Community sporting heroes and heroines were celebrated in style at Sandy Park on Friday 22nd June at the 21st Devon Sports Awards. Stars from the sporting, entertainment and culinary world came together to pay tribute and thank those that enable thousands of people in Devon to be active and enjoy sport at a grass-roots level.
The glittering celebration evening was the culmination of a six month nomination and shortlisting process organised by a partnership of the Exeter Foundation, Active Devon and Exeter College.
BBC Spotlight’s Jenny Walrond led proceedings on the night with special guest star, triple round the world sailor Conrad Humpreys, inspiring and enthralling the assembled guests and sponsors with humorous and insightful tales from the high seas. He also shared his memories of the special coaches along the way who enabled him to pursue his passion for sailing.
There were a very high number of nominations this year with coaches, clubs and sportspeople in the running from a wide range of sports from swimming and surf lifesaving to football and athletics. The independent judging panel had the unenviable task of whittling down all the nominations to the final 25 who were drawn from a wide range of local sporting organisations.
Many sporting stars young and old were recognised for their individual achievements in the Performances in Community Sports category. Buckland Athletic Ladies FC, Cameron Williams from Dartmoor Darts Aquatic Club and Ethan Kirby from Newton Abbot Athletics Club were the first to receive recognition for their outstanding achievements within their own sports. The assembled guests were then treated to videos summarising the achievements of a second group of sporting stars, Jack Willis, Teignmouth Surf Lifesaving Club, Lauren Dolan from Mid Devon Cycling Club for her achievements in cycling and Robin Delve also from Mid Devon Cycling Club for his exceptional season in cyclo-cross.
The accolade of Devon Young Coach of the Year was awarded to Nathaniel Rookes from Tavistock Swimming Club whilst the Devon Coach of the Year was awarded to Mike Beagley from Falcons Gymnastics Club.
Three exceptional clubs were in the running for Devon Club of the Year; Freemoovement, an Exeter based community fitness group, Barnstaple Ability FC for the way they use football to tackle wider social problems and Storm Running for their friendly and welcoming approach to runners of all ages and abilities with the judges finally awarding the winners trophy to Storm Running.
The winner of Contribution to Inclusive Sport was the Wave Project for the inspiring work they do using surfing as a tool to overcome barriers. Devon Young Volunteer of the
Year was awarded to Paul Corbiere from the Lodge Action Sports Club in Teignbridge for helping out in virtually all aspects of the the Club’s operation to help it run so successfully. Sean Philpot, from the Apollo Sports Club Torbay was the deserving winner of the Devon Volunteer of the Year for his inspirational approach to getting so many people into shape through Circuit Training & Football.
The final two categories are still relatively new the Devon Sports Awards and reflected the growing role that workplaces play in getting staff and the community fit and active. Business Contribution to Sport in the Community was won by Bright Solicitors from Plymouth who run a variety of fundraising events to support local charities and sporting groups in their area. The winner of Business Contribution to Staff Well Being through Sporting Activity was announced as The Environment Agency’s Exeter Office for setting up an activity infrastructure for its staff that is so successful it is now being replicated across the rest of the offices nationally.
The final and most prestigious award of the evening is always the one for Outstanding Contribution to Sport in Devon. The recipient of this award is chosen from amongst all the category winners and celebrates a finalist that has genuinely stood out from the crowd by going above and beyond normal expectations. The trophy was awarded for the very first time to a Club, Storm Running, who demonstrate a highly inclusive culture ensuring that everyone feels confident to try running no matter what their age or ability.
The full list of winners on the night were:
Performance in Community Sport
- Buckland Athletic Ladies FC (sport Football) – Teignbridge
- Cameron Williams, Dartmoor Darts Aquatic (sport Swimming) – Plymouth
- Ethan Kirby, Newton Abbot Athletics Club (sport Athletics) – Teignbridge
- Jack Willis, Teignmouth Surf Lifesaving Club (sport Surf Lifesaving) – Teignbridge
- Lauren Dolan, Mid Devon Cycling Club (sport Cycling) – Teignbridge
- Robin Delve, Mid Devon Cycling Club (sport Cyclo-cross) – Exeter
Devon Young Coach of the Year
Nathaniel Rookes, Tavistock Swimming Club (sport swimming) – West Devon
Devon Coach of the Year
Mike Beagley, Falcons Gymnastics (sport Gymnastics) – North Devon
Devon Young Volunteer of the Year
Paul Corbiere, The Lodge Action Sports Club (sport Skateboarding) – Teignbridge
Devon Volunteer of the Year
Sean Philpot, Apollo Sports Club (Circuit Training & Football) – Torbay
Contribution to Inclusive Sport
The Wave Project (sport Surfing) – Plymouth
Business Contribution to Sport in the Community
Bright Solicitors (sport Various) – Plymouth
Business Contribution to Staff Well Being through Sporting Activity
The Environment Agency (sport Various) – Exeter
Devon Club of the Year
Storm Running (Running) – Plymouth
Outstanding Contribution to Sport in Devon
Storm Running (Running) – Plymouth