Eden sportsmen and women honoured at Cumbria awards night

Date: Saturday 25th November 2017

SEVERAL Eden sportsmen and women were rewarded for their achievements at the annual Cumbria Sports Awards, held at the Low Wood Hotel, Windermere, on Friday, when England under-20 and former Carlisle United manager Paul Simpson was the special guest.

The special award went to jockey Connor Murtagh, of Hurst, near Ivegill. Connor was born with a heart condition which required life-saving open heart surgery at just 10 days old, followed by two more similar operations, the last as recently as September, 2016.

Six months after this latest surgery, he had his first professional ride, aged just 16, and won the race on Symbolic Star — trained by his dad, Barry — at odds of 25-1 in front of cheering crowds at Newcastle.

Since then he has had more than 220 professional rides and so far has 19 winners.

Now 17, Connor has ridden in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster, the Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood, riding with the best of the best, including Ryan Moor, Paul Hannagan, and Frankie Dettori.

His heart specialist said Connor was probably the only professional sportsman in the world competing at the highest level with such a serious heart condition.

The winner of the service to sport award was Trevor "Jock" Nugent, from Appleby AFC.

Jock has been devoted to his football club for nearly 60 years. In his playing days, he was an all-action centre forward, and he then coached and managed the first team.

His roles within the club have continued every year since, and he now washes the shirts, takes care of training equipment, sees that the goalposts are out, ensures maintenance tasks are undertaken, and rarely misses a game.

He still travels with the team to away fixtures and can give the low down on just about every player who has pulled on a club shirt since 1960.

After Storm Desmond, the club’s pitch, which is next to the river, was out of action for more than 18 eighteen months, and home games had to be played in Penrith. He helped to keep morale at the club high, and they had a good 2016-17 season. He also worked with Eden Council officers to ensure that, despite many problems, the refurbishment works were completed and the club returned home in September this year.

Winner of the young sports leader/volunteer of the year award was Isaac Butterworth, of Penrith, who has been volunteering with Cumbria Rugby Union for a number of years, gaining qualifications in refereeing and coaching to support both his club and school in terms of their internal infrastructure.

He is also a prominent member of the Penrith RUFC Colts team and manages to balance his playing, academic, refereeing and volunteering commitments.

A regular referee at regional level fixtures, he is a great ambassador for the sport and was recently recognised by the RFU when he refereed at Twickenham before the England v. France men's and women's fixtures. He is also a Young Rugby Ambassador, a role which has seen him exceed 250 hours of volunteering and make him one of the best young rugby volunteers in the country.

Five "rising star" awards are presented every year, and this year one of those went to Poppy Scholefield, from Calthwaite, who excels at both football and cricket.

Poppy started playing for Castletown Girls at the age of 10 and won a Cumbria Sports Award in 2011 as part of the junior team of the year. Since then she has gone on to play for Blackburn Rovers, and more latterly Liverpool Ladies. Now aged 16, she is fully established in the heart of the Liverpool midfield, helping them win the prestigious Dana Cup in Denmark in July and reaching the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup.

Her cricketing career began at Hunter Hall School, Penrith, and then at the town's Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, where her talent was spotted, and she was invited to take part in trials for Yorkshire. These proved successful and she has had two years playing for the Yorkshire county squad.

Due to her GCSEs and her commitment to football, she has decided to focus less on her cricket and now plays in the Eden Valley League Premier Division for Scotby against the senior men.

Another Penrith Queen Elizabeth Grammar School student, footballer Beau Studholme, also received a rising star award.

This year, Beau, who lives at Wigton, joined Manchester City under-16s after four years at Sunderland. She travels to the Etihad Academy four evenings a week to train, and then again for matches at the weekend. She has also represented England at both under-16 and under-17 levels since making her debut at St. George’s Park in a 2-1 victory over Norway last year.

Beau also continued her success in high jump at county competitions, and retained her number one ranking in the North West.

The sports personality of the year award went to three-times British champion hammer thrower Nick Miller, of Carlisle.

This year Nick competed at the World Athletics Championships, where he cruised through the heats and into the final with his first throw, achieving the qualifying distance in the awful weather conditions.

The night of the final was nail-biting and at one point he was lying in the silver medal position. As the competition progressed he needed to better this, and his final throw looked brilliant, until it hit the cage. He finished sixth, the highest ever placing from a British male hammer thrower.

Nick, who is 24, is the highest ranking UK male hammer thrower in Europe and his world ranking currently stands at 13th.

Craig Cook, from Cleator, took the performance of the year award after a sensational 2017 in which he became British champion.

This season, 31-year-old Craig was captain of Workington Comets in the Championship and Belle Vue Aces in the Premiership, and also skipper of the Great Britain national team.

He was crowned British champion, having finished runner-up for the previous three years, and this ensured that he would qualify for the 2018 speedway grand prix, when he will compete with the world’s best riders with the aim of being crowned the best in the world.

Other award winner were: Volunteer of the year — Robbie Skelton, who volunteers in the world of rugby union and cricket, specifically through his involvement at Cockermouth Rugby Club in the winter and Cockermouth Cricket Club in the summer.

Coach of the year — England under-20 football team manager Paul Simpson. A former Carlisle United manager, Paul was appointed manager of the England under-20 side and led them to victory the 24-team world cup in South Korea this summer.

Community club of the year — Jogging Pals, of Kendal, which has transformed the lives of more than 300 inactive people to become more regularly active through engaging them in running.

Performance award for people with a disability — Nathaniel Pattinson.

Nathan plays wheelchair basketball for the Carlisle Panthers and this year was selected for Great Britain.

In preparation for the under-23 world championships, he flew out to Dubai to represent GB in an international competition, coming home with a gold medal and securing his place in the world championship squad. He then flew to Toronto to compete against the best in the world and helped Great Britain to reach defeat Turkey in a gripping final. They became the first GB team to win the world under-23 championships.

Team of the year — Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport rally team. Cockermouth-based M-Sport won the World Rally Championship by a massive 83 points against the manufacturing might of the likes of Hyundai, Toyota and Citroen.

Junior team of the year — Ulverston Victoria High School junior girls' orienteering team. The girls are the reigning British champions and were also selected to represent Great Britain at the world schools championships in Sicily in April, where they finished second overall.

Junior sports personality of the year —footballer Curtis Anderson, from Ulverston. Following another exceptional season, Curtis was named as first choice goalkeeper in the England under-17 team as they won the World Cup in India. He plays for Manchester City FC Academy.

Rising star awards — rugby league player Cameron Purdham, from Beckermet; runner Oliver Dustin, from Workington; and Daisy Armstrong a pupil at Sedbergh School, from the world of shooting.

Be Inspired award — Gary McKee, of Cleator Moor. A prolific fund-raiser for various charities, Gary, aged 47, took on his biggest challenge to date this year. Starting on 14th January, he ran 100 consecutive marathons in 100 consecutive days, finishing with the London Marathon on 23rd April. He raised more than £102,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Aspatria-based Sealy are the sponsors of this award and gifted a bed as an additional prize to the award-winner.