A veteran champion of community sport, a volunteer cricket coach and Paralympic silver medallist have been named among the winners of the prestigious West Midlands Community Sports Awards 2016.
The West Midlands Community Sports Awards in association with The University of Birmingham 360 Sport & Fitness, its principal supporter, highlight the power of sport by recognising sports clubs, projects and individuals that have made a difference in their local community.
Top of the bill was David Finney, who was named BBC Midlands Sport Unsung Hero and will now represent the West Midlands in front of a live TV audience at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December.
David, who set up The Bridge Swimming Club in Redditch over 40 years ago and has since added a badminton club and a youth club, was recognised for his dedication to supporting others through sport in his local town over more than four decades.
He was joined on stage by other winners including swimmer Rebecca Redfern, from Worcester, who won a silver medal at the Paralympics in Rio this summer, and David Rigby, a volunteer coach for 31 years at Kidsgrove Cricket Club in Staffordshire.
The Power of Sport Award was shared by two people that have used boxing to turn their lives around; Yousef Khiara, a youngster who has changed his attitude to life since joining O’Dell’s Amateur Boxing Club in Birmingham 18 months ago, and Ian Nash, from Redditch, who joined Redditch Boxing Academy in a bid to beat depression and has since found a real passion for the sport.
Coventry-based community football club Coundon Court FC and Big Birmingham Bikes, a 20-year initiative encouraging more people to cycle in and around Birmingham, also picked up awards, while showjumper Nick Skelton was inducted into the BBC Midlands Sporting Hall of Fame.
Nick, who finally won his first individual gold medal at his seventh Olympic Games this year, joins previous winners including Sir Stanley Matthews, Dennis Amiss, Gordon Banks, Dave Moorcroft and Richie Woodall.
All the winners were announced at a special ceremony at Villa Park last night (30 November), hosted by Nick Owen and Mary Rhodes from BBC Midlands.
Zena Wooldridge, Director of Sport at the University of Birmingham said: “Once again the quality of the short-listed candidates was exceptional and their contribution quite amazing in some cases. The numbers and range of nominees across these awards is reflective of a huge workforce, often volunteers, who are the heartbeat of community sport in the West Midlands.”
“It was a real honour for 360 Sport & Fitness to be involved as principal supporter and I am delighted to see the positive impact that sport continues to have in our local communities.”
Chris Child, chair of the WMCSA and chief executive of Energize Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, said: “The West Midlands was the region with the most applications for the Unsung Hero Award, with more than 50 entries put forward, and that goes some way to showing the esteem in which people like David Finney are held by their peers, colleagues, students and friends.
“Congratulations to all of the winners and good luck to David as he goes up against winners from other regions at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year event.”
The West Midlands Community Sports Awards is run by six County Sports Partnerships across the region; Black Country BeActive Partnership; Coventry, Solihull & Warwickshire Sport; Energize Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin; Sport Across Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent; Sport Birmingham; and Sports Partnership Herefordshire & Worcestershire.