Witney News - Honours for sports and arts performers

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Honours for sports and arts performers

The Council runs an annual Awards Evening to celebrate the achievement of sporting and arts performers in West Oxfordshire. The following awards, including two new categories for 2009 recognising achievements in the arts, were given:

Arts Person of the Year
Arts Group of the Year
Coach of the Year
Sports Person of the Year
Sports Club of the Year

The Coach of the Year Award went to Chris Hoyles, from Windrush Kick Boxing Club in Witney. Mr Hoyles was nominated for his commitment to his students, who described him as an “inspiration”.

With 29 years of experience in martial arts, Mr Hoyles has gained his fifth Dan, making him a Master. He has been named Coach of the Decade by his own club and has been presented with a Lifetime Achievement and Instructor of the Decade by World United Martial Arts Federation (WUMA).

Many of his students have gained titles at World Championships, including two (Imogen Shayler and Jordan Petersons) who received Higher Achievement Awards from the Council at the Awards evening on Friday.

After receiving Coach of the Year, Mr Hoyles said: “I came here to support my students as I was so pleased for them to be receiving awards, and I was very surprised when my name was read out as winner. I can only say that I am the happiest man in West Oxfordshire tonight.”

Sports Person of the Year went to Graham Kiff, from Witney, who is blind and was the first disabled athlete to represent Great Britain in the Triathlon at the World Championships in Hamburg in September 2007, when he finished in fifth position. Following on from this, in June 2008, Mr Kiff gained silver at the British Disabled National Championships Triathlon in Rotherham. A week later he won the gold medal and title of Blind World Triathlon Champion in the Triathlon World Championships in Vancouver, Canada.

Mr Kiff is involved with Project Viper, which aims to encourage and support participation of visually-impaired athletes in triathlon. Mr Kiff took part in the 2008 London Triathlon with 21 members of the project to raise money for four sight-related charities. He was the only blind athlete out of 10,000 competitors in the race.

North Leigh Football Club, whose First team was promoted into Division One of the South West of the British Gas Business Southern League after being crowned Champions of the Hellenic Premier League for the third time in the last six seasons, won the Sports Club of the Year Award. It is their centenary season and they play a huge role in the local community.

The club has several teams competing at all levels, ranging from boys under 12s and girls under 12s to Men’s First Team. Other achievements over the past year include its First Team reaching the first qualifying round in the FA Trophy and forth round in the FA vase during the 2008/9 season. In April 2008, the club also won the Oxfordshire Senior Cup for the first time in 100 years.

Club Chairman Pete King, who is in his 41st year with the club, said: “At times it can be hard work, but I am very proud of our achievements. There is a lot of dedication from people behind the scenes as well as up front and the club is a hive of activity and plays a big role in the community. I would like to thank West Oxfordshire District Council for recognising the wonderful achievements of the club.”

Doris Simms, from Woodstock, was named Arts Person of the Year in recognition of her 20 years as secretary of The Woodstock Art Group, whose members have joined together to paint and exhibit in the town since 1980. Mrs Simms will retire from her role as secretary this year, although she will continue to be involved in arts in the town.

After receiving her award, Mrs Simms said: “This was an utter surprise and I am very shocked, but very pleased. I would never have expected to receive anything like this.”

The Arts Group of the Year Award went to Carterton-based Acting Community Thingumybogs (ACTS), which has been running since 1994 and has over 60 members of its cast. The group contributes funds from its productions to charity and its most recent pantomime production raised £4,500 for Save the Children.

Founder Member Sue James said: “We have never received an award before, so this is fantastic. It is a real tribute to our group of 64 members who work really hard and are a wonderful team of people. We have a unique group – there are no auditions and no-one is turned away, so if anyone is interested in joining, they would be very welcome.”

A further 29 Sports and Arts Achievement Awards were awarded covering a range of activities such as: dance, music, drama, rugby, cricket, badminton, swimming, hockey, athletics and even skiing.

Of these, six were recognised as achieving excellence:

Josephine Organ-Jennings for music. Josephine wowed the audience in the interval with her opera singing and hopes to become a professional opera singer. She is currently studying at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Flora Cranmer-Perrier for visual art. Flora is studying Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art and hopes to become a curator and continue her work as an artist.
Joel Enoch for Triathlon. Joel has a recent string of successes under his belt and hopes to qualify for World Championships.
Imogen Shayler for Freestyle Kickboxing. Imogen has a long list of achievements from kickboxing championships and is currently Under-16 points team and individual contact World Champion as well as being English Club continuous champion.
Jordan Petersons for freestyle kickboxing. Jordan gained silver at the WUMA World Championships in both individual and team events.

Cllr Hilary Biles, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Tourism and Health, presented the Awards.

She said: “West Oxfordshire District Council chooses to give these awards to encourage our sports and arts people and to give public recognition to individuals showing great promise. We have a wealth of talent in West Oxfordshire. Congratulations to everyone for your dedication to your sport or art. You bring much pleasure to many people. Many of our winners in their applications and nominations wrote about the commitment from parents, clubs, teachers and coaches. I congratulate everyone involved. It really is a team effort even if you compete as an individual.”

Friday marked the 11th anniversary of the Awards.

Posted : 09/03/2009 13:42:22

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