Belt raises bar with record gong

Sharron Davies (left) hands Littlehampton Cricket Club's Alan Pyant his admistrator of the year award. Picture: Stephen Goodger
Sharron Davies (left) hands Littlehampton Cricket Club's Alan Pyant his admistrator of the year award. Picture: Stephen Goodger

Littlehampton’s Daphne Belt became the first athlete to scoop the top prize on more than one occasion at the town’s Sports Awards on Monday.

The event, which was held at the Millennium Chamber, saw great numbers turn out to see all ten awards handed out.

This year's Littlehampton Sports Award winners with their trophies. Picture: Stephen Goodger

This year's Littlehampton Sports Award winners with their trophies. Picture: Stephen Goodger

As ever, a guest speaker was in attendance with former Olympic and Commonwealth swimming medallist Sharron Davies attending to offer up awards and speak about her experiences in the sport.

Belt, who also won the same prize back in 2014, has had a remarkable year – taking on triathlons in Windsor, Worthing and Brighton to name a few. Her performances in every event have been exceptional and Belt has finished top of her 75-79 age category in each race.

After learning of her nomination, the Littlehampton triathlete was in shock as she discovered a second success in Littlehampton’s most prestigious category was hers.

She said: “I was amazed to win it for a second time. Looking at all the names who have won this on previous occasions, I haven’t seen anyone come up twice, so it’s a special feeling to have been the first to do that.

Daphne Belt was Littlehampton's sportsperson of the year for 2016. Picture: Stephen Goodger

Daphne Belt was Littlehampton's sportsperson of the year for 2016. Picture: Stephen Goodger

“I’ve worked exceptionally hard over the year and to win this award is reward for all of my efforts. I competed at Windsor for a 24th time this year, as well as Worthing, Brighton and other European races.

“I’ve had to work hard but to win in my age category in all of those was special. It’s a case of continuing to work and get myself ready for each race.”

At the age of 77, many would forgive Belt if she decided to put an end to her competing days. However, she is just as hungry for competition next year, with a World Championship event taking place in Rotterdam in 2017.

She added: “The World Championships is something I’m really hungry for. I won my age category in Edmonton two years ago, then Chicago a year later.

Ben Horley (left) collects his unsung hero of the year award from Sharron Davies. Picture: Stephen Goodger

Ben Horley (left) collects his unsung hero of the year award from Sharron Davies. Picture: Stephen Goodger

“I’m still not qualified for that competition but my whole focus is on making sure I make it, then I’m ready to compete.”

Talented dancer Jessica Baker collected the young sportsperson of the year award.

Baker, who has been a county level performer since the age of five, recently achieved a short-term goal having been accepted into the prestigious Bird College of Performing Arts. That means she will now regularly compete at both national and international level.

Christine Merrington-Trice was awarded coach of the year for her work with Littlehampton Croquet Club. An accomplished coach, she has reformed sessions at the club and continues to help players raise their level of performance.

There were joint award winners in the administrator of the year category. Littlehampton Cricket Club pair Chris Staight and Alan Pyant were both rewarded for their efforts.

The duo took on legal responsibility for the new cricket pavilion, applying for grants, planning consent and licences as well as overseeing all work on the building.

Littlehampton Badminton Club’s male combination team came away with the team of the year award, following another triumphant campaign.

This year has seen them win the league for a sixth consecutive season, while also encouraging some less experienced players to join the club.

The gamble paid off as Littlehampton lost just one game all season on their way to winning the league title yet again.

Sandy Fell was honoured for her contribution to disabled sport. Fell works closely with several schools across Littlehampton and organises a number of competitions so youngsters can try their hand at a number of different sports.

Arunners Running Club’s young performers claimed the young sports team of the year trophy. The talented group of athletes aged between two and 15 constantly produce displays to help Arunners’ juniors come out on top in the West Sussex Fun Run League.

Over the last five years, they have been the most successful team in the competition, with great dedication being shown as they regularly register teams for all 13 events.

Ben Horley’s efforts have not gone unnoticed as he collected the unsung hero of the year award. Horley, who is employed to oversee several pitches at Littlehampton’s Sportsfield, continues to do a stellar job.

A busy schedule sees him held solely responsible for the upkeep of two cricket pitches, four lawn tennis courts, five croquet lawns and four football pitches.

Littlehampton’s cricket surface is widely regarded as one of the best on offer in the West Sussex Invitation League.

The final award to be dished out was the coveted lifetime contribution to sport. Littlehampton Badminton and Squash Club’s John Shepherd was handed this year’s trophy.

Shepherd, who has been an active member for 13 years, has spearheaded great success in badminton during his time at the club.

Before moving to Littlehampton, Shepherd coached and organised badminton at the prestigious Wimbledon Club.

When Shepherd became a committee member back in 2003, no league team was available to compete in competition for Littlehampton but following years of hard work, led by Shepherd, there are now two senior men’s teams, a ladies’ team, two mixed teams and a couple of combination squads.

Despite being in his 80s, Shepherd continues to turn out on club nights with his hard work and dedication second to none.

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