Shropshire’s sporting stars, and the volunteers who help to keep the county’s grass-roots clubs thriving, were honoured at a glittering prize-giving ceremony.
Telford’s Mickey Bushell, who struck gold in the Paralympics 100m wheelchair sprint, was last night named Sports Person of the Year at the sixth annual Energize Awards.
He received his trophy in front of a 200-strong crowd at Shrewsbury Town’s Greenhous Meadow stadium, which included fellow Shropshire Olympians, archer Alison Williamson and judo star Kelly Edwards.
Former world, European and Commonwealth swimming champion Mark Foster was the guest speaker at the awards, serving up a mix of sporting and Strictly Come Dancing anecdotes in an entertaining after-dinner speech.
Alan Ashfield, head coach at Telford Ski Club for nearly 40 years, received The William Penny Brookes trophy for outstanding contribution to the local sporting scene. In the 1980s, the entire England alpine ski team were members of the club at one point, under Alan’s watchful eye.
In the 1990s, the club was represented at the Winter Olympics by two athletes he helped to train. And today he still travels twice a week from his home in Leicestershire to nurture the stars of tomorrow.
Other Telford-based winners included Melanie Humphreys, head coach at Wrekin College Triathlon Club, who was Coach of the Year, and the Telford Titans ice hockey club which was Adult Team of the Year.
The Junior Team of the Year trophy went to Telford Raiders rugby league club, who capped a brilliant year by winning the North West Counties Development Cup for the first time, ahead of other more established rivals from the rugby league heartlands.
Iain Howard, from Shrewsbury, was named Newcomer of the Year. This time last year he wasn't involved in local sport at all, but is now not only heavily involved in cricket coaching he is also active on the basketball scene.
Several of Shropshire’s Olympic and Paralympic stars were at the event, including archer Alison Williamson and judo star Kelly Edwards. Telford’s wheelchair sprint gold medallist Mickey Bushell was named Sports Person of the Year, and Ben Rowlings from Newport, one of the country’s top wheelchair racers, was crowned Young Sports Person of the year.
The Volunteer of the Year trophy went to Zoe Griffiths, a familiar face at Bridgnorth Town football club since 2003, devoting many hours a week to the club. And Ted Dolphin from Cleobury Mortimer was named Young Volunteer. Ultimate Fitness Experience, based near Church Stretton, won the Innovative Community Project trophy for the way it uses the Shropshire countryside to promote outdoor-based fitness programmes.
The Community Club award went to Shropshire Paddlesport, based at Queens Head, near Oswestry, promoting canoeing and other water sports to people aged from five to 67. And two organisations – Telford Disability Games, and the Oswestry Olympic Games – were rewarded for their work promoting healthy lifestyles.
RAF Shawbury, which has invested heavily in community sports facilities, was Employer of the Year.
The awards were organised by the Energize county sports partnership, in association with the Shropshire Star. The Star’s assistant editor Carl Jones was master of ceremonies.
Energize chairman Steve Peters said: “At grassroots level, we rely heavily on the community clubs, coaches and volunteers that work tirelessly to not only nurture the next generation of sports stars, but make physical activity more accessible for everyone.
"Our finalists this year represent a small sample of the excellence we have in the county, delivering sport at all levels.”
And the winners are. . .
Outstanding Achievement: Alan Ashfield, Telford Ski Club.
Sports Person: Mickey Bushell, Telford.
Young Sports Person: Ben Rowlings, Newport.
Coach: Melanie Humphreys, Wrekin College.
Volunteer: Zoe Griffiths, Bridgnorth Town FC.
Young Volunteer: Ted Dolphin, Cleobury Mortimer.
Adult Team: Telford Titans ice hockey.
Community Club: Shropshire Paddlesport, Queens Head.
Young Team: Telford Raiders rugby league.
Innovative Community Project: Ultimate Fitness Experience, Marshbrook.
Employer: RAF Shawbury.
Newcomer: Iain Howard, Shrewsbury.
2012 Legacy Healthy Lifestyle: Oswestry Olympics, and Telford Disability Games.