PEOPLE from the world of sport who have excelled in the face of adversity and shown inspirational leadership have been honoured despite the difficulties imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

A public ceremony at a venue such as the HG Wells Centre was not possible for the 2020 Sport Woking Awards, so the winners’ trophies were hand delivered.

Last year was an exceptionally difficult year for sport, with most competitive fixtures either cancelled or postponed and training activities heavily restricted due to COVID-19.

But, out of 70 nominations from the public, seven people were deemed by the judging panel to have excelled in their chosen discipline or to have made an outstanding contribution to the development of their sport.

The awards are run by Woking Borough Council, in partnership with the News & Mail and other sponsors. They were carefully handed over by Jack Gallop, the council’s sports development officer.

Congratulating the winners, council leader Ayesha Azad said: “The borough’s sports clubs and athletes have shown a great deal of resilience in the face of such adversity. Many have adapted and found new ways to engage their members, while others have channelled their resources into supporting their local communities, for which I’m very grateful.

“At a time when we’re all acutely aware of how important our physical and mental wellbeing is, the Sport Woking Awards are a wonderful showcase of the many opportunities that exist within our borough and of what can be achieved with a bit of grit and determination.

“To all our winners, thank you. You are an inspiration, and it gives me great pleasure to see your efforts acknowledged via the Sport Woking Awards.”

The Active Lockdown Challenge of the Year trophy was won by fitness instructor Lucy Stevens.

Lucy ran Dancepiration outdoor exercise classes in Knaphill, making a significant effort to keep the class going during the pandemic. She followed the guidelines strictly, but also kept the class fun and accessible for all, changing to Zoom classes when physical group exercise classes were not permitted.

The most prestigious award of the set is the Trotman Trophy, which has been awarded by Woking Sports Council since 1971, recognising outstanding achievements and contributions to sport in the borough. For 2020, it was awarded to Vince Skillcorn, head coach of Fighting Fitness Judo.

The Sports Personality of the Year is Kate Davies, captain of Woking Ladies Football Club.

Woking FC Ladies manager Chris Sexton said: “Kate is not only a fantastic player, she’s also a leader on and off the pitch and a strong role model for the younger players.”

Gymnast Oliver Porter was awarded the Young Sports Personality of the Year trophy.

Despite having no competitions this past year, the Woking Gymnastics Club member has been a model athlete as he maintained schooling along with daily online gymnastics from both the club and British Gymnastics training.

His coaches referenced his enthusiasm and dedication to the virtual methods of training throughout the national lockdowns and he achieved a place in GB development squad for his age group. He also got the top score on pommel in elite level 4 at the National Grades competition in November 2019 and also became the elite level 4 regional champion.

The award for Community Contribution of the Year went to Ciaran Mitchell, coach at The Dojo Woking who is a karate world champion.

He was judged to have created such a strong community through his teaching of martial arts in a Dojo, which he built from scratch. The judging panel were amazed by the amount of nominations he received referencing his impact on the community and the level of details in each nomination.

The Inclusive Sports Award, sponsored by Freedom Leisure, went to Stephen Hodges, who volunteers at Woking Wheels for All, an initiative based at Woking Sportsbox that provides stimulating cycling experiences for people of all ages with disabilities.

Quamar Ellahi, who volunteers to help run Woking & Maybury FC, won the Outstanding Service to Sport award, sponsored by Surrey Playing Fields.

Other sponsors were Woking Borough Council, Woking News & Mail, Freedom Leisure, Nova Cinema, We Are Woking.

For more on this story, and for more pictures, see the 7 January edition of the News & Mail