The winners of the annual Bedford Sports Awards have been announced, but for the second year running, the face-to-face ceremony was unable to take place due to Covid restrictions.
While 2020’s edition was completely cancelled, Bedford Borough Council were able to decide on thirteen winners on Friday 17th December, across a number of categories to recognise the contribution of many across sport in the town.
The winner of the coveted Adult Sport Personality of the Year came from the world of Equestrian, with Sarah Bullimore claiming the prize.
Ranked 10th in the world rankings, Sarah claimed individual bronze in Switzerland on board Corouet; a testament to the dedication she has given her sport as she continues her pursuit to the top.
The Junior award went to athlete Etienne Maughan, ranked second in the UK in the Under-17 category. Etienne has won a host of medals in the 100m and 200m Europe-wide, cementing her place as one of the nation’s top young athletes.
High jumper, Gracie Wall won a special commendation in the junior category, in what turned out to be a special year for the athletics youth of Bedford.
The Adult Disability award went to wheelchair tennis’ Dermot Bailey, who made his Paralympic debut in Tokyo and is now the World Number 33 in the sport.
It was a tough road for Bailey, who nearly didn’t make the Games at all due to reclassification changes, but he did eventually make the first round after a delay due to extreme heat.
Manjit Singh Kali-Rai won a special commendation, after turning to walking hockey following a stroke in his early 50’s.
The Junior award went to Varun Bandi; the wheelchair racer making a number of personal bests in a stellar year at Bedford International Athletics Stadium.
Riverside Tennis Club picked up the Club of the Year award, boasting a number of names competing in county competitions, as well as at Wimbledon and internationally.
Tennis was also the winner when it came to the Community Club award, with ‘No Barriers’ picking up the prize after their programme helped deliver tennis to over 50 people with disabilities.
Westfield Primary School won the Primary School of the Year Award; their fitness programme for youngsters catching the eye of the judging panel.
The introduction of the Daily Mile at the school has increased activity levels, culminating in a “run to Tokyo” which was completed by many of the school’s pupils.
The Women’s Over 35 hockey squad won Team of the Year after defending their Masters title despite tricky draws and a lot of travelling, beating Taunton Vale in the final.
Many sportspeople would not be the stars they are without a solid coach behind them; Richard Harpham being one of them across a number of sports in the Borough and won Coach of the Year this year.
Richard holds five different qualifications across climbing, rescue training, paddler sports and open water sports, making him one of the most decorated and dedicated coaches in our town.
The Unsung Hero award went to the late Paula Bailey, who dedicated a decade to to Modernian Swimming Club, working on funding for the club all the way up to her untimely passing in February 2021.
Finally, the Service to Sport award was won by kayaking’s Mike Carter, having been a member of the Viking Club for over 40 years until his passing earlier this year.
The Council had welcomed the return of the Awards, recognising the achievements and the efforts of those involved in sport across the town:
“These awards recognise and celebrate the contribution of individuals, clubs and coaches to sports and physical activity locally.”
“Physical movement, the camaraderie of team sports and the community has been key to so many people in keeping themselves fit, healthy and mentally well during the last 18 months.”
The portfolio holder for Leisure, Cllr Doug McMurdo added, “It is always so inspiring to hear the amazing stories of sporting prowess, community spirit and the incredible hard work of individuals across our local sporting landscape.”
Congratulations to all the winners, and fingers crossed for the Awards can take place in person in 2022.