Mill Hill Club played host to a packed audience as the Club celebrated the performances of the athletes over the previous year with Awards in thirty two categories.
Guest Presenter was Ben Fish who was introduced by Club Chairman Tony Wood. Tony highlighted Ben’s achievements since being a youngster with the Club and improving to the point where he has won International recognition by being selected to run for England. He also pointed to Ben’s exemplary commitment to the Club and to the Team.
Special mention also to Richard Taylor and Lee Thompson who did such a lot of work to make the evening the success that it was.
There were two quite moving Awards on the night for long standing Members of the Club. Firstly, athletes in the Hurdles Training Group awarded their own Trophy to their Coach Bob Groves in recognition of all that he had done for them over the years. Oliver Aspden spoke about the Groups respect and admiration for him on behalf of all the other Hurdlers.
The second Award went to George Woodburn. This was an Award that is made by the Club Committee and is in recognition of an individual’s contribution to the Club. George has been a member of the club since his days as a teenager in the 60s and along with Chris Fay is the longest
serving member of the club still competing – he has now spanned a number of generations but it is safe to say that he has competed for the club more times over a lifetime than any other athlete that has ever competed for Blackburn Harriers – quite an accolade.
Although George will as always be modest about his achievements they are considerable especially when you consider his times – 30 min 10k 50min 10miles 2.26 marathons sub 15min track 5ks and low 9 min s/c times. He used to compete in the huge invitational events that George Kirby presented at Witton in the 60s, part of the British league teams of the 70s along with fellow endurance athletes such as John Calvert & Harry Walker. Blackburn has been his only club – a loyal servant to say the least. In the 80s he excelled on the road and was there on our many trips to London, Bourton on the Water, Dieppe and Brugge – happy days George
And now a coach and as keen as ever to add to his time as team manager, committee member and general friend to everybody interested in athletics and particularly for Blackburn Harriers George joined Blackburn Harriers in March 1964 and had competed for the Club in every one of those years and is still doing so today which is a magnificent 50 year unbroken commitment to the Club. He is also heavily involved with coaching at the Club and is down on all Training nights and attends fixtures to support the athletes. A richly deserved award.
Awards were made in thirty three categories all judged against a set of criteria which included Graded performances. The Junior Squad Trophy which has boys and girls nominated by the Sportshall Group of Coaches included Kieran Carroll, Harry Singh and George Whittaker with the winner for the Boys being Harry Singh.
For the girls the nominations included Myah Booth, Chloe Jameson and Eleesha Charnley with the winner being Eleesha Charnley.
The U11 Endurance Award given to recognise the efforts of the junior endurance athletes particularly during the 2013-14 cross country season was won by Amy Davies for the Girls and Jamie Teare for the Boys.
Junior Team Contribution to Track and Field an award goes to the junior athlete that has competed in most Club fixtures through the 2014 Track and Field season with a combination of UKYDL, Mid Lancs and Lancs Champs used to decide the nominations and eventual winner. Nominations for the Boys were Jacob Roberts, Nick Massey, Cameron Massey and Daniel Brown with Joint winners Cameron Massey and Jacob Roberts.
Nomination for the Girls were Emily Warren, Eloise Littlefair and Charlotte Williams with Eloise Littlefair being the winner and her Coach Jim Kerrigan picking up her Trophy as she wasn’t able to attend.
The Junior Merit Award was presented to athletes new to the UKYDL who have impressed their respective team managers and coaches throughout the season. Winners were Huzaifa Hanif, Emily Raine and Olivia Blow.
The Award Senior Contribution to Track & Field goes to the athlete that has competed in most Club fixtures through the 2014 Track and Field season with a combination of Northern Senior League, Mid Lancs and Lancs Champs. Men’s nominations included Dominic Bretherton, Oliver Aspden, Tony Balko and Joseph Howe and the Women’s Phoebe Howe, Beckie Taylor, Polly Pearse , Sarah Henton and Rebecca Sullivan. The Men’s Winner was Oliver Aspden and the Women’s Phoebe Howe.
Junior Team Contribution to Cross Country goes to the Junior athlete that has competed in most club XC fixtures through the season. Red Rose and Mid Lancs Leagues, Lancs, Northern and National Champs are used to calculate and Champs to decide in the event of a tie. Nominations for the Boys were Rory Teare, Jamie Teare and Edward Lee and for the Girl’s Amy Davies, Megan Clarkson, Liz Greenwood and Hannah Cookson. The Boy’s was won jointly by Jamie & Rory Teare and the Girls by Megan Clarkson.
In the Senior Category for Team Contribution to Cross Country the Men’s nominations were Allan Hartley, John Cookson and Ian Clarkson and in the Women’s Sara Toms, Helen Leigh and Jackie Taylor…….Allan Hartley being the Winner for the Men and Helen Leigh for the Women.
The Award for Most Promising Athlete highlights athletes that are usually new to the Harriers or just starting with the juniors and have started to make good progress through training and competing regularly and particularly look to have great prospects ahead for them. The Awards were made for U13/U15 Boys and Girls and U17/U20 Men and Women with Nicholas Maseey winning the U13/U15 Boys – Emily Warren in the U13/U15 Girls – Ross Liddle in the U17/U20 Men and Olivia Brooks in the U17/U20 Women.
Most Improved Young Athlete is an Award which recognises established juniors who have really made a step up in their level of training and performance in the last year in the U13/U15 & U17/U20 Age categories. Winners of this Award were Jacob Roberts who In 2 years has gone from a rookie endurance runner to top ranked Hammer thrower. He has finished the season ranked 6th in the UK with a throw of 51.22m which is an improvement from 21.35m last season iin his debut year at Hammer. He’s also pretty good at Shot and Discus and has just started out with Pole Vault. Jacob is a great example of how hard work and commitment can take you a long way and the club are certain that he still has further to go .
Charlotte Williams won the Girl’s in the U13/U15’s and she has had a great season in her 2nd year. She can sprint, hurdle, jump and throw. It is her throwing where she has excelled with a 27.51m Discus to rank her 8th in the UK, a debut 24.27m Hammer for 10th in the UK and her 8.91m Shot is also highly ranked.
Joseph Monk who won the U17/U20’s is a young endurance runner who prefers the road which is unusual for a young athlete, but his perfomances have been excellent. 16:41 for 5K and a 34:26 for 10K which ranks him 12th in the UK. They are times many seasoned seniors would be pleased with. His 5K time is an improvement of over a minute and the club feels Joe has great potential and will become a key member of our senior squad as he progresses.
Winner in the Women ‘s U17/U20’s was Morgan Angland who specialises in hurdling so making a direct comparison of her improvement from U15 to U17 isn’t straightforward. But Morgan has achieved significant improvements at 100m, 200m and particularly at Long Jump where she has gone from 4.62m to 5.10m which demonstrates how much she has come on in the last 12 months. She also won 2 x Bronze medals at the Northern Champs in the 80H and Long Jump.
Outstanding Junior Commitment is an Award which goes to athletes that have shown commitment and application beyond what would normally be expected in order to improve themselves or support their team mates. Again these are made in the U13/U15 and U17/U20 Age Groups. The winners were Cameron Massey who Cameron has already demonstrated his commitment to competition for both the club and his individual targets having taken the Team Contribution award and reached the English Schools T&F Champs. But his commitment to training is also exemplary as he tries to improve at a range of events as a young multi-eventer.
Esme Pearse who has impressed the coaches and team managers this year with her commitment to the team and her efforts to improve in a wide variety of Track and Field disciplines. She has achieved PB’s in hurdles, 800m, High Jump, Long Jump and even went as far as to make up the Cross Country team at the County Champs last January and help them to a team silver.
Paul Coffey who this season made great progress whilst having to deal with personal tragedy. In terms of team commitment, Paul took part in all 16 of the possible Club fixtures during 2014 – the only member of the club to do that. He improved his PBs to 11.2 for 100m and 22.7 for 200m. He has trained consistently through the year in order to do that and thoroughly deserves recognition for his commitment.
Grace Handley who took the U13/U15 Commitment award last year and continues to impress with her application and contribution. Despite Grace having a difficult second half of the year caused mainly through growth related niggles, she has remained fully committed to the club and her athletics.Grace has been a key athlete for both the UKYDL and Senior T&F Teams as well as last seasons U15 Girls XC team helping them to a Northern Bronze Medal and Mid-Lancs Team Title. Grace became Lancashire XC Champion in January.
In the Club Running Award Shaun Livesey was the Men’s Winner who has been a tremendous person to have around the squad since he joined Blackburn. He trains hard, competes hard and lifts everyone with his positive approach. He has achieved a great deal personally in the last year having recorded a 10K PB towards the end of 2013, Shaun took that in to 2014 and set new PBs at Half Marathon, 20 miles and to finish a Marathon PB of 2:44.40 at the Berlin Marathon.
The Women’s Winner was Rachel Wood – Rachel missed a club place for the London Marathon last year in the club draw that takes place. So she went out and ran a PB of 84:30 at the Gosport HM to earrn an automatic place at London. She unfortunately couldn’t run the marathon in the end, but has recorded some great times at 10K and 10 miles and in addition won the Luton Half Marathon in 87 minutes.
The Club Fell Running Award Winners were Gary Pearse and Helen Leigh. Gary has countless fell races to his name in the last year. He’s our most prolific fell runner and has achieved some great results at widely differing venues from the 3.4 mile Kelbrook to the 24 mile Three Peaks where he achieved another sub 4 hour result. Gary also lead the Harriers efforts at the recent fell relays, team managing, co-ordinating the course recces and on the day management where Blackburn put out 3 teams for the first time. Gary deserves hiis award for his racing efforts but also his work in promoting Fell Running within the Club and promoting the Club within Fell Running.
Since Helen returned to the club a couple of years ago after years of injuries she has been a great addition for our improving ladies squad. The fells are where she is most at home and Helen has tackled some tough races this year including English Champs events and Snowdon. But perhaps her best race was at the Three peaks where she succeeded in beating her target of 4 hours with a 3:55.27 for 8th place, the fastest ever time by a Blackburn ladyand also lead the ladies team to 2nd place overall – a great achievement against many fell specialist clubs.
There were four nominations Andy Buttery, Mike Hazlewood, Matt Nuttall and Shaun Livesey in the Best Veteran’s Award with Matt Nuttall coming out as the Winner. In the women’s the Winner was Sarah Henton. Sarah doesn’t compete as a VET. She is still of such a high standard that she contests the Open Championship events up to National level. But as a Vet Sarah is ranked 9th for Hammer, 6th for Javelin, 2nd for Shot and 1st in the UK for Discus and so is by a long way our leading VET lady athlete.
Blackburn Harriers have a number of triathletes within the club and this award recognises their achievements. Inaugural Winner was Brian Fogarty. In 2014 Brian has won the National Duathlon Title which involves the run and bike elements of Triathlon. He’s had some great results in
other Duathlon and Triathlon events with the Ironman being his ultimate target. Brian has competed in 3 Ironman Triathlons to a very high level. 4th/319 in age Group at Ironman UK, 21/376 at Ironman Austria in a great time of 9:16 and then 42nd in age group at the World Ironman in Hawaii
Ben Aspinall, Connor Makin, Joseph Pearse and Cameron Massey were all nominated for Best Junior All Round Track and Field Performance and Polly Pearse, Morgan Angland, Eloise Littlefair and Esme Pearse in the Girls. Boy’s Winner was Joseph Pearse who continues to be our leading Junior Multi Event athlete, but the pack are closing in on him. Joe took the Lancashire Title, went on to be 2nd in the North West and competed with credit at the end of season English Schools Combined events even if a little jaded at the end of a long season; And in the Girls it was Polly Pearse who again has been our strongest Junior multi-eventer but as multi-events grows in the club, like her brother she is finding more competition pushing her on from within the club. Polly continues to train well and is an asset to the club at all levels.
Oliver Aspden won the Men’s Best Senior All Round Track and Field Performance and is without doubt our best Senior all round athlete in 2014. Sprinting 100m up to 400m, Sprint Hurdles, Long Hurdles, High, Long & Triple Jump; Oliver excels in them all and he is a great asset to the Northern Senior Team and the club.
In the Women’s there were Joint Winners from the four nominations of Katie Buckingham, Sophie Taylor, Roxanne Oliver and Rebecca Sullivan. Katie Buckingham and Roxanne Oliver were Joint Winners. Roxanne and Katie are so evenly matched on this year’s efforts that it is impossible to split them. Roxanne has the edge over the sprint distances and Katie over the endurance events but it really is too close to call. They receive this award jointly for their efforts in the wide range of events they have contested throughout the season.
The Best Junior Field Performances in U13/U15 and U17/U20 Age Groups were won by Jacob Roberts for his U15B Hammer 51.22 metres to rank 6th in UK; Charlotte Williams for her U13G Discus 27.51 metres to rank 8th in the UK and a new Club Record; Joseph Pearse for his U20M 1.96m High Jump and only 2cm off the Grade 1 height and Rebecca Orrell for her U17W 47.92 Hammer and Club Records at both 3K and 4K Hammer.
The Best Senior Female Field Performance of 2014 went to Sophie Hitchon – 71.53m for Hammer.
Sophie did send a message to the Club which can be seen HERE.
Winners of the Best Junior Track Performance also calculated against the Grade 1 for each event were U13/U15 Boys Cameron Massey (11.9 80mH – Grade 1); U13/U15 Girls Emily Warren (U13 Girls 20.8 150m – just 0.1 secs off a Grade 1) ; U17/U20 Men Archie Braysford (U17 Men 11.2 100m – Grade 1) and U17/U20 Women Elizabeth Greenwood (U17 Women 10:25 3000m – Grade 2).
Winners of the Best Senior Track Performance also calculated against the Grade 1 for each event were Paul Bradshaw for his 1:51.26 800m – Grade 1 and Alison Leonard for her 2:00.8 800m – Grade 1, Club Record and 4th in the UK Rankings. Paul couldn’t be at the Presentation and sent a written message to the Club which was read out by Chairman Tony Wood.
Alison who is in Kenya training also sent a message which can be heard HERE.
Alison Leonard also took the Arthur Almond memorial Trophy which is a new award, donated to the club by Sylvia Almond and to be awarded to the Best Track Performance each year.
Best Schools Championship Performance of the Year Award was won for the Boys jointly by Joseph Pearse and Connor Makin (Both 7th in Final at the ES Schools T&F Champs – their Hurdles Coach Bob Groves collected their Awards) – and Rebecca Orrell (8th in Final at the ES Schools T&F Champs).
The Winner of the Award for Excellence in Road Running was won by Ben Fish. This award is given to an athlete assessed to have produced a top standard road performance or consistantly high level of performances during the year. Ben won the Liverpool Marathon, Freckleton and Ashbourne HM’s as well as several other notable wins and high placings. Possibly his best race is the 24:46 win at Rivington over 5 miles which places him 23rd nationally on what is almost certainly a tougher course than the 23 ranked above him.
The Men and Women’s Winners for the Award for Excellence in Fell Running and given to an athlete assessed to have produced a top standard fell performance or consistantly high level of performances during the year went to Jack Hindle for his England Vest x 2 and FRA National U18 Boys Champs 3rd and Elizabeth Greenwood for her England Vest x 2 and FRA National U16 Girls Champs winner.
Karl Billington won the Mens Award for Excellence in Track and Field with his 14:30 PB for 5K on track at Watford and BUCS 3000m indoor Bronze. Holly Bleasdale was the Winner of the Women’s Award for her outstanding 4.73m Pole Vault to take the British Indoor title in February. Holly who has recently married Paul Bradshaw was unable to attend because of Training and sent a written message to the Club which was read out on the night. Karl was at St Mary’s and was disappointed that he couldn’t be there on the night – George Davies picked up his Award on his behalf.
See Paul & Holly’s wedding HERE
We have so many high performers at the club now that sometimes incredible feats may not get recognised. These awards enable the club to recognise those achievements. Two Awards for Special Achievement were won by Rebecca Sullivan who won the Northern Senior indoor High Jump Title in January and Sarah Henton for her 4th place and seasons best at throw at the UK Champs.
An Award for Outstanding Achievement was made to Samantha Murray who has had a fabulous year. Sam who Having joined Blackburn Harriers in 2006 to help restore her running career she began to really flourish at modern pentathlon culminating in international selection and becoming a member of team GB. In 2012 she won a bronze in the world championships in Rome and within months won that fantastic silver medal for Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics the last medal awarded on the last day the 65th for Great Britain. Accolades and media appearances followed – only last week she appeared on Radio Five live alongside Rebecca Adlington Olympic gold medalist in the pool in an hour long interview on women in sport issues and Sam had some forthright views in support of Jessica Ennis Hills stance over at Sheffield United. This had followed her biggest triumph this year. Sam was crowned world modern pentathlon champion after victory in Warsaw beating the Chinese pair Chen and Liang to take gold in the Polish capital. It included a new pentathlon world record as she won the 200m freestyle swim in a time of 2min 03.84sec. Her victory makes her the fourth British woman to achieve the feat following Wendy Norman, Steph Cook and Mhairi Spence. There was also further success as her efforts helped Britain to win the silver medal in the team competition along with team-mates Kate French and Freyja Prentice.
The Club Championship Awards are perpetual Awards and go to the Male and Female winners from their best 7 results from 12 Champs events and an award is also presented to the handicap winner. Chris Davies was the Male Winner – Helen Leigh the Female Winner – John Cookson the Male Handicap Winner and Helen Leigh for a second time with the Female Handicap Winner.
International Awards were made to recognise our increasing number of athletes that have represented the country at international level during the year. Awards were made to Alison Heonard – Sophie Hitchon – Holly Bleasdale – Jack Hindle and Elizabeth Greenwood.
The Young Athlete of the Year Award goes to the junior athlete who has performed to the highest standards during the year and this year the Male Winner was Ben Aspinall and the Female Winner Rebecca Orrell.
Ben has set PB’s at 9 events this year + further bests at events that are new to him this season. He trains with great commitment. He’s a fantastic team player valued greatly by the team managers in both UKYDL and Northern League. He is without doubt turning in to a multi-eventer, but Triple and Long Jump are his specialist events and he has progressed to 6.35m for Long Jump and a fantastic 13.47m Triple Jump. Ben also took Bronze in the Northern Champs. Ben deserves this award for his high level of achievement and his committed and serious approach. He’s a great example for others at the club.
Rebecca works extremely hard to improve at her favoured event of Hammer. She demonstrates to all that you get out of it what you put in. Rebecca has also shown that an athlete can achieve personal goals whilst also putting it in for the team. She has been an ever present at Northern League and UKYDL, never shirking from taking part in the other throws events and often a relay leg. At the same time she has won County Titles, a Northern Silver and a fantastic 8th at the English Schools Final. Rebecca has come along way since her U13 days and the club feels she still has further to go and look forward to supporting her progress.
Athlete of the Year presented for the senior athlete who has performed to the highest standards during the year was won by Oliver Aspden and Sophie Hitchon.
Oliver was a great performer for the club in the League this year competitng in all 4 League fixtures and the play-off. Ollie has recorded 11.2 for 100m, 22.6 for200m, 51.4 for 400m, 8.93 for 60H indoors, 1.80m for High Jump, 6.17m Long Jump and 8.07m for Shot. That’s 7 PBs. But he also attained another PB of 15.3 for 110H just a frazzle off the club record with his highlight being his 54.5 400H for a new PB and Senior Club Record.
Sophie became British Hammer Champion in June, Sophie competed with great credit for GB at the European Championships, European Team Championships and the highlight was a Bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games representing England.
The final Award of the evening was for the Round Chase Trophy. Within the club we have various teams and squads. This award recognises the greatest achievement during the year amongst those sub groups at Blackburn Harriers. This year the Award was won by the Senior Endurance Squad.
The year has been a good one for the Senior Endurance squad with Promotion for the men and VET men in the Mid Lancs Cross Country League, High Placings in prestigious Fell events such as the Three Peaks and taking the Lancashire XC Titles for Open and VET Men. The Ladies also mirrored that with 2nd place in the Three Peaks and strong XC showing at the Mid Lancs and 2nd at the Lancs Champs. But the highlight was the Northern 12 & 6 Stage in March where the Mens and Ladies Squads came together for a fantastic day. 3 Men’s Team of 12 and 2 Ladies Teams of
6. The Men’s A Team were 9th, one of the clubs highest ever finishes. The Men’s B Team were 39th overall, but the leading B Team ahead of some notable others including Sale and Gateshead as well as many A teams. The ladies finished 15th despite a couple of late dropouts and again one of
the Clubs highest finishes. It was great to see so many out from BBH and we had more athletes competing that day than any other club.