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Virtual awards salute sporting stars of 2020

Posted onPosted on 10th Dec

Sporting stars from across the area were celebrated at the annual Mansfield Sports Recognition Awards.

The awards, which have continued thanks to the work of the Armchair Club, were held online for the first time because of coronavirus restrictions.

It was a good night in particular for Mansfield Harriers Athletic Club — as it celebrates a full return to Berry Hill Park ­— 776 Gymnastic Academies and the sport of ice skating.

Mansfield ice skater Rebecca Gillespie was named Sportsperson of the Year.

The figure skater ended 2019 with a top four place at the British Championships and during a difficult 2020 was placed on the national development team by British Ice Skating.

She is now landing triple combination jumps in practice and has also started work on the triple axle jump, which has never been landed by a British woman.

Rebecca was invited to open the World Junior Synchronised Skating Championships 2020 in Nottingham and during lockdown has helped other young skaters, including with training at Berry Hill Park, Mansfield.

After hearing of her win at the awards on Zoom, Rebecca, who trains at the Lammas Leisure Centre rink in Sutton as well as in Nottingham and Sheffield, said: “Thank you so much, wow I can’t believe it. It means so much. In my whole skating career I have not had anything like this. It means a lot.

“I won the British Championships when I was 14 and this is a similar, wonderful feeling.

“2021 has been a tough time for everybody with eight or nine months of no ice time.”

Fellow ice skater Callum Mills was named Disabled was named Disabled Sportsperson of the Year.

He won gold at the British Championships for free skating, free dance and pairs and repeated his success at the Scottish Championships.

Callum, who also trains at the Lammas rink, revealed at the awards that he has been selected to represent Team GB at the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2022 in Russia.

Mansfield Harriers’ Lauren McNeil was named Junior Sportsman of the Year.

She ran for England Under-20s in January and was placed third, despite being three years younger than most of her rivals, and has been invited on to the UK talented athletes scheme.

Harriers’ chairman and coach Pat Carlan was named Volunteer of the Year and coach Richard Massey won the Roger Copestake Mayor’s Special Achievement Award.

Richard’s virtual training sessions during coronavirus lockdown that developed into including international athletes were highlighted by the judges.

To complete the Harriers’ success at the awards, it also scooped the Club of the Year accolade while the Under-11 Girls’ Cross-Country Team — Amelia Arbon, Lily Mason, Florence Kenney, Maisy Slack and Charley Whysall — was named Team of the Year after winning all its six Notts Mini League matches and won the Nottinghamshire County Championships.

The Coach of the Year Award went to Jessica Walters, head coach at 776 Gymnastic Academies, while the academies’ Nations Team was named Junior Team of the Year.

School Games organiser Nicki Biggs praised the Armchair Club for ‘saving’ the awards and celebrating sport at a time when many areas had cancelled their awards nights for 2020.

The Armchair Club is a group of local businessmen that has been backing local sports clubs and individuals for many years. Now it has taken over the organisation of the awards, which this year were supported by Mansfield District Leisure Trust and the Mansfield, Ashfield and Warsop News Journal.

Nicki revealed that the winner of the Junior Sports Leader of the Year Award was Becky Cartwright.

A surprise award was made to Bill Taylor, who is retiring from the Armchair Club after more than 30 years’ service. He was made a patron of the organisation.
Sally Callaghan-Wetton, from Fidler & Pepper Lawyers, one of the sponsors, said: “It was a great event and it was really good to see these things still going ahead even when it’s a challenging time. People do need something positive to focus on.”

Peter Herniman, of sponsors Pinders Opticians, added: “What a brilliant night at the sports awards. It was a great job via Zoom.”