HUNDREDS of the two counties’ sporting stars, family and friends gathered at Sixways to celebrate the superb achievements of young and old at the 2015 Herefordshire & Worcestershire Sports Awards.
Award winners at the home of Worcester Warriors ranged in age from six to 91 on what was a fabulous occasion and saw Worcester City Football Club’s Sean Geddes crowned the Sports Personality of the Year following a headline-making 2014/15 season.
The midfielder’s spectacular strikes in the FA Cup and FA Trophy helped his club to national recognition, with the most memorable moment being Geddes’ double strike in his side’s 2-1 FA Cup first round victory over 1987 winners Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena.
This headline award was sponsored by Bullivant Media – publisher of the Observer – and group sports editor Liam Moakes was there to hand Geddes his accolade to cap an entertaining evening.
Thirteen other awards were handed out as a sporting year to savour across Herefordshire and Worcestershire was celebrated in the company of Olympic silver medallist and Commonwealth Games and European and World Championships gold medallist Gail Emms MBE.
The British badminton legend gave a fascinating talk which outlined how dedication, patience, loyalty and commitment, as well as her natural talent, played a huge part in helping her achieve such success.
She said: “I have had a fantastic time at the Sports Awards, it has been a truly inspirational evening.
“It’s so important to have events like this to celebrate the success and hard work of inspirational people because they are the people who get up every morning and help someone get better, help someone learn a new sport and really recognise their passion.
“Without these people British sport wouldn’t exist. Congratulations to all the winners and congratulations to all the nominees, they all did themselves extremely proud.”
The awards are special as they celebrate and recognise the triumphs – often in adversity – of many teams and individuals, which was highlighted perfectly by Homeless Rugby, Worcester Warriors YMCA winning the Community Project of the Year accolade.
Warriors YMCA is a team made up of residents from the YMCA, sheltered housing and hostels.
Being part of the team has allowed the residents to develop their life skills through playing rugby and their teamwork, communication skills and respect for themselves and others has improved hugely.
Of the group of 18 attendees, 11 have now moved out of the YMCA, six are now in employment and two are enrolled at college, whilst one of the players has stopped taking drugs and been clean for 18 months.
The youngest winner was six-year-old golfer Louis Rickett, who plays at The Vale Golf & Country Club in Bishampton, who won the BBC Newcomer of the Year Award.
This award recognises individuals who have achieved incredible success in the first 12 months of participating, coaching or volunteering in their chosen sport and Louis was presented with his award by Gail Emms.
At such a tender age, Louis has already represented the UK at the IMG Golf World Championships which took place earlier this year in San Diego, America. Louis played a year above himself and finished 22nd overall.
Also this year Louis has played at St Andrews (the home of golf), in national competitions and won European Junior Tour events, whilst he has also qualified for the European Championships for 2016.
It is this success which has seen Louis selected for the Worcestershire under 12s squad, in which he will play against children twice his age.
Louis practices most days at The Vale and attends Harvington First School where he balances school work with countless hours of practice each week.
Ryan Dix, head professional at The Vale, said: “Louis’ hard work is why he has done so well. He has just achieved his handicap of 36 and and is shooting scores in the low 50s off the red tees on our courses.”
Harry Thompson, assistant professional at The Vale, added: “We are all so proud of Louis for winning this award. He has had a fantastic first year and we are hoping his success in the sport continues for a long time to come.”
At the other end of the age scale, 91-year-old Alec Davies was named Unsung Hero for 2015.
Alec has been an integral member of Worcester St Johns Cycling Club for the past 50 years and officiated at every cycling event the club has put on, both club and open (national).
He has been with the club through the highs and lows including in 1975 when the Worcestershire Cycling Association was disbanded – suggesting a general decline of interest in cycling – but hard work by Alec and the enthusiasm of new members brought about a regeneration.
Since the early 1980s until 2000, Alec was the club timekeeper for its time trial series which runs every Tuesday evening from April to September.
Since 2000, Alec has been the assistant timekeeper and now at the age of 91 still performs his duties every Tuesday without fail.
Alec has also acted as a Drugs in Sport tester for British Cycling for a number of years and travelled all over the country in doing so.
As you can see, the sporting scene in Herefordshire and Worcestershire is in safe hands.