STUDENTS who have attracted the admiration of their teachers and peers for their sporting prowess have been recognised at an annual awards dinner.
This year marked the inaugural presentation of the Sports Personality of the Year at Bede Academy, in Blyth, when the students themselves had the chance to vote for their favourite from a shortlist of six.
The winner was Luc Parsons, with runners-up Cory Hart and Abigail Herron, who joined a parade of other awardees across the sports offered at the academy, including athletics, tennis, basketball, cricket, rounders, netball, hockey, football and rugby.
The most prestigious award of the night – the Stannard Award, named after Blyth’s only recipient of the Victoria Cross – went to Matthew Jefferson.
Principal Gwyneth Evans said: “Matthew has been a real asset to the PE department over the last five years. He is a pleasant and unassuming young man who has really immersed himself in the sporting life of the academy both as a performer and a helper.
“His character and attitude set him apart and he always responds positively to any challenges he faces. He is an excellent role model for other students and a great ambassador of the academy.”
The students were treated to a dinner and were inspired by a world champion guest speaker Nicola Minichiello, who, in 2009, became the first female bobsleigh driver to win gold in a world championships. She also competed in three Winter Olympics.
Nicola, who, with her husband Toni coached Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill during her early years in athletics, began her career as an athlete but despite going on to represent her school, the county and eventually Great Britain, she admits she was never the most talented.
“At school, I wanted to be good at something. I was desperate to show I could do it and make people proud of me. When I first competed for the school I finished last, but I had achieved my goal.
“Sport taught me if you keep working you can achieve things. The only time you fail is when you stop trying,” she said.
The invitation to join the British bobsleigh team came out of the blue. “It was six weeks before the Winter Olympics. I had half a day to make the craziest decision of my life and to go half way across the world for a sport I had never heard of with people I had never met, but it just seemed like the next thing to do.”
She added: “Sport has taken me on the biggest rollercoaster in the world. It has changed my life, not just for the titles and medals, but for the journey it’s taken me on.”
Director of sport at Bede Academy Simon McAree said the sports dinner reflected another action-packed year, highlights of which included the Year 9 girls’ hockey team winning the county league and the Year 9 boys winning both fixtures on a tour to Holland.
Year 6 – sportsman of the year, Mason Taylor; sportswoman of the year, Katie Fell; footballers of the year, Olivia Stewart and Jack Barker.
Athletics awards – Ethan Irving, Stewart Besford, Alexis Waite, Ellie Morris, Adam Swalwell, Taylor Glover.
Basketballer of the year: Thomas Snaith.
Tennis players of the year: Oliver Lorraine, Rachel Bate.
Cricketer of the year: Greg Thompson.
Rounders players of the year: Elisha Pittam, Phoebe Harrison, Annie Raine, Abby Cooke.
Netball players of the year: Evie Charlton, Kelly Derbyshire, Eva Wellington, Katelyn Wilshire, Grace Brown, Holly Robinson, Olivia Barker, Kiera Raine, Olivia Edwards, Ellie Burt, Chloe Todd.
Hockey players of the year: Luke Parker, Jasmine Moody, Bridget Wood, Jayci Barclay, Emily Foster, Ellie O’Brien, Emily Rose, Jessica Bate, Hollie Hart, Lauren Gannie, Brooke McGowan, Kennedie Elliott.
Rugby players of the year: Felix Halsius, Grace Hammond, Mason Saunderson, Samuel Bussey, Finlay Scott, Alex Robinson, Coby Allen, Ben Anderson, Andrew Thornton, Tyler Frost, Liam Hayes, Luke Short.