Borders sporting greats honoured at awards extravaganza

Celebration of Sport Awards.
Celebration of Sport Awards.

Former Gala and Scotland full-back Peter Dods is the latest inductee to the Scottish Borders Sporting Hall of Fame.

The 1984 Grand Slam winner was guest of honour at the ‘Celebration of Sport’ event held in the Cardrona Hotel, Peebles, and hosted by BBC sports presenter Alison Walker.

“It is a great honour to be recognised by the Borders people,” Dods said, “and though it is a long time ago now there are still times most days when I think back to that Grand Slam, and some of the great memories I have of playing for Scotland.

“This was a wonderful event and great to see so many amazing sporting talents coming from such a small part of Scotland. We have always punched above our weight in the Borders and it’s great to see that continuing with the amount of talent in different sports.”

Promising sailor Callum Airlie from Westruther, one of the surprise group of young athletes chosen to light the Olympic cauldron in London last year, was recognised at the event with an ‘Inspirational Performance’ award, while the Borders’ first born-and-bred Olympic gold medallist, showjumper Scott Brash, collected a ‘World Achievement Award’.

Borders Sport and Leisure this year took on the organisation of the event, launched nearly 20 years ago by the James McLean Trust as part of the legacy left by the late director of education.

BSLT chairman David Ferguson said: “This was always an enjoyable, positive event that acted like a shining beacon for Borders sport through the commitment of the James McLean Trust.

“Since it ended two years ago we have worked hard to find the resources to bring it back, and with the organisation of ambitious BSLT staff, and support from sponsors GB Telecom and The Southern Reporter, Wendy McLean and her family, and Scottish Borders Council we were delighted to be able to launch a new ‘Celebration of Sport’.

“The public played their part with several thousand votes cast for nominees, and it was great to see so many sportspeople and their families represented at the first event at Cardona. We are confident that it will grow to again become a fantastic celebration of the depth and quality of sport in this incredibly rich area and help to inspire future generations.”

Another former Gala and Scotland rugby player, Chris Paterson, the most-capped male rugby player who retired last year, won the public vote for ‘Sports Personality of the Year’ while British junior judo champion Abby Blackie picked up the ‘Junior Sports Personality of the Year’.

The Peebles Netball Club, a club of teenage girls, won the ‘Team of the Year’ after sweeping up a series of Scottish Youth, District and Schools titles at various age-groups last year, and producing new internationalists, and the ‘Tour of Britain’ cycle race, which brought Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish through Jedburgh and into local schools, was voted the ‘Sporting Event of the Year’.

Leading Scottish judo coach Peter Gardiner was voted ‘Coach of the Year’, blind sprinter Libby Clegg won the ‘Disability Sports Performance of the Year’, schools hockey coach Mary Weir, from Duns, picked up the ‘Unsung Hero’ trophy and the ‘Club of the Year’ award went to Gala Harriers, the athletics club that has grown to over 200 members, launched disabled coaching, won countless national and international honours and produced internationalists as well as simply creating a terrific focus for running for all ages around the Borders.

The event concluded with a Q&A with Jim Telfer, the successful Scotland and British and Irish Lions coach, and Jim Fleeting, the SFA’s director of coaching, who both praised the variety of success in Borders sport.

Telfer added: “It is not only the team sports like rugby and football that we do well in, but we have tremendous talent in individual sports that people don’t hear about as much.

“It was a pleasure to be part of the event. I applaud all the nominees for their efforts and hope that nights like this continue to reveal what exists here, supports it and inspires people to believe that they can achieve too.”

Gordon Brown, GB Telecom commented; “Everyone at GB Telecom would like to say a huge well done to all the nominees and winners of the Celebration of Sport Awards on Friday night. It was a great event and a fantastic showcase for the diverse range of sporting achievement from across the Scottish Borders. We were delighted to have been the main sponsor of the event.”

Ewan Jackson chief executive of Borders Sport and Leisure concluded: “The Celebration of Sport Awards was a wonderful showcase of the sporting talent that exists in the Scottish Borders

“ I’d like to thank everyone who was involved in making this event such a success and especially GB telecom for their sponsorship support.

“As an organisation Borders Sport and Leisure is committed to continuing to improve and develop access to sporting opportunities for everyone in our region and we are already looking forward to next year’s event.”