Olympic Gold Medal long jumper Greg Rutherford MBE was given a special honour at a glittering sports awards night on Friday (December 1).
He took centre stage as nearly 300 people gathered at Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre for the 12th annual Bucks & MK Sport Awards.
The evening is organised to pay tribute to the people and organisations who make grass-roots sport happen in the area.
Last year’s event saw the launch of the Bucks and Milton Keynes Sporting Hall of Fame, an award to celebrate the county’s great elite level athletes. That inaugural honour was won by rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave CBE from Marlow Bottom.
On Friday, Rutherford from Milton Keynes became the second inductee into the hall of fame and was presented with the award by the Lord-Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher.
The 31-year-old athlete, who won long jump glory for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics, told the audience of local sporting heroes and dignitaries of his delight at being only the second person to receive this honour.
He said: “Thank you hugely from the bottom of my heart – it really is a wonderful thing. To only be the second person, as well, is amazing.
“You never expect as a young athlete for things like this to come along.”
Guests at the event clapped and cheered as Greg talked them through his Gold Medal jump – with the help of Leap Director Mark Ormerod who measured out the huge distance in the hall.
Retired British athlete Derek Redmond was keynote speaker. In an inspirational address, the Bletchley-born-and-bred sportsman told how he had battled injury during his star-studded career, in which he represented his country at first athletics and then basketball. He said: “I am quite proud to be someone who was born in Bletchley.
“It’s nice to come back home and celebrate the success of sports in this county.”
He said sport gave him the confidence to try anything and believe he could ‘achieve pretty much anything’. He added: “I am very, very pleased to be here this evening. Call me biased, but I love these sort of ceremonies where you can sit here and honour the people who have deserved to come up here and receive whatever award they have won.”
Roger Fennemore MBE, Chairman of Leap – the County Sport and Activity Partnership which co-ordinated the awards – described the event as the Bucks sporting version of the Oscars.
In his opening speech, he spoke of the impact that sport has on both physical and mental health – and told of its power to create a fitter and healthier nation, battling the growing level of obesity.
Mr Fennemore, who is in his last year as Leap Chairman, also praised the work and success of Leap and said to a round of loud applause: “You do an amazing job, Leap team, thank you very much indeed.”
And the winners were:
Active Workplace of the Year 2017, sponsored by Milton Keynes Council
Buckinghamshire College Group
In the last year, there has been 272% increase in staff participation in physical activities at the college group. Staff have reported that this has given them a greater sense of achievement. This has also made them feel healthier and motivated. What’s more, sickness levels have dropped and staff collaboration has improved.
From football and table tennis, to Pilates and a ‘Take the Stairs’ challenge, everyone has been encouraged to get active. The impact on some individuals has been particularly noticeable. One employee has even enrolled on training to become a fitness instructor.
Taofeek Oyeyemi, Sports Development Officer, said: “It’s an amazing feeling to be recognised and to show the impact that has been made through our work to get staff more active.”
Club of the Year 2017, sponsored by Tim Harman
Olney Rugby Club
The club, with a membership of over 1,000, has had a truly memorable year, on and off the pitch. The first team finished third in its league, the second team won its league and the Colts reached the quarter finals of the National Colts Cup.
In September 2016, Olney RFC were also recognised at the National Rugby Awards where it won the Youth Section of the Year title.
The club are keen to appeal to all members of the community and have set up a ‘Return to Rugby’ training session to target new and returning players. This has attracted parents of the youth team and locals of all ages. A ‘Volunteer of the Month’ scheme highlights all the unsung heroes who contribute to the Club’s success.
Kath Middleditch, publicity officer, said: “It’s amazing to win this in our 140th year and it’s an absolute tribute to the hundreds of volunteers who have helped the club and keep it the success it is.”
Geoff Janes, committee member, is the oldest player at 66. He hopes the award will help bring more players to the club and said: “This is the sort of thing that we dream of.”
Community Coach of the Year 2017, sponsored by Evolve
Herman Fung (Milton Keynes)
The Community Coach Award winner was Herman Fung a badminton coach who has been recognised as an inspiration in the Milton Keynes community. He has coached more than 300 players and creatively develops various approaches to best meet every individual’s needs.
Herman excels in bringing badminton to children and adults with disabilities. He’s worked with WheelPower at the Inter Spinal Unit Games and National Junior Disability Games. He also supports the KidsOut charity, encouraging children with autism and ADHD to play.
Herman has set up four satellite clubs to meet the needs of specific groups in the community. Membership of these clubs is continuously expanding.
Herman said: “For me, this award is very important to confirm my confidence to promote badminton for disabled people and people of all abilities.”
His daughter, Ho-Ting, said: “I am so proud.” Wife Ka-Yee said: “It’s lovely to see this recognition because we know how much hard work he puts in.”
Performance Coach of the Year 2017, sponsored PJ Care Ltd. Specialist Neurological Care.
Kathryn Ratnapala (High Wycombe)
Kathryn Ratnapala has been described as an exceptional netball coach. She brings humour, enthusiasm and energy to every one of her High Wycombe teams. From Under 11s through to elite squads, she delivers focused, quality coaching sessions for every player.
Looking at individual performance, Kat provides written feedback and video analysis to each athlete.
Kat’s success is recognised in the achievements of her teams. She coached the U16-19 side to a National Championship. The Under 13s, Under 14s, Under 16s and Under 19s all qualified for the Junior Regional League. Last year, eight out the twelve teams were crowned Champions in their respective leagues.
Kathryn said: “I am a little bit shocked. I didn’t realise I had been nominated. It’s a magnificent achievement to come here and celebrate what we do. It’s nice to have the award. It means a huge deal.”
Project of the Year 2017, sponsored by Buckinghamshire County Council
Keep Active Keep Well (Milton Keynes)
The Keep Well Keep Active keep Well Programme is specifically designed by the British Lung Foundation to help people manage their breathlessness. A 12-week course provides patients with more information on their condition and a range of suitable activities. Practical activities have included laughing yoga, tai chi, ballroom dancing, circuits, swimming and indoor bowls.
The involvement of students from Milton Keynes College has also been beneficial. The students have gained practical experience, whilst the participants have greater individual support. In this way it has encourage inter-generational interaction.
The collaborative pilot project has been a great example of successful partnership working across the health and social care system. It’s been a collaboration involving MK CCG, Milton Keynes Council, Hertsmere Leisure Trust, Local GPs and Milton Keynes College Leadership Academy. 40 participants have completed the pilot programme and a further 150 will take part in the second phase.
Sandra Vanreyk, commissioning lead for long term conditions at Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group, stressed the importance of helping people with breathlessness get into exercise programmes and supporting them from social isolation. She said: “This award is about the success of collaborative partnerships in Milton Keynes which puts us on the road map nationally.”
The Animalates Primary School of the Year 2017, sponsored by Animalates Physical Literacy
St Michael’s CE Combined School (Stewkley)
Physical activity at St Michael’s plays a big part in pupils’ progress and development. The school has invested in teacher training, sports equipment and external expertise to build the sports offering. It now provides an extensive range of sports for all abilities and interests. There has also been a focus on developing social and cognitive skills alongside physical education. This has resulted in increased participation, growing self-motivation and improved behaviour throughout the school.
In the last year, 70% of pupils at St Michael’s accessed regular extra-curricular activity and 78% of pupils participated in an inter-school competition. St Michael’s School attained the School Games Gold Level for the third year running and has also been presented with the Buckingham Schools ‘School Achiever Award’.
Headteacher Della Peacock said: “We are absolutely delighted. It is fantastic news and very well deserved for the school as a whole. The staff and children are incredibly enthusiastic and incredibly motivated.”
The InnovEd Progress Secondary School of the Year 2017, sponsored by InnovEd Progress
Cressex Community School (High Wycombe)
A number of new initiatives have significantly increased the number of pupils who actively participate in sport at Cressex Community School. For a start, there are now more clubs and competitions on offer. These include cheerleading, dance and taekwondo to attract interest from a broader range of pupils.
Another improvement has been to focus on rewarding those pupils who consistently demonstrate the right attitude to sports lessons. The Achievement Board and Star Pupil Board have had a positive impact on the pupils.
The staff development programme at the school has included trampolining, handball and volleyball coaching courses. As a result, Ultimate Frisbee, team building activities, handball and gymnastics have been introduced into the curriculum.
Cressex School is proud of its strong links with local community clubs, which it signposts talented pupils to. These include High Wycombe Rugby Club, High Wycombe Cricket Club, High Wycombe, Amateur Boxing Club and Phoenix Netball Club.
Garth Taylor, Head of PE, said: “The hard work of the whole department has come together tonight and been rewarded. The students are our number one priority and we always tailor what we do to fit their needs.”
Young Leader of the Year 2017, sponsored by Buckinghamshire College Group
Adam Woodage (Aylesbury Grammar School)
While studying A-Levels at Aylesbury Grammar School, Adam Woodage has shown considerable commitment to both Handball and Football coaching. In school, he participates in the Sports Leader/AGS SSP Programme. His coaching in both school and the community has been logged at over 500 hours in the last year.
Starting with Handball, Adam leads the Under 13 & Under 15 programmes at Oly Cats Handball Club. He also leads several Handball teams at AGS and runs an extra-curricular club at Aylesbury Vale Academy. His teams have seen many successes. Most notably, Oly Cats Under 15’s Handball team won the 2017 South East Regional Championship.
In football, Adam runs Goalkeeper Training at AGS and coaches a local football club at the weekend. He has achieved the FA Level 2 Coaching Award, Level 1 GK badge and Talent ID Level 1 badge. He is also actively supporting the growth of the Just4Keepers coaching franchise within Bucks. On top of all this, he has written a book ‘The Anatomy of a Goal Keeper’.
Adam, 18, said: “It feels excellent and really rewarding and humbling to feel that the work over a long period of time has been recognised. I do my absolute best to go to 100 percent capacity. I try to push myself outside my comfort zone and bite off more than I can chew – and chew it very quickly!”
Volunteer of the Year 2017, sponsored by BP Collins LLP
Georgie Camfield (Wingrave Netball Club)
Georgie Camfield is Chair of Wingrave Netball club. She’s also premier player in the Club’s STARs team and an inspiration to all members.
Her strong organisational and leadership skills have developed a small village club into one of the most successful netball clubs in the county. In 2016, they were awarded North Bucks Golden Globe Outstanding Netball Club of the Year. They have also gained England Netball’s Silver CAPS accreditation.
Georgie has set up a number of initiatives, including Back to Netball and Walking Netball for the older generation. By forging links with local schools, she has made Wingrave Netball Club attractive to younger players. She’s also introduced mixed team and FastNET sessions to encourage men to join the club.
As the club celebrates 20 years, membership is at an all-time high and Wingrave has five teams in the Aylesbury League.
She said: “We have a great support team with lots of volunteers, not just me. We have a big group of people who donate their time, and everyone is so enthusiastic. The biggest thing for me is seeing more people come in and fall in love with the sport, whether they are five or 70 years-old.”
Terry Cook Unsung Hero of the Year 2017, sponsored by Stoke Mandeville Stadium powered by 1Life
Martyn Cartwright (Chiltern Harriers)
Martyn Cartwright is the Junior Athletes Coordinator, and a dedicated coach, at Chiltern Harriers AC. He also acts as an official, sits on various athletic committees and helps to run Chiltern District school competitions.
Martyn also organises the club’s annual Pednor 5 Walk, an event attracting race walkers from across the country. Until recently, he also managed the Senior Women’s track and field team.
Through his 30-year commitment to Chiltern Harriers, Martyn has coached hundreds of junior and senior athletes. With his support, many juniors have gone on to represent Great Britain in international competitions. At 75 years old, he continues to compete for the club in cross-country and track & field events.