Award winner Christine is the pride of the Dales

Christine Howard, Derbyshire Dales Sportsperson of the Year 2011.
Christine Howard, Derbyshire Dales Sportsperson of the Year 2011.

DUATHLETE Christine Howard is the pride of the Derbyshire Dales after being named Sportsperson of the Year in the district council’s sports awards.

The Team GB athlete from Darley Dale picked up the accolade at the Derbyshire Dales District Council Sports Awards, held at Matlock Town Hall last week.

It was a great night for athletes throughout the Dales, with group successes for Wirksworth & Middleton Cricket Club, among others.

Matlock kickboxer Emma Erskine was named Junior Sportswoman of the Year and Christine Howard beat off the challenge of training partner Diane Lee to take the senior award after excelling in the past year as a duathlete.

In September, she represented Team GB and entered the World Duathlon Championships, finishing fastest female in the 40–45 age group.

A month later, Christine entered the Snowdon Marathon, and set a course record of 3 hrs 5 min, while in March, she won the National Duathlon Championships 40–45 female category and was named sportswoman of the year at the inaugural Matlock Mercury Sports Awards in June.

Acting Chairman of Derbyshire Dales District Council’s community and environment committee, Cllr Steve Bull, said: “Everyone here tonight is a winner and a credit to the Derbyshire Dales, where we continue to promote active and healthy communities as this is what local people tell us they want. It’s appropriate that this year’s Sports Awards come in the same week that our new £12m Arc Leisure Matlock is officially opened by Sebastian Coe as a centre that mixes sporting participation for all with excellence.”

Awards were presented by the chairman of the district of the Derbyshire Dales, Cllr Judith Twigg.

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The Club of the Year title went to Wirksworth & Middleton Cricket Club, which has raised over £250,000 towards the extension and renovation of its pavilion to provide excellent new facilities for the club and the local community. Much of the work has been organised by volunteers.

Last year the first XI and second XI teams won promotion and the club also introduced a Sunday team in 2011 to provide more opportunities for senior players to enjoy playing cricket and for the Under 15s and Under 17s to gain experience of adult cricket. Other successes include being U13 Girls’ National Champions in the ECB Lady Taverners Club Competition

Emma Erskine, who lives in Matlock and trains at Jesters Mixed Martial Arts Club in Dale Road, where she is coached by Mark Ball, took the Junior Sportswoman of the Year award. Emma has been beaten only twice in the last 12 months and is considered to be possibly the top performer in the country for her age and weight. This week she has been selected to represent England in the World Championships in Germany next week.

Tansley woman Judith Holt was named Veteran Sportsperson of the Year for her work with Derwent Valley Orienteers and after enjoying success at district, national and international level in the past year. In May she competed in the British Championships and British Relay Championships as part of the Derwent Valley team, taking second place both times.

Judith is currently working with the District Council to provide permanent orienteering courses in the three parks it operates - Ashbourne and Bakewell Recreation Grounds and Matlock’s Hall Leys Park.

Highfields School in Matlock had a great night. Student Joshua Haynes, a Regatta Team GB member and current Derbyshire Youth Sailing County Intermediate Champion, took the Junior Sportsman of the Year title, while Maisie Packard and Sam Mak were named Young Sports Leaders of the Year.