Local heroes take top gongs at the Sussex Sport Awards

Sussex Sport Awards Kim Milnthorpe
Sussex Sport Awards Kim Milnthorpe

Three Horsham-based individuals were crowned winners at the 14th annual Sussex Sports Awards.

The event, held on Friday at The Grand Hotel in Brighton, welcomed special guest and five-time Olympian Jo Pavey and regular host BBC Sussex presenter Danny Pike.

Sussex Sport Awards Helen Courtney

Sussex Sport Awards Helen Courtney

Both were on hand to offer their congratulations to all winners on what has been another highly successful Olympic and Paralympic year for Team GB and Sussex athletes.

Kim Milnthorpe, who first got involved in athletics as a parent helper at Horsham Blue Star Harriers in 2006, won the Coach of the Year Award.

Ten years later her efforts to develop as a coach are paying dividends, with 11 of her athletes winning Sussex county athletics titles in 2016 and three being ranked in the top five in the UK for their age group.

As a highly-motivated Level 2 UK Athletics coach, Milnthorpe was nominated onto the England Athletics Local Coach Development Programme and over a four-year period attended over 25 coaching workshops, masterclasses and conferences before being invited onto the National Coach Development Programme for Youth Development in 2015.

Sussex Sport Awards Jim Burroughs

Sussex Sport Awards Jim Burroughs

Winner of the BBC Sussex Unsung Hero Award is Jim Burroughs of Billingshurst Cricket Club.

Despite having to look after his own business and more recently, a battle against serious ill health, Burroughs has been labelled ‘a truly special volunteer’, whose leadership, inspiration and sheer hard work, led Billingshurst to its position last year in the county’s top flight of club cricket.

He has been associated with the club for more than 30 years and, whilst he is a very active chairman, has performed and continues to hold many other roles including secretary, groundsman, match-day manager and colts manager.

Helen Courtney scooped the Sussex County FA Volunteer of the Year Award.

Courtney, of Stars Netball Club, started the club more than four years ago with another mum as their daughters needed a club and there wasn’t one in the area.

They struggled to find a venue so started in a building that could only be described as a clear space in a tin building at Brinsbury College.

Since then both parents got the venue moved to Chanctonbury Leisure Centre and got a grant for new equipment.

For the past two years, she has run the club single handily and it has now grown in size by having three sessions on Thursday for girls between years four and 10.

There is about 75 girls on the books and they have now started playing league games this year. She organises all the fixtures, money, equipment, all admin and the training venue.

Team GB Olympians and Paralympians - including local star Jade Lally - were also in attendance to inspire the attendees.

Each were awarded with the Sussex Sports Awards Special Recognition Award.

Sadie Mason, Active Sussex chief executive, said: “I’d like to congratulate all three of these very well deserved winners.

“This brings down the curtain on what has been another highly successful year for, not just British sport, but also Sussex sport and our competitors.

“We were all engrossed in what has been the most enthralling Olympic and Paralympic Games for Team GB in modern history.

“This, of course, featured a wealth of Sussex-based sports stars. The awards ceremony rewards quality, achievement, determination and commitment to those involved in sport across the county.”