The cream of Berwickshire sportsmen and women were honoured at a special ceremony held in Duns Golf Club on Friday evening.
The annual Berwickshire Sports Awards, hosted by ClubSport Berwickshire, recognised the achievements of the district’s top competitors in a variety of sports ranging from fishing and boxing to swimming and rugby.
The main award, for Berwickshire’s 2015 Sports Personality of the Year, went to Chirnside swimmer Richard Adams.
In 2009 Richard was diagnosed with a pre-Leukaemia condition - Retrograde Anaemia with excessive blast cells (RAEB) - and a year later he underwent a major bone marrow transplant.
After his re-hab and recovery Richard was desperate to get back training again and in 2013 he remarkably completed the Great North Open Water Swim, but the best was yet to come after his wife Jackie noticed an article about the Transplant Games.
In 2014 Richard entered the British Transplant Games in Bolton and won gold, silver and bronze medals and he was then invited to train with the Great Britain squad at Warwick University in Coventry for the World Transplant Games which were held just recently in Mardel Plaza in Argentina.
Richard swam superbly to win the 50m breaststroke gold. He also won silver in the 100m breaststroke and bronze in the 400m freestyle. He finished fifth in the 200m freestyle. And - amazingly - he finished ninth in the 5k walk!
Richard also won two golds, a silver and a bronze at the British Transplant Games at Gateshead this year and at the Scottish Masters Swimming Championships at Tollcross - open to all swimmers - Richard won gold in the 400m freestyle, silver in the 200m breaststroke and bronze in the 50m breaststroke.
Richard is now in training for next weekend’s Scottish Masters 1500m freestyle at Tollcross and is aiming to win gold again at the World Transplant Games in Spain in 2017.
Junior Sports Personality of the year is swimmer, Toby Douglas, a member of Duns Amateur Swimming Club.
In 2013, Toby, from Foulden, qualified for the Scottish Youth Development Squad. Support from the Athlete Support Programme, along with financial support from Club Sport Berwickshire, has made a dramatic difference to Toby’s 2014-2015 season.
The season started relatively slowly due to a shoulder injury requiring sustained physiotherapy provided locally through Leanne Gillie from Eyemouth. Regaining strength became critical and again local support was available through Bruce Miller focussing on core strength and conditioning at Putton Mill. All this paid dividends and Toby went on to win gold and silver medals in the Edinburgh International and three silver medals at the Scottish National age groups.
Early January kicked off with one goal in mind, the British Open Championships in the National Aquatic Centre at the Olympic Park in London. In April Toby and his coach Neil Tait made the journey to London to realise their dreams. Finishing sixth in the 100 freestyle and ninth in the 50 freestyle the final goal had been completed and the dreams had become reality. Toby also went on to achieve his Scottish youth squad time gaining access to the sports institute.
The 2015-2016 season has started well with a silver in the 200 freestyle at the Sainsbury School Games in Manchester.
The coveted Coach of the Year Award went to Stephen and Leeann Ross, the driving force behind the very successful Chirnside Chasers.
Stephen and Leeann began a weekly beginners walk/jog group on a Tuesday night with the emphasis on encouraging new people into running and a weekly intermediate group on a Wednesday night for the more competitive runners.
Word spread beyond just the boundaries of Chirnside and after only a few months, the adult groups were averaging attendance of around 30 runners over the two nights each week.
The runners ranged in age and ability from teenagers to veterans and from runners who run sub 40 minutes for a 10k to those who are completely new to the sport.
Now it is not uncommon for 50 kids to turn up on a Monday night, 50-60 adult/kids on a Tuesday night and 25 at the Wednesday session.
In 2013 the club became a fully affiliated club with Scottish Athletics and in the last two years the club has continued their progression achieving the foundation mark through Scottish Athletics signifying the club’s commitment to being a safe, effective, child friendly athletics club. Then in April 2015 the club received three year funding through Sports Scotland allowing the club to create the role of a development officer.
Leeann is now employed part time by Scottish Athletics with the remit to develop athletics right across the Berwickshire area and now works closely with the local schools.
Junior Coach of the Year is Erin King from Hutton.
Erin helped with the hockey for the younger years at Berwickshire High before leaving this year to go to Heriot Watt University. She has been a young coach for Active Schools summer camp and assisted with the Para-Olympic day at the high school. She has also been involved as a volunteer at the tennis club taking sessions for primary age children on a Saturday morning.
Berwickshire High School’s badminton squad won the Team of the Year Award.
Berwickshire High School now has the honour of becoming the first school in the Borders to win Scottish School Badminton Union (SSBU) Gibb Memorial Quaich. The team which came away with the trophy included Eugene Stokes (boys’ captain), Molly MacDonald (girls’ captain), Callum Smith, Kiera Waddell, Euan Taylor, Abbie Nicol, Kyle Mitchell and Beth Weir.
The Service to Local Sport (male) award went to Duns ERFC stalwart Derek Simpson.
Derek played for Duns RFC from 1981 to 1991, and is one of a select band of players to have represented the club at all senior playing levels. He was Second XV captain in 1988/89.
He has held all three roles of fixture secretary, match secretary and referee secretary continuously since 1988 and this is currently his 28th season in those jobs.
Derek was elected as president in 1991 and became the youngest club president in Scotland at the age of 31. His first spell as president lasted for four years and he was elected to the position again in 1998/99 and had a third speell in the post from 2005-05.
In 2009, in recognition of his many years of service to the club, he was elected as honorary president.
Upon the retirement of the previous club secretary in 2008, Derek agreed to fill in until a replacement could be found and eight years later he still holds that post.
Derek has also done all player registration work for the last 10 seasons, he writes match reports for the Berwickshire News, he is the club statistician - a role for which his job as an accountant suits him perfectly.
Until the last couple of seasons he was touch judge at every First XV game, and can still be found on match days putting out the flags, filling the water bottles, and picking dirty strips off the changing room floor after matches.
The Service to Local Sport (female) award went to Fiona Hodge from Houndwood.
Fiona’s love of sport, especially the racquet sports of badminton and tennis, started at Berwickshire High School in the early 70s and continued at university.
In 1979, as a teacher at Burnmouth primary School she coached the pupils, started to help Peter Hardie at Duns Badminton Club with the under 16s and helped him with the Borders Squad and the Sports Academy. She also travelled to major competitions in Ashington and Gateshead over many years with Duns Badminton Club.
Fiona was also on the Berwick and District Badminton League committee and helped run tournaments in both Berwickshire and north Northumberland.
It is probably fair to say that although Fiona has been a very successful coach at badminton, tennis is her first love and she worked with the Duns Tennis Club’s Under 16s for many years helping build up a fantastic club which won the Border Junior League on many occasions.
Fiona was also junior match secretary for the Borders for many years.
Fiona also ran the Berwickshire High School’s boys and girls tennis teams. This job she offered to do so that tennis players in the school could compete at the highest level in both the Border Schools and Scottish Schools tennis championships. Both Derek and Fiona were also presented with awards from the Scottish Association of Local Sports Council’s (SALSC).
Several special achievement awards were also presented to the following:
Ellenor Gracey (swimming) - Ellenor, from Swinton, reached her first Scottish School finals in Aberdeen in January representing The Berwickshire High School. Her target for the coming season was to make the British Championships and British Summer Championships in Sheffield and possibly National Development Squad. Unfortunately this wasn’t to be as Ellenor was diagnosed with an illness in February just before the start of the qualification window. She is currently ranked fifth for her age group in Scotland for the 50m freestyle.
Keira Waddell (javelin) - The Duns teenager has rounded off a remarkable first season in athletics by being ranked Scotland’s best javelin thrower in her age group. She broke the Berwickshire High School record for her age, won the gold medal at the Scottish Athletics East of Scotland Championships, again for the under 15 age group, and now leads the Scottish rankings for her age in javelin.
George White (boxing) - The young Eyemouth southpaw won his first ever fight at the age of 10 earlier this year in the East District Championships at Danderhall in the 30kg category. He then won the prestigious Scottish Schoolboys title at Ravenscraig in Motherwell in March. He has had six fights now and won five.
Callum Smith (badminton) - Callum, from Greenlaw, has had an amazing season winning 16 titles in total from Scottish domestic, English Gold series, international and national titles. His biggest achievements in the 2014/15 season had to be winning the triple at the Scottish Nationals taking the singles, doubles and mixed titles with his partners from Glasgow Kenneth Cheung and Alice Campbell, a first for a Borders player.
Keith Renton (fly fishing) - Keith, from Leitholm, was Team Scotland’s top rod at the World Fly Fishing Championships, held in Bosnia between June 15-21. Scotland finished 17th out of the 33 national teams competing, and Keith was Scotland’s best performer. He is also a veteran of two European Championships with Scotland, and is now looking at qualifying for the 2016 championships to be held in Colorado.
Joyce Mark (Triathlon) - Joyce, from Eyemouth, won the European age group triathlon title in Geneva for the fourth year in a row. Joyce then finished a superb sixth in the World Championships in Chicago last month. She has been competing in local triathlons this year and has already qualified for next year’s European Championships in Lisbon and the World Championships in Mexico.