The awards, celebrating the county’s sporting achievements in 2017, were set up by the Swindon Advertiser, Gazette & Herald and Wiltshire Times in conjunction with Wiltshire & Swindon Sport (WASP), and also featured a popular guest appearance from Dennis Taylor, the 1985 world snooker champion. BBC Wiltshire radio presenter Shaun Hodgetts was the evening’s compere.
Wiltshire Sports Man of the Year
TROWBRIDGE high jumper Tom Gale and Swindon netballer Shona O’Dwyer claimed the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year prizes at the Wiltshire Sports Awards in Devizes. Gale, who turned 19 last month, was named on England’s team for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia after what was a stellar 12 months. Ranked second in the world U20 rankings, 13th in the global senior rankings and second in the UK, Gale won a European Junior bronze medal last year and was also England senior champion outdoors, as well as England U20 champion both indoors and out. He also lifted the England Schools title and was joint-captain of the Wiltshire team at the championships in Birmingham. Having only started jumping four years ago, with a personal best of 2.30m, he recorded the second highest jump ever by a British U20 athlete. Placed third in the Birmingham Diamond League, he was invited to the Diamond League final in Zurich where he placed eighth. Gale, currently competing on the indoor circuit in Europe, was unable to pick up his award in person, with Team Bath athletics coach Di Viles collecting the prize on his behalf.
Picture: Di Viles collecting award for Tom Gale who couldn't be at the awards evening as he was competing.
Wiltshire Sports Women of the Year
Swindon’s O’Dwyer, who is 20 this month, became the first player from Wiltshire to earn a place with a Netball Superleague franchise when she was added to the Team Bath squad as a training partner in 2017. She also struck gold at international level in June. After being invited to attend an England U21 trials day in Derby and being named as a reserve for the team to play at Netball Europe in Aberdeen, she got a surprise call from head coach Kat Ratnapala to join the squad. The former Lydiard Park Academy pupil traveled up with the team to Scotland and played centre and wing attack during a tournament as England completed a clean sweep of victories over Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to secure victory. O’Dwyer started her netball career at Croft at the age of 13 before joining Gloucester-based Hucclecote in the National Premier Division Two.
Picture: Shona O'Dwyer with Sponsor Miles windows Systems
Para Sportsperson of the Year
Chippenham cyclist Lauren Booth picked up the Para Sportsperson of the Year accolade, sponsored by Imagine Cruising, ahead of fellow finalists Polly Maton, the para world championship silver medal-winning athlete from Urchfont and gymnast Teigan Higgs, from the Chippenham Moonraker club. Sixteen-year-old Booth stormed to two national titles and broke five national records at the British Cycling National Track Championships in Manchester last January. The Sportsman and Sportswoman awards were sponsored by Reuben Digital and Jazzbones Creative and Miles Window Systems respectively, Gale edging out Derry Hill’s European Tour golfer Jordan Smith and Bradford on Avon Canoe Club ace Callum Gingell to the male award. Leaving even Paralympic Games medallists in her wake, she won both the C1-5 time trial and flying 200m events, holding off the challenge of four-time Paralympic gold medal-winner Jody Cundy in the former. The Abbeyfield School pupil, who contracted bacterial meningitis as a baby and now has hearing loss in one ear and cerebral palsy, represents Wales and trains at the Newport Velodrome. She also took part in road racing with Great Britain’s para-cycling team in Belgium this year and since May, when she moved categories while para status was being reviewed, competed with able-bodied athletes achieving top-10 finishes and a victory. Part of the Great Britain Cycling Team Para-cycling Programme for 2017, Booth hopes to compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Picture: Lauren Booth was unable to be at the Awards Ceremony as she was competing so Wilthisre and Swindon Sport (WASP) Board Member Chris McCormack received the award on her behalf from award sponsor Imagine Cruising.
Junior Sportsperson of the Year
Swindon motorcyclist Max Cook was named Junior Sportsperson of the Year, sponsored by Places for People Leisure. Cook was dominant in the 2017 British Superbike (BSB) Moto3 standard class Championship, winning 15 out of 22 races and sewing up the British Championship with four races to go. He also wrapped up the Cool-FAB British Junior Supermoto Championship this year. Cook was invited to join the Red Bull Rookies Championship next year, widely recognised as the first step towards MotoGP. One of 10 chosen riders and the only one from Britain, Wilson Racing rider Cook, aged 14, was also been invited to ride in the Dorna-endorsed British Talent Cup this year, another feeder championship to world level. Cook edged out fellow finalists including all-round sportsman George Lewis, of Goatacre Cricket Club and FC Chippenham and Jessica Daykin, of Melksham’s Wiltshire School of Gymnastics, to win the award.
Picture: Max Cook with award Sponsor Places for People Leisure.
Manager/Coach of the Year
Swindon Robins speedway chief Alun Rossiter claimed the Manager/Coach of the Year prize, sponsored by Swindon’s Bus Company, ahead of Cherie Skeats of Swindon’s Esprit Gymnastics club and Liam Lathbury, head coach at Chippenham’s Emeralds Boxing Club. The glorious charge of his side in the SGB Premiership in 2017 came against the odds and all predictions. Written off as no-hopers and even likely relegation candidates, not least after two opening defeats, Rossiter instead moulded his unit into a formidable outfit, a record-breaking run of 17 successive league victories between the start of June and the end of August taking them top of the table heading into the end-of-season play-offs. The Robins defeated old rivals Poole home and away in the play-off semi finals before shrugging off a first-leg loss to reigning champions Wolverhampton to win the second leg – and the title.
Picture: Alun Rossiter with award Sponsors Swindon's Bus Company
Team of the Year
Westbury Ladies rugby team were popular winners of the Team of the Year award, sponsored by MANS Location Services, as they edged out Goatacre Cricket Club and Swindon St George rugby league team to the prize. The ladies ended the 2016-17 Women’s National Challenge South West North Two season unbeaten, rounding off their season in style as a 56-7 away victory over Gordano ensured they finished three points clear of Devizes at the summit.
Picture: Westbury Ladies team players
Junior Team of the Year
The Junior Team of the Year award, sponsored by Platinum Motor Group, was won by Wrag Barn Golf Club’s junior section, ahead of Warminster RFC Pink Panthers and @sheldonschool U13 boys handball team. Wrag Barn enjoyed an unprecedented season on the county scene, winning all five Wiltshire team honours on offer in 2017. Captained by Lewis Ward, they were crowned Wiltshire champions after pipping High Post to top spot following victories over their nearest rivals, Cumberwell Park, Broome Manor and North Wilts. The win qualified them for the South West final at Minchinhampton, which they won by 13 shots. They began their stellar season with victory in May’s Wiltshire Junior Team Shield event at Cumberwell Park and went on to add the Ridgeway League (three-a-side) title, the Junior Finals Day Shield and the Wiltshire Junior Knockout to their collection.
Picture: Wrag Barn Junior Team
Club of the Year
Picture: Ramsbury School with award Sponsor Kingstons Estate agents
The Community Award, sponsored by Bowman House Business Centre, was won by Sam Bullas, of @SwinWildcats in the Community, with Natasha Chesterman collecting the award on his behalf.
Picture: Natasha Chesterman on behalf of Sam Bullas with Steve Boocock CEO of Wilthisre and Swindon Sport (WASP)
Volunteer of the Year
The Volunteer of the Year award, sponsored by Nu Image, was claimed by Lee Bowen, of Sanford Link Table Tennis and the Wiltshire Table Tennis Association, with the Unsung Hero prize going to Vince Marriott, of Trowbridge Basketball League, who was also handed a Special Achievement award by sponsored Imagine Cruising.
Picture: Lee Bowen with Dennis Taylor
Unsung Hero and Special Achievement Award
Vince Marriott was the winner of both the Unsung Hero and Special Achievement Awards. Vince is revered at Trowbridge Basketball Club for his contribution to the sport, both in the town and county as a whole. After founding the club and running youth sessions, Marriott has dedicated countless hours to any talented youngsters who are willing to improve. He also coaches the Bristol Flyers U12 team – a breeding ground for BBL stars of the future. Marriott has organised many events for charity, including the Matt Bromley Award at the SGS Wise Campus in Bristol and a hoops for Haiti event that raised funds for those affected by the earthquake. He created the Trowbridge Basketball League in 2017 and, even in his absence due to ill health and undergoing heart surgery over the past year, remains an inspiration to all who have worked with him.
The other finalists in the unsung hero section were: Di Viles has played an integral role at Team Bath Athletics Club since 1974 and, as she enters her 70th year, is more important to its members than ever. Also Wiltshire Judo Association chairman Philip Mayberry has been involved with the sport for 41 years, spending the past 22 in his current role and leading the county team to many team titles during a dozen served as its coach.
Picture: Vince Marriott with his two awards
Wiltshire Sports Awards winners at the ceremony at Devizes' Corn Exchange on 26th January. Picture: Clare Green (www.claregreenphotography.com)