The huge range of young sporting talent across the Chichester district was celebrated in style at the 2012 Youth Sport Achievement Awards.
A crowd of hundreds of sporty youngsters, their parents and friends and club coaches and volunteers descended upon Westgate Leisure to hear who had won seven different awards out of hundreds of worthy nominations.
The awards are run by Chichester District Council with backing from the Observer and Chichester Priory Rotary Club.
In a sense, everyone nominated was a winner – but that didn’t prevent a great sense of anticipation as those present waited for winners to be revealed.
The youngsters and everyone who makes their sporting activities possible were praised by Cllr Graham Hicks, who said it was pleasing to see such a broad spectrum of sporting talent on show at an exciting time for sport locally and nationally, with a busy of events culminating in the Olympics and Paralympics.
The night’s main trophy is the Youth Sport Achievement Award, for which the winner is voted for by Observer readers.
Graham Jessop, of the Rotary club, said: “It’s a real privilege to be among so many talented young sportsmen and women ... I hope some of you may feature when the Olympics come around again in 2016.”
Mr Jessop also praised the support the Observer gives to youth sport by highlighting the efforts of hundreds of youngsters in its pages.
The main Youth Sport Achievement Award went to sailor Ben Chrystall, as reported on the back page, but dozens of youngsters picked up gold, silver and bronze-award certificates for playing sport for their country, county and district.
In a hotly-contested team of the year category, the award was picked up by manager Sean Forry on behalf of Chichester City’s under-18 football team, who had a superb season and have now gone two years unbeaten.
Stewart McKenzie, who puts in countless hours coaching young members of Chichester Runners & AC, many of whom achieve regional success, was named coach of the year.
Sally Walker of Dragonflyers trampoline club won the volunteer of the year prize.
The club treasurer volunteered to help as the club were about to fold last year. Sally saved the club and has taken on many more roles for the club to meet Gymmark standards. She does practically all administration, spots at trampolines and helps at competitions.
Ivan Western won the Outstanding Contribution to Sport award. The lifetime member of West Wittering Sailing Club has made a personal commitment to growing the club’s junior section.
He started by encouraging youngsters to support a regatta day, then expanded it into a three-day event which has grown into one which now involves more than 60 eight to 15-year-olds and takes over a week of life.
The Outstanding Performance award went to GB fencing ace George Hendrie, who won two medals at fencing’s Commonwealth Games in Jersey – gold in the team event and silver in the individual.
Teenager Max Wiseman took the honours in a competitive Young Person’s Commitment to Sport category. He devotes much of his spare time to football coaching after deciding some years ago to give something back to the sport he enjoyed.
He has been selected for national courses and an FA scholarship.
Prizes were presented by Cllr Hicks, his council colleague Cllr Eileen Lintill, the Rotary Club’s Bob Syme and Observer sports editor.