British Judo’s stars and unsung heroes recognised at awards

Around 300 members of the judo community gathered at the 2013 British Judo Awards, held at the Hilton in St Georges Park, Burton Upon Trent -the home of England Football on Saturday 16 November.

The evening’s celebrations began with awards for the players of the year across all of levels of the sport in what was a chance for the British Judo Association to say thank you to them for their efforts and achievements over the past 12 months.

Cadet players of the Year awards were given to Lulu Piovesana and Peter Miles who have each had an incredible year with both winning bronze at the World Cadet Championships in Miami and competing at the Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Junior Player of the Year awards went to Nekoda Davis, European Junior bronze medallist and Philip Awiti-Alcaraz, who is ranked no 3 at junior European level. Both accepted the awards in their final year as junior athletes before they step-up full time onto the senior team.

Player of the Year awards were won by Sally Conway and Colin Oates. Sally, who last year after fighting for GB at London 2012, recovered from a shoulder injury and took gold in the Samsun Grand Prix and Colin recently took gold at the European Open for men in Glasgow after beating an Olympic Champion and a World Champion back-to-back in the World Championships.

Sally who was unable to collect her award in person, posted on Twitter: 

“I am really happy to have been voted British Judo Female Player of the Year.

“Thank you for the votes and for all of your congratulation messages.”

The Masters Player of the Year accolade went to Sarah Hopkins, whose years of hard work and dedication have earned her the titles of British, Commonwealth, European and World Champion.

Paralympic silver medallist Sam Ingram won Visually Impaired (VI) Player of the Year as he has pushed on to win places on both the sighted and visually impaired squads – which is an outstanding achievement.

Special Needs Player of the Year Award, sponsored by Destination Judo went to Christopher Murphy who was selected by the BJA Inclusion Commission by being an ‘ambassador for the sport’ both on and off the mat and for his many achievements.

Power of the Volunteer

However, it was the achievements of the referees, officials, volunteers, coaches and clubs – all unsung heroes who work tirelessly to enable the star athletes get on the mat and achieve their places on the podium in the first place, which perhaps shone the brightest.

Referee of the Year winners

In the Young Referee of the Year Award category, gold went to Jason Bull who is at the present, the most active junior referee that the BJA has – a committed individual who first obtained his junior gold refereeing award in 2010.

Silver went to James Neve and bronze to Bryony Griffiths and Matthew Hemer.

For Referee of the Year the gold award went to Andrew Tremlett. Andrew is an IJF referee and the referee co-ordinator on the Hampshire committee. Most weekends he is out refereeing and despite having commitments with large international events he regularly attends events in Hampshire.

Silver went to Neil Lawcock and bronze to Carol Leverton and Ryan Gordon.

Official of the Year gold award went to Sarah Newbury, who performs the full range of duties from table official to tournament director with a second to none ability to cope under pressure. Her aim to always do whatever is best for the players is unfailing and she is a true volunteer, often at a different event every weekend.

Silver went to Mike Draper and bronze to Lynn Stringer and Nicky and Paul Sexton.

Club Volunteer of the Year gold award went to Lesley Thomas, the ‘silent superstar’ who works tirelessly to promote her club and hasn’t missed a club night for 18 years. She collects mat fees, welcomes parents and players, completes the paperwork and attends all the events.

Silver award went to Pam Wesson and bronze to Gina Ellerton and Steven Geary.

Event Volunteer of the Year gold award went to Jill West who has helped South Shields Judo Club become the club it is today. She regularly travels from her home in Nottinghamshire to South Shields to run competitions, technical official courses and offer advice on recruiting volunteers.

Silver award went to Robin Newett and bronze to Malcolm Limrick and Michelle Riley.

Coach of the Year gold award went to John Allen who has never missed a club session even when he was on dialysis and later underwent a kidney transplant.

Silver award went to Jo Crowley and bronze to David Kerr and Hayley Wise.

In the Ippon Energy Club of the Year Award, gold went to Northbrook, whose work with Fighting Chance has allowed them to introduce judo to 14 schools and to raise the profile of the sport throughout London.

Silver award went to Patchway and bronze to Coventry and Fleming Park.

Meanwhile, Reece Peacock of Patchway Judo Club was crowned Young Volunteer of the Year and took the gold award as one of his peers Mollie Finn (also from Patchway) took silver.

Reece was described as a true asset to his club who never hesitates to lend a helping hand. He even gave 20 hours to the club while in the middle of his GCSE’s. He is a true role model for the sport. Mollie has also been volunteering since she was five years old!

Bronze medals went to Blaine Day and Arron Sharp.

In the Volunteer of the Year category the gold award went to Denise Oates. Denise is mum to Colin Oates but is also Eastern Area Chairperson. Her efforts over the last 12 months have resulted in the area playing host to the National Kata championships as well as other competitions.

Adrian Treveil won silver and bronze went to Beth Wood of South Shields Judo Club and Lisa Harrison.

And the final winner of the night was the association’s former Chairman Densign White, who received the President’s Award, sponsored by Perkins Slade Insurance from BJA President George Kerr for his outstanding services to judo.                                                                                                                 

Densign served as Chairman of the BJA from 2001 to 2012 in which time the organisation experienced huge growth.

He enjoyed a successful sporting career winning a bronze medal and representing Great Britain at three Olympic Games.

In addition, he also held the role of Sports Director at the European Judo Union and is a commission member for the International Judo Federation. He is currently the technical delegate for Judo at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

At the AGM earlier in the day, Roy Inman stepped down as Director of the BJA at the end of his term of office. He was also appointed by BJA Council as Vice-President.

On the evening he was recognised for his services to judo and achievements in the sport over the years.

Following the dinner and award presentations, the dance floor and casino area opened up for guests to enjoy.

Winning reactions

Andy Phelps, Chairman of Patchway Judo Club, the club that picked up silver for Club of the Year, along with a gold for club members Reece Peacock and silver for Molly Finn in the category of young volunteer, said:

“Receiving the silver club of the year award is a lovely acknowledgement to the efforts of our team; all our players, coaches and other club volunteers for making our club what it is ‘a family club aspiring to make our members the best they can be.

“We have been concentrating on developing our youth players. To have Reece receive gold and Mollie the silver young volunteer awards as well as Alex receiving silver young volunteer in 2012, we must be doing something right!”

Gary Currier, Club President of Northbrook Judo Club, which won Club of the Year said:

“We at Northbrook Judo Club are overwhelmed with the success of our win at the awards, this being the second ‘Club of the Year’ that we’ve won (first in 2011).

“It shows that the hard work our members, volunteers and coaches have put in has not gone in vain.

“We are not a competition orientated club, however we do have a structured programme to include all members of the club and in the community with our ‘fighting chance and school links’ that enables all abilities to take part in judo, not just contest focused and the elites.

“We are delighted in our achievement and will look to improve upon this success for years to come!”

Sarah Newbury, who won the Volunteer of the Year said:

“I am very honoured, grateful and feel rather undeserving to have received this award. I absolutely love what I do and am proud to be a member of a club that has given me and many others the opportunity to develop as an official.”

Beth Wood, of South Shields Judo Club who won the silver award in the Volunteer of the Year category, said:

“It was an amazing evening it was an honour to be nominated and I would like to thank the people who took the time to nominate myself, especially six year old Alfie. I was also so proud of my sister Jill west who won the Event Volunteer category after over 30 years of volunteering it was great for her to be recognised.

Carol Leverton, who won bronze in the Referee of the Year category said:

“It was a great evening and it was great to wear a dress instead of a judogi.

“It was a wonderful experience at a fantastic venue and a chance to catch up with people I haven’t seen for a long time. It was good to feel appreciated and to get an award.”

Words by Donna Richardson.