Olympic trap clay target shooter Caroline Povey took the top honour as the Derbyshire Dales celebrated an astonishing range of sporting talent on Monday night.
Caroline, from Tansley, who won the British Championships this year and is ranked number one in England, was crowned 2013 Sportsperson of the Year at the Derbyshire Dales District Council presentation event at Matlock Town Football Club, beating Matlock’s European kickboxing champion Emma Erskine into second place.
The daughter of Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Joe Neville, Caroline said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to win this award. Despite my family background, shooting is a sport I didn’t take up until I was about 20. Now it takes me all over the world and I am so grateful to the many people who support me.”
Also in the room were dozens of other Dales athletes competing at the very highest level across the globe in world championships, rubbing shoulders with unsung heroes who support grassroots sport and help their local clubs and teams to thrive.
The District Council organises the Sports Awards annually, and this year attracted sponsorship from local companies to offset costs.
Making the presentations was the Chairman of the District Council’s Community Committee Councillor Jennifer Bower, who said: “Tonight was an amazing event that showcased the incredible talent, motivation, determination and commitment of people who live here in the Derbyshire Dales. It was humbling to hear so many fabulous stories about people involved in sport in our communities.”
One of the biggest cheers of the night went to Matlock Bath athlete Cathy Booth, who took the Derbyshire Dales Disabled Sportsperson of the Year title. Inspired by the London Paralympic Games, Cathy has progressed in just 11 months from attending a cerebral palsy sport taster day to competing in national championships and winning two silver medals in discus and javelin.
Said Cathy: “I always knew I was a good thrower, but, for whatever reason, I was never really encouraged at school. What has happened to me since November last year shows what can be done and I am more determined than ever to prove that disability is no barrier to sporting achievement.”
Darley Dale Cricket Club, in its 150th anniversary year, picked up the Club of the Year award thanks to its excellent work with juniors and links with eight local schools. The club’s stalwart player and committee member Simon Cotterill was honoured as one of four Unsung Heroes and junior coordinator Stuart Rudkin shared the Volunteer Coach of the Year award with Rob Wilson of Darley Dale Juniors FC and Mike Harwood, chair of youth cricket at Wirksworth & Middleton CC.
Other Unsung Heroes were Wirksworth & Middleton Cricket Club chairman Sue Marshall, Steve Drury, who has recreated a cricket ground at his Stoke Hall home near Grindleford, and Ashbourne Rugby Club president David ‘Sam’ Heath, who is also a driving force behind the success of Mugginton Cricket Club.
The Team of the Year title went to Darley Dale Girls’ U13 football team, unbeaten in their first ever season and winners of the Derbyshire Girls’ & Ladies’ League and the Derbyshire Challenge Cup, scoring 124 goals and conceding only four.
Ashbourne Tennis Club picked up the Community Sports Project of the Year after increasing its membership by 250% in a single year thanks to a fabulous new floodlit courts complex opened earlier this year near Osmaston.
Schawn Monterio was voted Young Sports Leader of the Year for his work with Matlock Swimming Club, while the Veteran Sportsperson of the Year award went to World Championships triathlete Nicola Dick, from Arbor Low near Monyash, who beat 79-year-old Matlock orienteer David Parkin into second place.
Optimist dinghy class sailor Joshua Haynes, 14, from Matlock, took the Junior Sportsman of the Year title after competing in his first World Championships and retaining the title of overall champion of the Derbyshire Youth Sailing Series for a second year.
The Junior Sportswoman of the Year title went to British Champion wrestler Katy Colebourne, a student at Wirksworth’s Anthony Gell School and member of Middleton Wrestling Club, who has her sights set on the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
In an audience of more than 100 athletes, parents and friends was Juliet Wilson, supporting the St Anselm’s U13 Netball team, which were runners-up in the Team of the Year prize. She said: “It was a really great evening, well organised and well presented - and it was also great to hear such inspiring stories of success. Who would have thought there was so much talent in such a small area?”
Other runners-up on the night were Wirksworth & Middleton Cricket Club (Club of the Year), Emily Watson-Thoday (Young Sports Leader), Cameron Orr (Junior Sportsman), Katy Gigg (Junior Sportswoman) and Beth Foster (Disabled Sportsperson).