Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Thurrock’s Jazz scoops Active Essex award

LAST night (Wednesday 2 December) a host of local sporting heroes were celebrated at the Active Essex Sports Awards 2015 and announced live on BBC Essex.

Hundreds of guests attended the awards at the Weston Homes Community Stadium in Colchester on Wednesday, which were streamed live on Active Essex’s website and broadcast live on BBC Essex.

The annual awards recognise the contributions made to sport and physical activity in Essex, from volunteers, clubs, coaches, schools and organisations, to high performing athletes.

Chairman of Active Essex, Gary Sullivan OBE said: “Our awards celebrate outstanding contributions to sport and physical activity in Greater Essex. It was fantastic to see some of the most talented, dedicated and inspirational sports people in our county represented at the ceremony.”

Cabinet member with responsibility for Sport and Physical Activity, Cllr Ray Gooding said: “The Active Essex Sports Awards are a great platform to promote community sport and physical activity in Essex, illustrated by our inspirational winners and finalists represented. Congratulations to all.”

The crowed celebrated Max Whitlock, Pommel Horse World Champion as he joined the stage to talk about his journey to success and future aspirations. Max Whitlock is the only British male to have ever won a World Championship Gold Medal in the Pommel Horse.

Team GB Sailor, Saskia Clark, from West Mersea, won the Sports Personality of the Year award following some exceptional achievements on the water. Saskia and helm Hannah Mills won silver at the World Championships, in Hafia, Israel and struck gold at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi ahead of the Austrian world champions. The duo claimed silver in the Olympic Test Event in Rio and, following on from this, they have been named in the Team GB squad for next year’s Olympics.

Another winner from Colchester was Colchester Rugby Club who took Community Club of the Year award. Colchester Rugby Club runs one of the largest rugby youth sections in the UK and it is estimated that 700 to 750 youngsters are involved on a regular basis. The club’s philosophy is not to win matches at all costs, but to provide rugby for all, to develop the skills of all players, and to ensure that they can enjoy rugby at their own standard.

Colchester born swimmer Laura Stephens won Young Sports Personality of the Year award following a string of successes. Laura’s hard work and commitment shone through, as she was selected to compete for Great Britain at the World Junior Championships, in Singapore, where she made the semi-finals of the 100 metres butterfly, putting her in the Top 20 juniors in the world at her distance. Laura has been included as a Podium Potential athlete on British Swimming’s World Class Performance Programme, for the 2015/16 season. She is one of 45 swimmers to be included on the programme, which supports athletes believed to have a greater chance of medalling for Great Britain at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Daniel McGauley, a 25 year old power lifter with Down’s syndrome and autism, from Colchester won Disabled Sports Personality of the Year. Daniel has only been powerlifting for 18 months but has already won several prestigious events including silver at the Special Olympics Powerlifting event and gold at the Special Olympics Discovery Games in Dundee. Daniel was unable to attend the awards evening as he was completing at the Commonwealth Powerlifting and Bench Press Championships in Vancouver where he won gold.

Julie Belemore, head coach from Chelmsford Gymnastics Club won the Coach of the Year award. Since moving the club to its own premises Julie has bought in over 1,000 members of the local community to participate every week and is constantly looking at ways to improve the standard of gymnastics in Chelmsford. Julie is not only a coach but a key volunteer in the sport helping the club, community, athletes and volunteers to realise their true potential.

The Young Volunteer award went to Jazz Smith, from William Edwards School in Thurrock for her work acting as a coach to the schools under 13 girls tournament run by Essex County Cricket Board and similar contribution to her club side, Orsett Cricket Club. Jazz has used her skills to encourage both boys and girls from year 8 and 9 to attend after school clubs, playing cricket together, which has consequently led to the girl’s rapid improvement and increased participation of cricket amongst young people. To highlight her skills and incredible enthusiasm, Jazz recently won the Participant of the Year award at the prestigious 2015 Chance to Shine National Awards.

Physical Activity Project of the Year goes to Brentwood Barbell Girls. Popularity for the ladies lift class grew rapidly and the class has helped many women to not only learn about strength training, but also improved their confidence and general wellbeing. The class is open to all women regardless of age or ability and members are now competing professionally, one member qualified for the World Championship and they are having the time of their lives!

This is the second year that Brentwood Leisure Trust has won the Services to Disability award. The Fitness in Mind initiative has been successful at delivering pioneering therapeutic physical exercise for individuals with mental health issues. They also promote in houses courses with staff such as Mental Health First Aid and Disability Awareness Training. Recently with help from Essex County Council they have purchased 12 Sport Wheelchairs to keep on site for both people with disabilities and able bodied members to use as part of their ‘Do it in a chair’ inclusive sports programme. They have also been successful working with Active Essex to access some further Sport England funding to grow their projects and improve facilities at the Brentwood Centre.

An additional award this year ‘Services to Sport 2015’ went to Jim Messenger, someone who had shown huge commitment and dedication to coaching the woman’s American Football team. With over 25 years of experience coaching as a volunteer he recently took the sport from a 3-team university endeavour to a 20 team national programme involving over 400 players. Jim led the Great British Women’s American Football to second place in their first ever European Championship and has recently received recognition from Chancellor George Osborne who made him the UK’s 380th Point of Light an award that recognises outstanding UK volunteers – those making a change in their community.

Trailnet in Brentwood won Changing Lives through Sport and Physical Activity award. The cycle training and encouragement Trailnet has provided to participants has taken them from a small club of mainly over 50s cycling just a few miles to lots of riders now cycling hundreds of miles. They offer special lessons to schools and provide all inclusive rides for people who have severe and enduring mental health issues. They have not only taught people to cycle they have built people’s confidence and improved their overall wellbeing.

Unsung hero was won by Lenna Rayner from Braintree, Lenna has supported her local bowls club for over 43 year. She first formed a ‘Ladies Section’ of the ‘Men Only’ bowls club in 1972, a ‘Ladies Triple League’ in 1990 and has served as Ladies Captain, Secretary and President several times over as well as raising vital funds for the purchase of much needed equipment. At 92, Lenna is still an integral part of the club, she still takes the minutes of the club’s meetings and can always be seen on the Ladies “Special Days” selling raffle tickets, without her the Club would not be the success it is today.

Friars Primary School and Nursery from Southend-on-Sea won School or College of the Year. Friars Primary School and Nursery have fully embedded sport and physical activity into their ethos and it is an integral part of lift at the school. The school aims to have everyone taking part in physical activities outside of the required PE lesson and had 161 of a possible 202 children take part in extracurricular sport last year. Key achievements this year include: winners of the Community Day football tournament, winners of basketball at Shoebury High Tournament and 3 female pupils were selected through the school to join the Southend Diving Club and are about to take part in their first national competition.

Following on from the success of winning the Active Workplace award last year, Visteon, an automotive engineering company based in Springfield, Chelmsford, won again this year. Visteon continue to offer a range of onsite classes and initiatives for staff to improve their fitness. Staff are encouraged to record their exercise on the Active Essex Workplace challenge system, which contributes to increasing physical activity in the workplace. They continue to be a great advocate for Workplace activity in Essex.


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