build on their confidence so they can truly believe in themselves.

• The Norman Centre Award

Martine Rodwell started her career as a professional dancer before moving on to become an instructor. In 1996 she started teaching dance classes to primary school children and in 2004 decided to work towards gaining an aerobics instructor qualification.

Once qualified, Martine began her career in aerobics at the Norman Centre where she teached numerous classes each week. In 2009 she gained her gym instructor qualification and is now studying to become a personal trainer and nutritionist.

Many of Martine's students have managed to achieve great weight losses through her motivation and guidance.

• Young Community Volunteer

George Harmer first embarked on volunteering in 2006 for Norwich City Council's sports development team.

The 19-year-old has been involved in a range of sports development tasks from helping to issue the council's 'Go-4-less' cards at Kidzones events to facilitating disability multi-sports days and assisting coaching.

George has just completed his first year at the University of Sheffield studying for a degree in Sports and Community Development. He hopes to start his career as a sports community officer for either a council or his much-loved football club, Norwich City.

Geroge was unable to attend as he was participating in his second year of 'Camp America' in North Carolina, teaching sports and drama to young children.

• Lifetime Commitment to Sport Award

Roy Blower is well recognised for his decades of public service in the city.

He became the youngest city magistrate at the age of 28 in 1972 and was chosen as Lord Mayor of Norwich in 2007.

He has also been a passionate supporter of Norwich City football club for more than six decades, an associate director of the club and the founding member, former chairman and now life president of the Norwich City Independent Supporters' Association.

Roy has also held seniors roles in a number of sporting institutions in the city. Roy is very passionate about the city's sporting facilities and was an active member of the fund-raising committee which raised �10,000 to ensure Earlham Spinney pool was saved from closure.