THE search for amateur sporting stars and unsung heroes across East Lancashire is finally over as the shortlist for the fourth Grass Roots Heroes Awards are revealed.
The Lancashire Telegraph, together with United Utilities, have again teamed up to recognise and reward those people who contribute so much to their communities through participation in sport.
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And after six months and hundreds of nominations, a shortlist for nine categories has been finalised – while there is still the chance to have your say in our People’s Choice award.
Alex James, sports editor of the Lancashire Telegraph, is delighted with the response.
He said: “Sport is so important to life in East Lancashire and I am delighted that they have been so well received and supported by the sporting community. The high standard of entries just goes to show how rich and diverse grass roots sport is in the area.”
A shortlist for nine of the 10 categories have been drawn up while you still have the chance to vote for the People’s Choice award.
The awards have proved to be increasingly popular and once again underline the strength in depth of the sporting pedigree across East Lancashire.
The 10 categories coverer all aspects of amateur sport in the area to those who succeed on their chosen playing field to those who work hard behind the scenes.
The Grassroots Heroes Awards take place at Mytton Fold Hotel on Thursday, January 29 and promises to be a celebration of amateur sport.
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
The talented teenager from Accrington is a part of the England tenpin bowling team and has been tipped for European and World glory. VOTE HERE...
The 14-year-old won the U14s Girls National Trophy Series and was second in the National Championships in her second full season. VOTE HERE...
JUNIOR SPORTS PERSONALITY
Todmorden teen won gold medal in wheelchair table tennis at the IWAS World Junior Games. Also won double gold at the Cote d’Azur International in Hyères les Palmiers.
The 16-year-old Burnley College student beat off tough competition from some of the world’s leading taekwondo athletes to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships in Edinburgh.
The 14-year-old Pioneer 79 swimming has enjoyed a remarkable season, setting new pbs, reaching nationals finals and culminated with representing the Isle of Man in the Commonwealth Games.
SENIOR SPORTS PERSONALITY
The 20-year-old kick boxer from Bacup was crowned world champion for the 12th time - a feat made all the more remarkable after she had returned to the sport following the birth of her first child.
Pendle skier Bethany is one of the best young skiers in Europe and clinched a number of podium finishes and securing a place on the British CIT team - a stepping stone towards the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea.
Veteran potter Tommy proved he was the stand-out player in 2014 by winning a hat-trick of titles in the Blackburn and Darwen Snooker League. He won the singles, champion of champions and Mick Hibbert Trophy.
JUNIOR TEAM OF THE YEAR
Ribble Valley U14s Netball
Team were crowned champions of England after lifting the national netball title.
The talented team were also crowned regional champions.
Moorland U16s football
Moorland Under 16s were crowned the kings of England after winning the Independent Schools’ Football Association Under 16 Shield in the school’s first ever season in the competition.
St Bede’s U15s girls football
The Blackburn school underlined its ability to unearth football talent after winning a second national title in three years.
They beat Fullbrook School to lift the ESFA U15s Cup at Reading FC.
SENIOR TEAM OF THE YEAR
Made East Lancashire League history after stepping up from the Blackburn Combination to win the Division Two title in their first season then Division One in their second season.
The hockey team enjoyed a remarkable season, clinching the North West Hockey League Division Four North title by winning all their games.
The team also finished runners-up in the Lancashire Trophy
St Pauls Snooker A
St Pauls A capped a memorable season in the Blackburn and Darwen Games Federation after sealing a first ever hat-trick of snooker honours winning the A League, Team Knockout and Champion of Champions.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Puts in time after school in particular with regards to girls football at St Bede’s which saw the U15s crowned national champions. School won may other titles as well.
Has worked hard to turn Pioneer 79 Swimming Club in to one of the most successful in Lancashire, winning many galas.
Has helped wimmers achieve National Qualify Times and reach national final.
Has worked hard to make sure Burnley Gymnastics Club is thriving and competing at regional and national level. Helped the club gain the coveted GymMark Accreditation from British Gymnastics
COMMUNITY CLUB OF THE YEAR
Towneley Tennis Club
The club became the first non city venue to become an official Tennis For Free site and the club has worked closely with the LTA and Burnley Council since it was relaunched last year.
Blackburn and Darwen Acro Club
Established and well run gymnastics club with hard working coaches that regularly produce young gymnasts who compete at the highest level, many of whom have won area and regional titles.
Burnley-based swimming club has had an outstanding year. Works hard to nurture young swimming talent, many of whom compete at the highest level - including Commonwealth Game swimmer Tom Hamer.
Won of the LFA volunteer of the Year for the tireless work he has done behind the scenes with Mill Hill FC’s junior and senior teams and also the Blackburn Sunday League.
Set up 5KGroupRun 18 months ago after competing the Couch to 5K plan and realising there were no groups to help those trying to get fit through running. Since then, has helped more than 1,200 runners.
Won the FA outstanding contribution to community football for the work he has done in Ribchester Juniors FC which folded in 2004. He holds weekly training sessions and tournaments, helping the club.
She has worked in a voluntary capacity organising and running Junior Golf for Girls in Lancashire for nearly 40 years, enabling many girls to progress to county, national and international honours.
She helped out run the girls section at Pleasington Golf before she was officially appointed County Girls Junior organiser in 1988.
Bill has been a loyal servant in the Blackburn Sunday League and has helped maintain the work carried out by previous league officials. Heavily involved with Mill Hill FC as well and recent helped set up a group to seek funding and secure the future of grassroots football in the area – a model he thinks could be rolled out across the country.
John is a stalwart of both the Burnley Miners Sunday League and the Warburton Youth League and is amateur football through and through.
He now plays a key role in the Burnley Unity Youth League and has been involved in local league football for more than 40 years.
He also helped run the Hospital Cup.
He used to spar and train at Fit2Fight Kick Boxing club before becoming a referee.
He was diagnosed with a form of leukemia in 2005.
Despite that, he has managed to control his health and now 64, regularly officiates at local shows and refereeing 40 bouts in one sitting is a regular occurrence.
John has been a professional snooker referee for almost 35 years after ex-pro referee Bill Riley got him interested when they were both players at Baxenden Conservative Club. As a team skipper it was usually John that had to referee the local league games and that, along with his love of the game got him into the ranks of pro refs.
Eric is a a seven-days-week bowls man but he says his experiences in a wide range of sports have helped him succeed in later life.
He is either playing the game - both indoor and outdoor - or helping to run events and writes weekly reports fort he Dorothy Southworth Indoor League in Clitheroe.