THE winners of the Active Essex Sports Awards 2018 were crowned at an inspiring awards ceremony which celebrated sporting achievements from grassroots to professional level.
Double Olympic gymnastics champion Max Whitlock was on hand to help recognise individuals and organisations that have made outstanding contributions to sport and physical activity in Greater Essex over the past 12 months.
England Netball captain Jo Harten, from Harlow, won the coveted Sports Personality of the Year award after leading her country to Commonwealth Games glory with a dramatic victory over Australia earlier this year. Jo, who was unable to attend but in a video message played to the audience, said: “I can’t quite believe I’ve been voted Active Essex Sports Personality of the Year. To win this award in the company of Alastair Cook and Hannah Stodel (both shortlisted) is really something quite special.
“2018 has been the year of my life in terms of netball. Team England won gold at the Commonwealth Games and we competed in the Quad Series and other international events.”
“I’d like to congratulate everyone who was nominated – sorry I couldn’t make it. Congratulations to the whole of Essex for a great year.”
The Disabled Sports Personality of the Year was won by Freya Levy. Freya from Rochford, represents the UK and England in Rugby sevens and scored her first international try on her debut game in France in April.
Meanwhile, Max Whitlock, a previous multiple winner at the awards ceremony, presented the Young Personality of the Year award to Ottilie Robinson-Shaw,
the Tendring teenage flyer who struck gold at last year’s Freestyle Kayak World Championships.
Max said: “It was great to be part of another fantastic night of deserved recognition for Essex’s favourite sporting stars. I know first-hand just how much it means to receive such fantastic acknowledgement for all your hard work and effort at events like these.
“It is very important to celebrate all aspects of sport and physical activity across our county, and I’d like to congratulate all the winners and finalists. Here’s to another 12 months of well-deserved success, at both a grassroots and professional stage.”
Now in their 11th year, the awards recognise the people, clubs, organisations and volunteers who make sport and fitness accessible to people.
With awards ranging from coach of the year to education champion, and active workplace of the year to services to disability sport, the awards showcase how sport and physical activity touch so many aspects of people’s lives.
The Active Workplace of the Year award went to NHS Mid Essex CCG in Chelmsford. The Changing Lives through Sport and Physical Activity award went to Fitness in Mind in Brentwood. The Education Champion of the Year went to Thameside Primary School in Grays and services to inclusive sport went to Sport for Confidence (Basildon).