Local stars and Games heroes are honoured
Olympic gold medallist Ed McKeever added another accolade to his collection when the Bath Chronicle staged its inaugural Sports Awards ceremony.
The Bradford on Avon canoeist, who triumphed in the K1 200m class at London 2012, was crowned Sports Personality of the Year in front of a 190-strong audience at a wet and windy Bath Racecourse last Thursday night.
McKeever came out on top after being shortlisted alongside swimmers Stephanie Millward and Michael Jamieson, who also returned from the capital with medals during the summer.
"It's a huge honour," said Bath-born McKeever after collecting his prize from Simon Knighton, chairman of awards title sponsor Sirona Care & Health. "It's great to be appreciated here, where I grew up.
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"There was huge competition for the award, with Steph winning five medals at the Games and Michael taking silver.
"It just shows the level of talent there is in the area and there is a lot more coming through, which will make it a lot more difficult to win this again in future! It's been a really good night."
Millward, who bagged four silvers and a bronze at the Aquatics Centre during the Paralympics, did not go home empty-handed as she collected the Chew Valley Laser Clinic-backed Disability Sports Person of the Year prize.
She said: "I didn't expect to win the award at all. You hope you are going to but I came here not really expecting anything, so to go back with another medal is brilliant. This is the 371st medal of my career so I am quite proud.
"Every single person who was nominated was incredible, everyone should have won really. Just think of all the work they do every day, most of them without any payment – they just do it because this is what they love, this is what makes them feel happy."
Fellow swimmer Siobhan-Marie O'Connor, who represented TeamGB at the tender age of 16 at the Games, was named Young Sports Personality of the Year. She was doing battle in the pool at the European Championships in France on awards night, so will be presented with her prize – sponsored by Polamco – at a special ceremony arranged by her club, Keynsham, this weekend.
She tweeted: "Thank you so much for making me young sportsperson of the year. So gutted I wasn't able to attend!"
A fourth person's London 2012 work was also rewarded, with ParalympicsGB chief executive Tim Hollingsworth taking the Outstanding Services to Sport in Bath prize, sponsored by SouthGate Bath.
The Larkhall resident played a key role in helping London stage the most successful Paralympics ever, with the Great Britain team – the majority of whom warmed up for the Games in Bath – claiming a record 120 medals, 34 of them gold, in the process.
Hollingsworth said: "Many thanks to you all for a very good night and a really important statement of commitment to sport in Bath – much appreciated. I am delighted to win and very pleased for such high recognition of the Paralympics."
A strong shortlist also featured three stalwarts of the local sporting community in Keynsham Swimming Club's Bet Parsons, Walcot RFC treasurer Simon Chambers and Oldfield chairman Patrick Bunton.
The awards, hosted by BBC Radio Bristol drivetime presenter and former Bristol Rovers footballer Geoff Twentyman, pictured right, saw grassroots sport's unsung heroes celebrated in five other categories.
Two rugby clubs, Avon and Walcot, were victorious. Avon collected the Senior Club of the Year award thanks to a league and cup double triumph in the spring, with a rejuvenated Walcot landing the Knight Frank-backed junior prize.
Avon chairman John Sutherland, who was joined by around 40 of his club-mates on the night, said: "I'm just very, very proud of the lads. We have got a good spirit. The boys worked hard, played hard and have really deserved it."
Walcot youth coordinator Dave Parsons added: "I am just really pleased for the club and those who put the time and effort in.
"It's hard work but hopefully all of the parents, kids and volunteers will be chuffed that all of the support they are giving the club is paying off."
Keynsham Swimming Club, shortlisted in four of the nine categories, provided a second winner in the shape of secretary Dave Beament.
He scooped the Club Official of the Year award and said: "I'm delighted. It has been fantastic to be able to support all of the children over many years and help them achieve their potential.
"We're delighted for all of the nominees and particularly proud of Siobhan and Bet Parsons, who holds the club together.
"We are very proud of what we do. We are all volunteers and our coaches in particular give up hundreds of hours of their time every year – it is an amazing set-up."
Colin Baross was named Coach of the Year thanks to his tireless voluntary work with sprint and hurdles athletes of all ages and abilities at the University of Bath.
"I'm thrilled," said Baross. "I don't turn anybody away – it is sport for all. I can't wait to get to the club night, show the athletes my award and say 'I won a medal for a change, instead of you guys'."
Brendan Rouse was unveiled as the Sports Teacher of the Year, a category jointly sponsored by Take Charge Bikes, Sony Centre and The Old Mill Hotel.
He said: "This award was a great way to mark my tenth year of being a primary PE specialist. Thank-you to St John's Catholic Primary, St Mark's, Swainswick Primary and the School Sports Partnership, who have enabled me to make my passion for teaching and promoting physical activity a full-time job."