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Celebrating our Moorlands sporting heroes

Published on 17 June 2019

Celebrating sporting success in fields as diverse as archery and obstacle course racing took centre stage at the Staffordshire Moorlands Sports Awards.

The awards, organised by the District Council and held at Alton Towers, showcased local sporting talent alongside the often unsung dedication of volunteers and those who offer behind-the-scenes support to our local sporting heroes.

Winners at the ceremony included a young hockey player called up to the England u16 boys squad aged just 14; a dedicated swimming volunteer who is also an ASA qualified time keeper; an u15's female rugby team who are already champions of the North just a few years after the section was established; the manager of a ladies football team which finished third in their league and were runners-up in the league cup; a founder member of a cricket club who, over 40 years later, still plays a very active role as secretary; a company of league champion archers whose ages range from five to 80; and a world  and European gold-medal winning obstacle course racer.

Councillor Mark Deaville, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet member for sports and leisure, said: "I'd like to congratulate all our winners and all those who were nominated on their achievements and say a very big thank you to our excellent hosts Alton Towers for such a fantastic evening.

"Events like this demonstrate just how much local talent we have and it's great to be able to come together to recognise the commitment and hard work of not just our winners but all those who are involved in taking part and supporting sporting activity across the Moorlands.

"Being active makes a real difference to our health and wellbeing and one of our key aims is to encourage more and more people across the district to become more active. I hope that the example set by the people at these awards, and the diverse range of sports represented, inspires more of us to increase the activity in our own lives. Well done to everyone!"

The full list of winners is:

Junior Sports Achiever of the Year - Mackenzie Heath is a member of Leek Hockey Club who gained his first England caps in June last year in a Tri-Nations tournament in Edinburgh. He is part of the England u16 National Age Group squad and was also part of the u15 Boys Mercia Lynx team which won the 2018 England Hockey Futures Cup. And as if that wasn't enough, Mackenzie also finds time to help younger players develop and has achieved a Level 1 Assistant Sports Coach award.

Volunteer of the Year (sponsored by Parkwood Leisure) - Nigel Taylorhas been a volunteer at Leek Swimming Club for over eight years and has been coaching two-hour sessions twice a week since 2010. Nigel coaches all ability levels in the senior section of the club from county swimmers through to those competing at regional and national level. He also regularly helps out at inter-club leagues and galas.

Junior Sports Team of the Year - went to Leek Rugby Junior Team u15 Girlswho in just a few years have built up a strong squad which saw them crowned champions of the North and play in the National Final, where despite losing, they did themselves proud.

Sports Coach of the Year (sponsored by Dear Barber) - the manager of Leek Town Ladies Football Club Ian Smithhas been instrumental in the development of the team from an u15s team to their position now as one of the strongest in the midlands. The team finished third in the league last year and were runners-up in the league cup and Ian has again built on the side recruiting more quality players for this current season.

Alan Hurst Contribution of Sport Award - Mary Edwardswas a founder member of Oakamoor Cricket Club in 1976 and, since 1999, has been secretary. Her many and varied duties at the club range from scoring and catering teas to bar work and cleaning. She is club welfare officer, Club Mark representative, league representative and league official as well as the main organiser behind NatWest Cricket Force weekend and many other fundraising events. A keen supporter of the junior club members, Mary supports them at as many matches as she can and even cooks breakfast for them at Sunday morning matches.

Sports Team/Club of the Year Award (sponsored by Ornua) - Six Towns Company of Archerswas set up five years ago and now has almost 100 members of all ages. Amongst their many achievements, the club has been awarded all three specialisms (AGB club mark) in Performance, Young People and Community. They were awarded Performance Club of the Year 2018 by Archery GB. At the recent Staffordshire Indoor Championships they had champions in five categories at both junior and senior level.

Ted Perry Senior Sports Achiever of the Year (sponsored by Bowcock and Pursaill Solicitors) - Jason Burgess competes in Obstacle Course Racing at the highest level in the UK. He won his first world title in 2017 in Canada and became the first OCR champion to hold both world and European Gold by winning the event in Denmark in June 2018. He successfully defended his title by winning his second World Gold medal to hold two World and one European Gold at the same time. Jason continues to coach and mentor children at Churnet View Middle School in Leek where he works.