It hardly seemed a few weeks ago, rather than almost a full year that the celebrations had ended at the 2019 Blackpool Community Sports Awards when the final touches were being made for the 2020 awards that were once again taking place in the fantastic surroundings of the Blackpool Winter Gardens. With the final candle lit and the last few celebration booklets in place, the worthy nominees were welcomed into the sporting ceremony by members of Active Blackpool and were treated to some musical entertainment that was provided by Daisy Atkinson who performed a set-list that saw many of the award hopefuls joining in with the singing.
After a thoroughly well-deserved round of applause for Daisy Atkinson it was time for returning event compere Hayley Kay to take to the stage to formerly open the 20202 Blackpool Community Sports Awards. Hayley Kick-started the evening by highlighting some of the amazing work carried out by Active Blackpool since the previous awards and sharing some of the exciting new programmes that would be arriving in the town in the coming weeks and months.
Anticipation and excitement levels were growing as the first award of the evening was introduced by Hayley which would see three young sporting achievers being recognised for an amazing year of sport but only one would walk away with the Quayle Trophy. Alice Pumphrey was announced as the winner of the award following a fantastic year of boxing that has seen her go all the way to the selection camp for the national team. After a few words from Alice, Owen Boyes and Jessica Poole were invited to step forward to receive their highly commended awards in recognition of their sporting achievements.
Another hat-trick of young achievers were in the spotlight as it was the turn of the Quayle Shield to take centre stage. A trio of sporting talent in Bonnie Fisher, Gracie Scott and Willow-Blossom Fontalbra-Orwin had their achievements read aloud to all of the nominees which produced a huge cheer as everyone was eager to join together to congratulate all 3 of the nominees. Bonnie Fisher came out on top in the category which was a fitting way to celebrate her awesome year of gymnastics and numerous achievements. Gracie and Willow-Blossom joined Bonnie to receive their highly commended awards after their successes in athletics and football respectively were highlighted.
The evening continued with the Coach of the Year award which saw three very inspirational members of the sporting community recognised for the tireless work they do every week, and in some circumstances, every day. Andy Abrol, Chantelle Altham and Emma Inglis had their stories shared with the room as all three make a significant contribution to providing opportunities for children, young people and adults in Blackpool and helping so many of them to achieve their sporting potential. The award went to Emma Inglis after her involvement with Blackpool Polar Bears was deemed to be not only invaluable but also more than just sport itself as she contributes to the personal lives of the swimmers as well as developing their aquatic ability. Chantelle and Andy were also celebrated for their contribution to school and community sport as they accepted their highly commended awards.
After awards being presented to individuals it was the turn of sporting groups as the Ted Schools Team of the Year Award was next to be presented. A combination of school sport from Highfurlong School along with a men's football and weight loss programme in the form of Blackpool Man V Fat took centre stage for this category to show the range of talented groups we have in Blackpool. A very excited group from Highfurlong raced to the front of the stage as they were announced as the winners of the Team of the Year Award after their achievements in boccia were shared with the audience. Also celebrating, were the players from Blackpool Man V Fat as they proudly stepped forward to pick up their highly commended award.
With community sport replying heavily on the help and support of local volunteers it was time to recognise and celebrate the people who give up their time to help so many people in our town. Gill Woodend, Lewis Gottfreund and Dan Pack made up the finalists for the Adult Volunteer of the Year Award whilst Amelia Shorrock, Jake Moore and Georiga Wearing were all up for the Young Volunteer of the Year Award. All 6 nominees were worthy winners but ultimately the wards went to Lewis Gottfreund and Georgia Wearing for the support they give to football and tennis. Gill, Dan, Amelia and Jake were all invited to take a bow as well as they all received a highly commended awards for their dedication.
The final award of the first half saw the Club of the Year Award being contested and saw futsal and aquatics in the spotlight as FY Futsal and Blackpool Aquatics Amateur Swimming Club were going head to head in the category. Both clubs have had a great year but it was FY Futsal who picked up the Club of the Year Award after bringing the game to the forefront of sport in Blackpool. The coaching team proudly stepped up to receive the award in their suits rather the football kit before heading off for the all-important team photo. Bob Hudson joined the party as he received the highly commended award on behalf of Blackpool Aquatics Amateur Swimming Club.
After a quick stretch and a few celebration photos it was time for the awards action to get back underway as the second half kicked off with the Primary School of the Year Award. Highfurlong School, Park Community Academy and Holy Family Catholic Primary School made up the top three in this category which made judging extremely difficult for the awards panel but the award went to Park Community Academy in the end after their ethos for providing sport for all as well as a host of school sport achievements earned them the award. The achievements of Highfurlong and Holy Family were also recognised as they were presented with their highly commended awards.
The upper end of school life was next on the running order as the Secondary School of the Year Award was up for grabs for three of the town's schools. Blackpool Educational Diversity, Highfurlong School and South Shore Academy were in the spotlight this time as their dedication to students in Key Stages 3 and 4 were highlighted to all. The breadth of talent we have in our secondary schools is immense and shows just how much our teachers care about they young people in Blackpool. Proud teachers from South Shore Academy made their way to the front of the stage to accept the Secondary School of the Year Award after their efforts in and out of the classroom. Highly commended awards were also presented to Blackpool Educational Diversity and Highfurlong School for their continued high standards of work with their students.
The Disability Sports Award saw Owen Boyes and Jake Pasquill being recognised for their achievements in swimming and judo with both of their sporting stories inspiring the whole room. A combination of local, regional, national and international successes were gained from the two nominees which meant this was another very difficult decision for the judges to make. The decision went Owen's way to round off a wonderful year that has recently see him gain his para-swimming qualifications. Jake was also congratulated for his recent British titles as he was presented with his highly commended award.
The penultimate award of the evening was the Lifetime Achievement which celebrate the long-standing unsung heroes of sport in Blackpool. The first nominee was Sharon Todd from Highfurlong School who has not only given her all in Blackpool but also up and down the country as she takes on an ambassadorial role for the Youth Sport Trust in her quest for ensuring that sport is for everyone. Joining Sharon was Ian Cooper from South Shore Youth FC. Ian has been with the club since 1977 and now serves as club president. This was one wards that the judges could not split so both Sharon and Ian received the Lifetime Achievement Award much to the delight of everyone in the room.
The awards came to a close with the Wilkinson Sword which is presented to high level sporting performers across the Fylde Coast. The first finalist in the category was Justine Moore who is an amazing young lady who has found a real love for sport and with her achievements she has become a Paralympic athlete fencer for Team GB. Justine has represented her country all over the world in world cups and was on of the youngest competitors in the London 2012 Paralympics. Joining Justine was Steve Stevens who is a motivated, inspiring and dedicated man who wants to do what is right for his home town. He has put everything into his sport and has worked hard to achieve the goals he set. He represented England in the 2019 Uk's Strongest Man Record Breakers, and then 3 weeks later achieved a world record at Blackpool Tatcon show. The Wilkinson Award was ultimately presented to Justine Moore who received the award from former winner Shelly Woods in a fitting tribute.
As with all awards ceremonies things had to come to an end but not before all of the nominees and winners were congratulated once more by a room full of very proud family, friends and teammates.
Since the 2020 Blackpool Community Sports Awards took place we have all found ourselves in an unprecedented position due to the coronavirus but Active Blackpool remain dedicated to keeping our community physically active through these difficult times. Daily challenges are being set for our children who are in school and at home as we maintain our quest for healthy and happy children in Blackpool. We are not leaving the grown-ups out as we have also created lots of opportunities for adults that can be found on our social media pages.