Fred honoured with best coach award

Northumberland Sports Awards at Alnwick Playhouse.'Coach of the Year - Fred Maxwell (Ashington)with Craig Heap.
Northumberland Sports Awards at Alnwick Playhouse.'Coach of the Year - Fred Maxwell (Ashington)with Craig Heap.

SPORTING stars from throughout the county have been honoured for their success and dedication at a special ceremony.

Commitment and talent in the sporting arena were recognised at the first Northumberland Sport Awards.

Staged at Alnwick Playhouse, the competition was the brainchild of media partners Northeast Press and Tweeddale Press, which includes the News Post Leader.

Designed to celebrate the achievements and efforts of the cream of Northumberland’s sporting crop, the event was made up of ten categories, bringing together the winners of the Alnwick and District, Berwick and Tynedale sporting awards ceremonies.

Those nominated by the public were also in the running.

Among the winners on the night was Fred MacKenzie, from Newbiggin, who scooped the coach of the year award.

The 74-year-old puts in countless hours of coaching to help the juniors at the Parkhead and Wansbeck Power Sports Club and has coached for many years.

He described winning the accolade as an ‘honour’ and he was delighted to be recognised locally.

Other winners on the night including Surf-kayak star Tamsin Green, 37, from High Hauxley, was crowned senior female.

She became a world champion last year, meaning she has won every major women’s award in the sport.

There was also success for RAF Boulmer-based Corporal Keith McLaughlin, 30, who was named as senior male having been selected for the Great Britain bobsleigh team.

The talented Percy Hunt Open Tetrathlon Team was named as junior team/club on the night.

Comprising Steph Courty, Rebecca and Suzanne Barwise-Munro and Lizzie Pettifer, the girls put in consistent performances to help the team win August’s national Championships – something which had never been achieved by the club before.

Lowick United Ladies Football Club scored the senior team/club award.

The team have had a great time on the pitch, including an impressive run in the FA Women’s Cup, where they reached the third round at the first attempt.

Alnwick Town Football Club stalwart Clive Burn was honoured with the special contribution/recognition award.

The long-serving 81-year-old has been involved with the club for more than half a century.

Derek Thompson, from Morpeth, took the volunteer gong for his efforts at Morpeth Amateur Swimming Club, of which the 73-year-old has been a member for around 40 years.

England Under-18s and Newcastle Falcons rugby prodigy Scott Wilson, from Eyemouth, and under-18 world go-karting champion Matty Graham, who attends Ponteland High School, shared the junior male accolade.

Others to triumph on the night included Nicola Lamb (junior female) from Tynedale, who gained a silver medal in the world junior rowing championships in London as a member of the women’s coxless four.

Edward Common, from Whitley Chapel, Hexham, was the winner in the contribution to disability sport category.

He excels at table cricket, athletics and powerchair football.

Retired Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning gymnast Craig Heap was the evening’s guest speaker.

He paid tribute to the calibre and determination of those in the county’s sporting arena.

The former Olympian said: “It never ceases to amaze me where our sporting stars come from.

“It is great to have an awards ceremony which recognises the sporting achievements of people throughout the county.

“In Northumberland there are people who are doing some pretty amazing things.

“There is a breadth of talent in the area, which is nice to see.”

The 38-year-old also said it was fitting that the sport awards ceremony was held in the same week as when the Olympic Torch visited the area.

Stuart Birkett, managing director of Northeast Press and Tweeddale Press, was delighted at how the first event of its kind had gone and praised the county’s sporting stars.

He said: “After seeing the standard of the winners and shortlisted entries at these awards, it is clear that Northumberland has more than its fair share of sporting talent.

“In such an important week, in what is a huge year, for sport, it is fantastic to be able to celebrate the sporting, coaching and volunteering talent of the county at district, county, national and international level.”

The event, inspired by London 2012, formed part of the Festival of Alnwick.

Each winner received a trophy and a special Festival of Alnwick medal.