GUEST speaker Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE heaped praise on the 16th annual Herefordshire & Worcestershire Sports Awards which once again celebrated all that is great about community sport.
Thursday’s glittering event at Worcester Warriors’ Sixways home was attended by more than 250 amateur and professional sports people, businesses and dignitaries.
Hereford FC, with 30 per cent of the vote, won the headline Sports Personality of the Year award, sponsored by Bullivant Media – publisher of the Observer – following the Bulls’ second successive promotion.
Others in contention for the top award, voted on by members of the public, were Bromsgrove Sporting FC, Worcestershire CCC star Daryl Mitchell, Worcester Warriors’ Jonny Arr who is in his testimonial season, Malvern cyclist Evie Richards and Droitwich RFC.
Kate, who was capped a record 375 times for her country before retiring from international hockey after captaining the Great Britain women’s hockey team to gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, said: “This was a truly inspirational evening.
Having retired from international hockey, I am determined to turn my experience towards coaching and encouraging the grassroots development of hockey.
“I am heartened to see the passion for sport that exists within Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
“Organisers Herefordshire and Worcestershire Sports Partnership are doing incredible things. Congratulations to all the winners!”
Stephen Brewster, chief executive officer of the Sports Partnership, said: “This has been our most successful awards to date. We received hundreds of nominations and 2,641 members of the public voted for the Sports Personality of the Year award.
“I am always so inspired by the commitment of the athletes to their sport but also to the coaches and volunteers who give up their time to support the growth and development of local talent.”
Other winners included Aspiring Talent Award victor Lucy Walton who is a multi-sport star, playing both hockey and golf at an international level after recovering from two operations.
In golf, the 17-year-old has won countywide championships, broken course records, captains the county junior team and improved her handicap, all in one season.
More recently, at an international competition, she came sixth, competing against golfers from around the world, and qualified for the national grand final.
Lucy was selected to compete for the England Schools’ golf team, as well as the England Blue U17 hockey team at the Home Nations tournament.
She represented Mercia at England Hockey’s Futures Cup, whilst also playing and training for Stourport Hockey Club in the National League.
Young Volunteer of the Year was Jacob Ottley of Redditch Entaco Cricket Club, who has been producing some of the best home wickets the Kingfishers have played on for many years.
He has become an integral part of the groundstaff, dedicating more than 100 hours to Redditch Cricket Club in the past year alone. Jacob also went and took the Association of Groundsmen course last winter.
Another accolade which headed to north Worcestershire was Community Project of the Year which went to Bromsgrove Walking Hockey.
See this week’s paper for a full list of the winners.