Local sporting heroes honoured at Ageas Bowl

Francis Benali (Centre) with the 2015 Eastleigh Sports Award winners

Francis Benali (Centre) with the 2015 Eastleigh Sports Award winners

The ballroom of the Ageas Hilton Hotel was the glittering setting for the annual Eastleigh Sports Awards.

Sponsored by the Ageas Bowl the evening was a great opportunity to celebrate some of Eastleigh Borough’s greatest coaches, athletes, volunteers, teams and clubs – and to recognise their sporting achievements and the huge contribution they make to the community.

The awards evening was organised by Eastleigh’s Sport and Physical Activity Alliance (SPAA) and Lou Gittens, Chair of the Eastleigh SPAA, and ex-Saint Francis Benali, the Alliance’s Official Ambassador officially opened the event.

Former Hampshire cricketer and BBC Radio Solent presenter, Kevan James was compere and guests were also treated to interviews with local Olympic and Paralympic legends Kelly Simm, Peter Hull and Daisy Robinson.

The awards were as follows

Participation Coach of the Year

Hayley Payne, Matthew Marshall and Sunil Bali who were shortlisted for this award. Hayley Payne took the trophy due to her work with Eastleigh running club in 2015. The award was sponsored by Eastleigh Games 2012 Legacy Group.
Performance Coach of the Year

Stuart O’Connor (Boxing), Graham Mabey (Angling) and Darren Flint (Cricket) who were shortlisted for this award.  The winner was Stuart O’Connor for his ground-breaking work with Poseidon Boxing Club.  Sport Hampshire and IoW were the sponsors this award.

Senior Sportsperson of the Year

Emily Hewitt (Canoeing) and Kelly Simm (Gymnastics) were shortlisted for this award. The winner was Kelly Simm for her part in the Great Britain Women’s Artistic Team Bronze at the World Championships in Glasgow, thanks to Eastleigh College for sponsoring this award.

Senior Disability Sportsperson of the Year

David Smith (Boccia) for won this award which was sponsored by Exxon Mobil. David ended 2015 ranked second in the world and Great Britain’s number one. The International Paralympic Committee have named him one of only eight athletes to watch out for at Rio.

Junior Disability Sportsperson of the Year

Liam Hall won the junior title for the second year running due to his continued improvement and the progress he has made in Goalball during 2015. He recently represented Great Britain in a youth tournament in Denmark and another in Birmingham.

Sports Team of the Year

Eastleigh & Winchester District Football Team, Toynbee U13 Girls Rugby Team and Fair Oak Cricket Club 1st XI were all shortlisted for team of the year.

Fair Oak Cricket Club 1st XI won the award following a perfect 20 victories in 20 games for the 2015 season in County Division One and T20 Competition. The award was sponsored by the Hilton at the Ageas.

Junior Sportsman of the Year

Bradley Barrett (Karting), Ethan Smith (Snow Boarding, Cross & Freestyle) and James Weatherill (Indoor Rowing) were all shortlisted for the competitive Junior Sportsman category. Ethan Smith won this award due to his recent snowboarding success. Ethan is the youngest full member of Team GB for Snowboard Cross and the only Team GB dual discipline athlete. Trophyman were the sponsors for this award.

Junior Sportswoman of the Year

Both Grace Griffiths and Holly Powell were shortlisted in the junior sportswoman category.

Grace was crowned winner of this category due to success in multiple athletics and football: she won all three of her events, achieving Championship Best Performance in the 200m at the Hampshire County Championships, and won Gold in the 200m National Finals. She is also ranked 6th in the UK Pentathlon. Local newspaper The Daily Echo were the sponsors.

Junior Volunteer of the Year

Miles Pearce (Judo), Jonno Guy (Football) and Jordan Fugh (Judo) were shortlisted in this category for a range of volunteering achievements over 2015. Jordan Fugh won the title for the commitment and personal dedication he has given to Fleming Park Judo Club during 2015.Sponsors were the Eastleigh Youth & Community Trust.

Senior Volunteer of the Year

This was an incredibly tough category with four brilliant individuals achieving recognition. Dan Rush (Boxing), Chris Fawcett (Canoeing/Kayaking), Stephen Philpott (Canoeing/ Kayaking) and Sandra Coffin (Rugby) were shortlisted for their amazing dedication to sport in Eastleigh Borough.

The winner was Dan Rush for the hundreds of hours he gives to Poseidon Amateur Boxing Club. His performance as an athlete and his contribution to the club is even more impressive given that Dan has cerebral palsy. He is an incredible role model to all the club’s members, and his enthusiasm and drive are infectious. The sponsors were Age Concern.

Outstanding Personal Achievement

Congratulations to Karen Andrews (Athletics) and Russell Hersey (Judo) for being shortlisted for this award. Russell was the winner of this award having recently undergone major heart surgery. He recovered quickly and was soon back on the mat coaching and practicing Judo. In April 2015, Russell successfully achieved his black belt. Places for People, who manage Fleming Park Leisure Centre, for sponsored the award.

Club of the Year

In this highly competitive category Fair Oak Cricket Club, Hedge End Running Club and Southampton Mustangs Baseball Club were all shortlisted. Fair Oak Cricket Club were crowned champions after winning multiple titles, but also for putting on many grass-roots sessions including growing their juniors, women’s and disability development. Thanks to The Ageas Bowl for sponsoring this award.

Service to Sport

The final category of the evening was the prestigious Service to Sport category sponsored by Eastleigh Borough Council in order to recognise those who have committed a minimum of ten years to their chosen sport. All three winners continue to be great inspirations to all those that they continue to mentor.

Gwen Silvester founded Swan Netball Club in 1982. She wanted to start a club for mums with young families and formed a Netball Club based at Crestwood School. More than 30 years on she is still a very active volunteer and a member of the Swan netball family, which boasts 17 teams and over 300 people. Gwen has always been an active volunteer for the club holding various roles.

Keith Richardson established Dynamo School of Gymnastics in 1986 achieving a twinning arrangement with Michael Veronin at the world famous Dynamo Moscow. Coaching at national level and running regional clinics and squads, he produced both male and female Olympians – a unique achievement in a sport demanding separate coaching methods and timescales. Working with the Borough Council Keith has been responsible for providing fantastic facilities that enable local talent to compete at the highest level.

Gordon Kemish started Judo in 1975 and is head coach at Fleming Park Judo, presiding over a team of dedicated coaches, many of them his former students. Gordon has been coaching judo for over 30 years and, despite being at an age when many people are looking forward to putting their feet up, he continues to do so. Under his guidance the club has grown in strength year-on-year and is now one of the biggest in the county with players of all ages and abilities.