The chairman of Wrekin Riders BMX Club was the biggest winner at Shropshire’s 11th annual physical activity and community sports ‘oscars’, the Energize Awards.
Kieran Edwards – who turned his back on a nine-to-five job to dedicate himself to the club – picked up three accolades, including the William Penny Brookes trophy for outstanding contribution to the county.
He also won the Local Hero title, and the club took the Active Spaces & Places prize.
Wrekin Riders started as a small club based at a pump track, but under Kieran’s stewardship it now has national standard competition facilities, and will host two rounds of the 2018 British BMX Series event, which will bring around 3,000 people to the county.
The audience heard that he was described by colleagues as a man who ‘eats, sleeps and breathes BMX’ and who wants to inspire young people to enjoy the fresh air, build confidence – and just have fun.
The awards celebrate the achievements of community projects, workplaces, schools, volunteers, community facilities, and inspirational leaders.
David Sherratt, chairman of the Energize board, said: “It’s not just the winners and runners-up we celebrate at an event like this. We also salute all of those who have been nominated, together with the wider community; a significant proportion of which is voluntary.”
Two-time paralympic archery medallist Mel Clarke was the guest of honour at this year’s event, held at the Telford Hotel & Golf Resort.
She told how she had overcome major health problems to reach the top, and now spent time delivering motivational messages to Shropshire schoolchildren, while also training for the Tokyo 2020 games.
The awards were backed by a host of big-name organisations including the Shropshire Star, BBC Shropshire, Sport England, Pleydell Smithyman, Teme Leisure, Global Freight, Furrows, Start Technology, Nick Jones Wealth Planning, GS & PA Reeves Limited, Yarrington, and the Wenlock Olympian Society.
Breaking Chains Cycling Club, represented by Newport cycling coach Ollie Atkin, won the Small Community Project title. It is part of the ‘A Better Tomorrow’ project which helps recovering addicts.
Rachael Swinnerton, who started the Cheerforce Ten cheerleading academy in Telford from scratch six years ago, was named Inspirational Activity Leader. The academy now has 150 athletes in Shropshire – and a further 120 at a second site in Carlisle.
Telford’s teenage football star Sadie Craig won the Aspiring Talent trophy. She made her debut, aged 14, earlier this year, playing international football for Northern Ireland – in the under 17 team.
Another young winner was Ashleigh Sale, who was named Young Volunteer of the year. She has blossomed since she started taking classes at Elite Dance Studios in Shrewsbury, in 2015.
There was also an award for the studios, which picked up the Actively Changing Lives award, for the work it does helping disadvantaged people.
The Power of Sport Award, for someone who has used it to change their life, went to Kathryn Stanworth. She has shed 146lbs and become a West Midlands boxing champion, through the Bright Star academy.
Idsall School in Shifnal won the Active School trophy. Guests heard how it was a leading light in the county’s school games, and had active links with 14 local sports and community clubs.
The Large Community Project title went to Be Active, which provides access to affordable exercise and sports in parts of Telford, and the NHS Telford & Wrekin CCG won the Active Workplace award.
Five of the Energize Awards winners – Kathryn Stanworth, Sadie Craig, Rachael Swinnerton, Elite Dance Studios, and Breaking Chains – now go through to represent Shropshire at the West Midlands community sport finals, being held in Birmingham on December 7.
For more details about the Energize Awards please visit www.energizeawards.co.uk