THE FIRST Ripley and Heanor News sports awards saw our top sportsmen and women step into the spotlight.
On Thursday, July 21, the nominees for the inaugural ceremony descended on the Field Terrace Community Centre on Slack Lane, in Ripley.
The proud winners and runners up were presented with trophies and certificates in a number of categories by editor Julie Crouch and representatives from kind sponsors Hardy, Miles Titterton Solicitors.
Taking home the gongs were athletes from a wide spectrum of sport, from running, to motorcycling.
And the men and women who have worked hard behind the scenes of our top clubs and organisations were also rewarded for their contribution to sport in the community.
Picking up the award for best sporting male was 25-year-old cricketer Andrew Wilson. The talented batsman from Victoria Street in Ripley has been playing for Swanwick Hall Cricket Club since he was ten and this season hit 133 runs in a spectacular innings against Ambergate.
And the current vice-captain was pleased to be accepting the award.
He said: “I’m very happy. It’s been a great year for me and for the club because we are top of the table. It’s great to be a part of that and to contribute like I have.”
Bright hope for the future Zack Needham took home the Youth Award for those under 18.
The kickboxer is just 14 but he is already the 36kg world title holder.
The Mill Hill School pupil from Lamb Crescent in Ripley is also the English title holder.
Proudly accepting his award, the youngster said he felt ‘brilliant really’ about his achievements so far.
Youngster Zack is now looking for sponsorship to be able to carry on doing the sport he loves.
Smalley man Rob Rainsford will be familiar to anyone who has ever taken part in the gruelling 10 kilometre Pudding Run round Shipley Country Park every November.
Taking home the prize for best unsung hero, Rob, 50, won the prize for all his efforts organising the yearly event, which this year could attract nearly 1,000 runners.
He said: “This was a big surprise, it’s great that people recognise what you are doing.
“The easiest part is running the course, the hardest part is organising it!”
And after a blistering year, storming to victory in the Conference North Division, Alfreton Town FC club secretary, Bryan Rudkin, accepted the award for Team of the Year.
Next year, they will rub shoulders with a whole range of former Football League clubs in the Conference Premier Division.
Mr Rudkin said: “It was a great year and this absolutely caps it off.
“To be back in my home town picking up an award, what could be better?
“If someone said to me ten years ago that we would be playing against the likes of Luton they would have been sectioned, but we have got there.”
Ripley and Heanor News editor, Julie Crouch congratulated all of the winners of this year’s sports awards.
She said: “This is hopefully the first of many sports awards we hold and thanks to the wonderful readers, this event will continue to grow and grow - a big thank you to all of those who voted for the deserving sportsmen and women seen here today.”