Youngsters honoured at Chichester sport awards ceremony

The young person's commitment to sport nominees / Picture by Kate Shemilt
The young person's commitment to sport nominees / Picture by Kate Shemilt

YOU may not all go home with awards – but you are all winners in your own way.

That was the message to the scores of youngsters, coaches and volunteers nominated in the 2015 Chichester District Youth Sport and Community Achievement Awards.

The scheme has been run by Chichester District Council since the turn of the millennium, with backing from the Chichester Observer and the Rotary Club of Chichester Priory.

Many past winners have gone on to turn professional in their chosen sport, compete at the top level at home and aborad and represent their country.

This year, the ceremony moved to a new venue – The Showroom at the University of Chichester – and proved as popular as ever with a large crowd of young sportsmen and women packing into their seats along with parents, club officials and friends.

The main gold award this year – the Dennis Polhill Award, named after one of Chichester’s late great sporting stalwarts – went to 17-year-old Jess Breach, who has cemented a place in the England under-18 women’s rugby sevens squad andhelped them win a European title. Jess is featured on the back page.

But she was just one of many winners, and organisers were quick to praise everyone nominated, saying many categories brought agonising decisions over who should walk off with the trophies.

District council chairman Nick Thomas was one of the CDC representatives present and pointed out that where much of the country had seen its sporting scene sparked into life by the London 2012 Olympics, the Chichester district had enjoyed a thriving set of clubs and leagues long before this, one which looked set to continue long-term.

A number of Rotary Club representatives were in attendance, and one, Graham Jessop, paid tribute to the hard work put into sport by the young people nominated in this year’s awards and all the parents, coaches and club volunteers without whom none of the action would be possible.

He also praised the Observer for keeping all the local youth sport in the public eye.

Below are details of the all the award winners...

Team of the Year: Chichester RFC under-nines

Astonishing success. West Sussex champions 2013, 14, 15, Sussex champions 2014, 15. Undefeated this year, despite many teams in Sussex being very keen to ‘have a go’ at the champions. Coached on an entirely voluntary basis by fathers of the players, the under-nines have established great friendships and loyalty within a group of boys from many different schools.

These small boys play with such passion, support for each other and pride in their team’s achievements, which is exceptional considering they are so young. Imagine the delight on their faces when they retained the Sussex Cup this year.

Community Project of the Year: Out There! West Sussex

This is a brand-new category which recognises the effort of a group or organisation using sport and physical activity as a tool to engage with local people with learning disabilities.

This organisation runs regular community-based sessions for over 60 people from Chichester every week. The aim of this organisation is to prepare young people aged 16-plus with learning disabilities for the transition into adulthood.

Working with partners such as the University of Chichester and Chichester College, Out There! West Sussex, over the past 12 months, has used sport to settle people in this difficult period of their life.

This year, they organised a Festival of Cricket at the University of Chichester, and had more than 100 participants taking part. As a direct result of this festival, three participants were selected for the Sussex county cricket disability squad for 2015.

Volunteer of the Year: Viv Mills – Chichester Fencing Club

Viv Mills began fencing in her late 40s. She arrived at Chichester Fencing Club and informed head coach Sharon Blackman she wanted to be in the Team GB Para squad. Lo and behold, through dedication and hard work, Viv was selected to represent Team GB. Such is her character, however, Viv gave up her place in the squad for someone she felt deserved it.

Since Viv stopped her GB involvement, she has dedicated all her time to Chichester Fencing Club. This year she has travelled the length and breadth of the country to support club members, specifically one young lad with a disability, for whom she bought all kit necessary to fence, as well as providing travel to national events.

Recently, this young person has taken part in the UK School Games, an achievement which would not have been possible had it not been for Viv’s total and utter dedication.

Coach of the Year: Shaun Dowling – Chichester Westgate Triathlon Club

Shaun has overseen some fantastic success stories within CWTC over the past 12 months. The club’s junior section has reached an all-time high point and while this is not down only to Shaun’s influence on the youngsters, he has certainly has had a profound effect.

Shaun is modest in all he does – he was admirably reluctant to be nominated for an award – and as a keen triathlete, he gives so much back to the sport he loves. Shaun coaches the younger age group but is always keen to help and inspire other junior members of the club in any way that he can.

Young Person’s Commitment to Sport: Ryan Darwen – Sussex Table Tennis

Ryan is currently ranked 29th in the country. He has excelled in a number of sports including athletics, sailing, triathlon, football and swimming. He is the ultimate team player, always there to support and encourage his team-mates.

Last July he was a key member of the team that won the South West Sussex Summer League, winning 80 per cent of his matches, most of his wins coming against adults.

In the season just finished, Ryan again played a major part in the team who came second in division two, winning promotion to division one. His life revolves around practice and playing.

Having been inspired by attending the London 2012 Paralympics, Ryan vowed one day to be an Olympian, and if he continues to show the drive, determination and commitment, he could be well do so.

Outstanding Sports Performance: Daisy Seymour – Swimming

Dasiy Seymour is a member of Guildford City Swimming Club and pupil at Midhurst Rother College. This season, Daisy was selected to represent Guildford at a national swim gala.

Overcoming regional rivals such as Oxford City and Portsmouth Northsea, Daisy was part of the squad which went on to compete nationally in four separate galas, beating the City of Leeds in the final. Since then, Daisy has been selected to train at the South East England Talent camp in September, along with just 36 others across the region.

Dennis Polhill Award: Jess Breach – Rugby

Starting her rugby journey at Chichester RFC, Jess last year took part in trials and was selected for the first under-18 England women’s rugby sevens squad to take part in the FIRA European Championships in Sweden. There were 12 countries participating, and Jess played in every game and scored nine tries, ensuring England won every game and were subsequently crowned European champions.

See this week’s Chichester Observer for a full list of nominees and a picture special from the ceremony

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