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A spotlight on sport in Waltham Forest

Walthamstow Assembly Hall was filled with scores of smiling sportspeople earlier this month, when Waltham Forest Council hosted its annual Sports Awards.

A celebration of sport across the borough, the event recognised the achievements of local athletes, players, teams, clubs, coaches and volunteers who have excelled in their chosen sport.

The dedicated and talented nominees gathered together under one roof on Thursday 12 November – following a process which involved residents nominating their favourite or most inspirational sporting hero.

Winners, who were chosen by a panel of judges, took home an engraved glass trophy, while everyone who took part received a certificate acknowledging their success.

Helping present the awards was sprinter Bianca Williams, who won Bronze for England in both the 200m and in the 4x100m relay at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. She also won bronze in the 4x100m event at the IAAF World Relays this year.

Cllr Ahsan Khan, the Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “The awards shone a spotlight on many wonderful sporting success stories and all of the winners and nominees deserve huge congratulations for what they’ve achieved.

“We continue to invest in sports and leisure opportunities in Waltham Forest because we want as many people as possible – regardless of age or ability – to lead active, healthy and happy lives.

“Whether it’s working out in one of our beautiful parks, targeting trophies with a local sports club, or simply trying out a new exercise or sporting activity for the first time, I would encourage anyone to find out what’s on offer in the borough.”

For more information about sports clubs in the borough, visit or follow the Council on Twitter @wfcouncil.

Notes to editors

The award winners were:

  • Junior Team of the Year U11 – Hillyfield Primary Academy Girls U11 cricket team

  • Junior Team of the Year U18 – Norlington School for Boys U15 cricket team

  • Sports Person of the Year U16 – Gabriel Clarke and Eleanor Jennings

  • Young Sports Leader/Volunteer of the Year U16 – Leah Coutts

  • Outstanding London Youth Games Team Contribution, sponsored by AFLS&P – Waltham Forest Regatta Team

  • Outstanding London Youth Games Individual Contribution – Charlie Dearman

  • Volunteer of the Year – Paul Burke

  • Sports Person of the Year – Ryan Nicholls

  • Inclusive Sports Award, sponsored by GLL – Motivate East

  • Physical Activity and Health Project – Our Parks

  • Adult Team of the Year, sponsored by ISG – Waltham Forest Hockey Club Men’s 3s

  • Coach of the Year – Trevor East

  • Our Parks Coach of the Year – Kieon Fred

  • Club of the Year – Phoenix Flames Netball Club

  • Outstanding Services to Sport, sponsored by Gristwood & Toms – Jeffrey Clarke

Quotes from the Waltham Forest Sports Awards 2015 winners:

Born Barikor, CEO and Founder of Our Parks which won the Physical Activity & Health Project Award, said:

“Out of all we have achieved within the past 18 months, being recognised for the service provided in our founding borough tops it all. Waltham Forest is the beating heart of the Our Parks programme and our service excellence was developed by continually listening to our Parkers. As a result, we are developing some of the best coaches in the country and created a model that is helping communities across London and soon to be the UK. Thank you Waltham Forest.”

Karate student Eleanor Jennings, who shared the Sports Person of The Year under 16 Award with Gabriel Clarke, said: 

“I was really surprised and excited when I heard my name announced. I was really nervous about having to go up on stage but was super pleased that Gabi, who also goes to Leytonstone School, was up there too. I really look up to Gabi and felt honoured to be standing next to her.

“If I ever get an award or win a competition it inspires me to keep going – but losing drives me as well. I will continue to train hard as it makes me happy and makes me feel good if I’m ever worried about homework or other things. I’m currently training and looking forward to the National, European and World Championships – and I’m looking forward to testing for my 2nd Dan at some point. I also enjoy assisting my instructor, teaching others, and watching little ones grow.”

Trevor East, Eton Manor Athletics Club coach and recipient of the Coach of the year Award, said: 

“As the list of names was being read out, it was plain to see that so many other coaches had been nominated for their hard work and commitment by their respective clubs. I genuinely believed that I had no chance of winning, so was in total shock when my name was announced. I am immensely proud of winning the award. I don't think the people who nominated me will really understand what this accolade means to me.

“I've been coaching sport for 25 years, but only really coaching running and athletics for Eton Manor AC over the past five. I'm keen to learn more about the sport and like every other coach continue to help each athlete achieve their best.”

The Club of the Year Award went to Phoenix Flames Netball Club. Coach Ria Mills said: 

“After applauding and cheering loudly all evening we sat in shocked silence before someone said ‘it's you, get up’. We made our way up with ridiculous grins on our faces, incredulous that we, Phoenix Flames, had won something even though we are relatively small and unknown in comparison to the big clubs nominated.

“We started out as five on a wet Monday evening with makeshift floodlights and now have five teams competing in leagues with players from the age of six up to 60. The awards top off what has been a great year for Phoenix Flames, but this is just the beginning. So regardless of age and ability, come join us on our journey, we guarantee fun along the way. We try to recruit everyone – even the Mayor whilst on stage having our photo taken.

“Big thanks to Rush Croft, Sean Reed and especially Chris Hodge – without their support and funding we would never have made it. And to the players and supporters – 'cos without them what is the point.”

Ryan Nicholls, who was named Sports Person of the Year, said: 

“I was chuffed to win the Sports Person of the Year Award for the 2nd year in a row! I’d like to thank Waltham Forest’s sport development team for the support they give me. I would also like to thank my family and coaches for their continual support, enabling me to train to the level I need too.

“My ambition is to qualify for Rio and to compete for GB in the Paralympic Games in the 100 backstroke. I’m hard in training at present and have a lot to do before April 2016, when I hope to make the qualifying time.”

Waltham Forest Hockey Club Men’s 3s picked up the Adult Team of the Year Award. Club Captain Paul Matthews said: 

“We were proud and honoured to have been chosen over such other worthy nominee's. It was a complete shock and we could not believe we had won.

“Our future goals are to slowly move the youth players through the ranks and to bring new youngster into the team whilst still playing at a competitive level.”

Kieon Fred, who won the Our Parks Coach of the Year Award, said: 

“During the run up to the awards I felt proud to be a part of Our Parks and was elated that we were able to be part of the 2015 Waltham Forest Sports Awards. Although I had been informed of my nomination I hadn't pinned my hopes on winning as I knew I was up against two strong competitors.

“When the nominees were called the three of us stood and awaited the result. My name was called. I was ecstatic! For a moment I was in shock, but soon recovered as I went up on stage to collect my award. I was proud of myself but also proud of the recognition Our Parks was receiving after just eighteen months in operation.

“I will continue to work hard putting Our Parks on the map and encouraging wellbeing in our communities. Being part of Our Parks has encouraged me to take part in more sporting events, this year it was a couple of half marathons and a tough mudder challenge. Next year I'd like to tackle a full marathon and maybe even an ultimate warrior challenge.”

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