Three-times Olympic javelin medallist Steve Backley presented the prizes on the night to the people and clubs who work hard promoting and encouraging sport in the town.
Steve Backley, who has an OBE and MBE, said: “It’s an honour to be here in Burnley, just speaking to people I can feel the passion they have for their sport and their work.”
The Club of the Year award was presented to Burnley Athletic Club, which caters for age seven and upwards as well as having a thriving Masters section, and they also work closely with primary and secondary schools.
Chairperson Heather Scott said: “We were shocked to win, we have entered the category three times and this is our first win so it’s amazing.
“We have grown significantly since the 2012 Olympics and the initiatives which were implemented then as well as seeing more people signing up over the last 12 months.”
Dragons Kickboxing Club and Sandygate Amateur Boxing Club were nominated.
Volunteer of the Year went to Ajay Robbie Lord, a sports activity leader on the Active Streets Project.
Ajay recognises the struggles young people face and helps to break down barriers and increase engagement.
“I was really nervous and it was brilliant to win. I don’t do it for rewards but it’s nice to be recognised,” said Ajay.
Football coach Darren Sturrock and Couch to 5k volunteer Lorraine Asbery were nominated.
Community Project of the Year was presented to the Junior Parkrun, which takes place over 2k every Sunday.
Junior Parkrun Event Co-Ordinator Heather Scott celebrated her second award of the night.
“It’s a double whammy, winning two awards. I am thrilled, I am up every Sunday at 8am for the Junior Parkrun but it’s great to see the event go from strength to strength.”
Couch to 5k and Burnley Rugby Club were also nominated.
Kickboxer Alyssa Bristow collected the Young Achiever Award.
Alyssa, 16, has been a star since taking up kickboxing with Dragons Kickboxing Club, being crowned WKO Double World Champion as well as WKO and WKU British Champion, three times WKO English Champion and more.
“It’s an honour to win,” said Alyssa, who hopes to compete abroad for the first time later this year.
Maisie Paige-Baker, also of Dragons Kickboxing Club, was runner-up. She said the sport had helped her grow in confidence.
The coveted Coach of the Year award was presented to Simon Finnan of Burnley Rugby Club, for his enthusiasm for developing the game of rugby and bringing it to everyone.
“I got goosebumps,” said Simon. “I love what I do and this is just an added bonus. Steve Backley talked about winning his silver Olympic medal in Australia in 2000 – I was there at the time so I told him about that!”
Also nominated with Andy Kelly from Padiham Juniors Football Club and Jason Bell of Burnley Rugby Club Girls.
Primary School of the Year went to St James Lanehead C of E Primary School with Head Teacher Michelle Stott saying: “Sport is central to what we do and we encourage everyone to participate and we celebrate success. We are passionate about it.”
Padiham Green C of E Primary School and Holly Grove Primary School were also nominated.
Girls Up and Active won the Services to Under Represented Groups Award and Andrea Pilling, who was there from the outset of the project in October 2015 which ran until December 2018, said: “It’s nice for the team to be rewarded. I co-ordinated the project at first and it was great to see females who found it difficult before getting involved in all kinds of sport.
“We have sustained it as a legacy of the project.”
Ann Marie Lambert, involved in promoting sessions to women and children in hockey, ladies football, rounders and more, was also nominated.
Finally, Elaine Shallcross won the Lifetime Achievement Award – but couldn’t be there as she was competing in Germany.
Elaine has been involved in sports and sports development for more than 40 years, including cricket, badminton, swimming and more recently, the new sport Pickleball.
Burnley Athletic Club’s Michael Linaker and local football enthusiast John Pilling were also nominated.
|Words: Dany Robson |Photos: Andy Ford