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Help us find the Black Country's unsung heroes

By Jamie Brassington | News | Published:

The search has begun for the sportsmen and women and the unsung heroes in the Black Country that go the extra mile for their chosen field.

Suzy Evans and Owen Richards

Voting has opened on the annual prestigious awards which honours the Black Country's brightest sport stars.

Members of the public are being urged to put forward their nominations ahead of the Black Country Sport and Physical Activity Awards.

A total of 10 categories are included in this year's awards, two more than last year, with the winners to be announced at a ceremony on November 10 at the Copthorne Hotel in Dudley.

The awards logo

The awards are organised by Active Black Country, which is the sporting arm of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership.

The awards cover a wide range of aspects in the sporting world, from focusing on individual athletes and coaches to sports clubs and schools or shining stars to behind-the-scenes volunteers.

The main aim of the awards is to ensure people from the Black Country who have contributed a lot to sport to be given their well deserved moment in the spotlight.

Previous winners have included Olympic gymnast Kristian Thomas, tennis player Jordanne Whiley and fundraisers Suzy Evans and son Owen Richards.

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Jordanne Whiley MBE

A spokesman for the event said: "Active Black Country is urging people to put forward their local sporting heroes, especially those whose lives have been improved through the power of physical activity and sport.

"There are thousands of people across the Black Country doing fantastic things to inspire people to lead healthier, fun and active lives, from netball to boccia, football to zumba.

"Active Black Country want to recognise those individuals and organisations, whether they are coaching future talent, reaching out to less advantaged people, or achieving sporting success of their own.

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"But we need you to nominate them."

The deadline for the nominations will be midnight on October 3 and anyone looking to nominate should visit https://www.activeblackcountry.co.uk/events/black-country-sport--physical-activity-awards-2017/

Kristian, aged 28 from Wolverhampton, was the guest of honour last year and went on to receive the Sports Personality of the Year award. It came after he enjoyed a stellar year, which saw him win two silver medals at the European Championships and compete in the Rio Olympics.

Kristian Thomas

Speaking at the awards' ceremony last year, Kristian described receiving the award as an honour, adding: "I am very proud to be representing the Black Country."

Suzy and Owen collected the award for Community Project of the Year after their Run for Joel event. The event was set up in memory of Suzy's son Joel who died in the 2015 Tunisia terror attacks.

It attracted more than 1,000 runners and raised more than £27,000. The event was held again this year on Sunday in Sandwell Valley and again attracted over a thousand runners.

And the previous year one of Britain's greatest former professional cyclists, Hugh Porter MBE, was presented with the Elvis Gordon Chair's Recognition Award for his outstanding contribution to both sport and the Black Country.

Hugh Porter

The 10 categories in the Black Country Sport and Physical Activity Awards are:

  1. Coach of the Year: This award recognises the achievements of a paid or unpaid coach who has made a significant impact on those they have coached and is committed to providing more opportunities for people to start, stay and succeed in sport.They must be a qualified coach (paid or unpaid) in a sport recognised by Sport England.Judges will be looking at the contribution of the coach to encourage more people to start, stay or succeed in sport and physical activity as well as being a positive role model, someone who has built up strong relationships and links with clubs, schools and/or other community organisations and has special qualities that set them apart from others.
  2. Community Club of the Year: This award recognises a community sports club that provides a high quality sports environment for its members. The club will have achieved this through supporting coaches and volunteers and developing the infrastructure of the club for both current members and future generations. Nominees must be a club providing a sport/sports recognised by Sport England, committed to raising standards and have achieved (or at least be working towards) Clubmark or an equivalent quality mark or affiliation. Judges will be considering how engaged the club is with the local community, how it encourages members to start, stay and succeed in sport, a commitment to the development of the members of their club, including participants, coaches and volunteers and how it is committed to the long-term development of the club, for example, has put in place a club infrastructure which will sustain the club in the future, trying to ensure members can participate at good quality facilities etc.
  3. Community Impact Award: This award recognises a sport and/or physical activity project which uses innovative approaches to improve the lives of Black Country communities or groups of people who are not usually active. Examples of projects could include support groups using sport or physical activity as a therapeutic activity or projects that support young people to develop the skills to become more life ready. The project must have made a significant contribution to overcoming barriers in the participation of sport & physical activity in the geographical area of Dudley Sandwell, Walsall or Wolverhampton. There should be evidence of how innovative ideas have been used to engage local communities who are not usually active and/or who have specific needs or issues, how it has been used to tackle specific social or emotional issues or improved the physical and/or mental wellbeing of the participants. Judges will be looking for an inspiration and example of best practice for others, dedication and commitment from those involved and special qualities that set them apart from others.
  4. Sports Personality of the Year: This category is for sports people who have displayed excellence in their chosen sport. Examples of this would be County Champions, National and International athletes. Nominees for this category must be 19 years or over during the nomination period.
  5. Aspiring Athlete of the Year: This award recognises a young person (including disability athletes/players) who has progressed and excelled in his/her sport and is a positive role model to others. Judges are looking for someone who has excelled in their chosen sport e.g. at regional, national or international level and demonstrated considerable commitment, who is an inspiration and positive role model to others and has used his/her achievements and experiences to make a positive impact on their community and /or club.
  6. The Power of Sport Award: This award recognises an individual whose life has significantly changed and improved through adopting a more active lifestyle. Being new to an active lifestyle in the past 18 months, the individual will be have made significant improvements to their life as a direct result of taking part in their chosen sport or activity/activities and may have also made a positive impact on the lives of others’ around them. Improvements can be in their physical health, mental wellbeing, personal improvement, social development or any combination. The award is open to individuals of any age but they must be active in the Black Country, new to the sport or activity/activities within the last 18 months leading up to September 2017 and their participation in the activity must be sustained, or they must have gone on to participate in other activities.
  7. Unsung Hero: This award recognises those who give up their time for free and by doing so make participating in sport & physical activity possible. This category aims to recognise the wide variety of roles that volunteers and unsung heroes perform, from club secretaries and treasurers to fundraisers. The nominee must have made a positive impact on others through giving up their time for free in sport and physical activity and to a sport recognised by Sport England. The critieria looks for someone who has made a contribution to encourage more people to start, stay or succeed in sport and physical activity, is an inspiration and positive role model and has demonstrated considerable commitment to volunteering over a number of years.
  8. Sportivate Project of the Decade: This category has been developed to enable Sportivate deliverers from over the years to submit a nomination for their project. The project could have taken place at any time since the inception of Sportivate in 2011.
  9. Satellite Club of the Year: This award recognises a satellite club that has developed and excelled over the past 12 months. The club must have developed an effective link with a school or college, engaged with young people to provide the opportunities that they want at a time they want them, developed an effective management structure and considered the sustainability of the club for the future and can demonstrate how they open up the sessions to all
  10. School of the Year: This award recognises schools that have used physical education or physical activity or sport as part of their improvement and achievement of school targets. Schools must provide evidence of how a broad and balanced physical education curriculum has supported the learning and progress of all pupils [mandatory] and such concerns as how physical education, physical activity and sport are integrated within the school improvement plan, strong links with parents /carers and the wider Community, how the school has improved the mental health and wellbeing of its pupils and increased levels of activity within the school?

For full details of the criteria and to download the nomination forms, nominators should go to https://www.activeblackcountry.co.uk/events/black-country-sport--physical-activity-awards-2017

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Trainee Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Reporter covering Dudley, Sandwell and Wyre Forest. Also dabble in sport. Call me on 01384353205 or email jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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