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Sport and wellbeing achievements celebrated at Eastleigh Sports Awards

The inspiring sport and wellbeing achievements of talented local people were recognised at the eleventh annual Eastleigh Sports Awards held at the prestigious ballroom at the Hilton at the Ageas Bowl hotel Monday, on 9 May

The ceremony provided the opportunity to celebrate individual excellence, team achievement, as well as recognising those people who work tirelessly ‘behind the scenes’ to support local talent and provide opportunities for residents to lead an active lifestyle across the Borough. Activities over both 2020 and 2021 were included after the 2021 awards were postponed by the pandemic.

The awards evening was organised by Eastleigh’s Sport and Physical Activity Alliance (SPAA), working in partnership with the Borough Council’s SportWorks team. Lou Gittens, Chair of the Eastleigh SPAA, and Francis Benali MBE, the Alliance’s Official Ambassador, ex-Southampton FC defender and charity fundraiser both spoke in support of the efforts of all nominated.

BBC South Today Sports journalist Andy Moon compered throughout the evening and there were surprise recorded speeches from record breaking and Netflix-famous mountaineer Nims Purja MBE, who lives locally and was recently awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Eastleigh, and Kai Withrington, ex Eastleigh Sports Awards Winner and current Strictly Come Dancing Professional. Hampshire Youth Dance Company, based at The Point Eastleigh, provided the evening’s entertainment with their social commentary piece “The Cabaret”.

Ten category award winners were announced throughout the night. Two of which, Innovation and Health & Wellbeing, were brand new to the event - drawing on the amazing flexible and creative work achieved during the pandemic. There was also a Special Recognition Award for Lou Gittens, ex Olympic High Jumper and retiring chairman of Eastleigh SPAA, in appreciation of her services to developing sport in the Borough.

Lou Gittens said “It’s great to celebrate such a wide range of local achievements. We have so many talented sports people together with so many great volunteers, coaches and supporting schools and projects. Without them we would not be able to produce such fantastic stars in the Borough. I am proud to be amongst the award winners this year as I stand down as Chair of Eastleigh SPAA”

Cabinet Lead for Health, Cllr Tonia Craig, said: “It was a wonderful evening of celebration and great to return to the Hilton to cheer in person. I am always staggered to hear about the number and variety of achievements by local people and the impact this has. It’s important to showcase their efforts and the on-going support for sport and wellbeing in the Borough”

Eastleigh Sports Awards 2022 Winners:

· Volunteer of the Year: Carole Sayles, Baton Twirling

· Club of the Year: Eastleigh Walking Football Club

· Junior Sportsperson: Maria Mitchell, Badminton

· Outstanding Achievement: Toynbee School - Year 7 Boys Football Team

· Senior Sportsperson: David Smith, Boccia

· School of the Year: Hiltingbury Junior School

· Innovation Award: Free Bikes Hampshire UK

· Health & Wellbeing Award: This VI (Visually Impaired) Girl Can, Self Defence and Dance

· Coach of the Year: Stefan Hargrave, Rugby

· Service to Sport: Karen Paling, Gymnastics

Special Recognition Award: Lou Gittens


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