royal air force sports awards 2017
The 2017 RAF Sports Awards were held on the 1st November at Halton House Officers’ Mess. The 8th annual RAF Sports Awards presented an opportunity to celebrate the efforts of the RAF’s Athletes, Officials and Administrators. Invited to the awards were sixteen shortlisted finalists, the winning sports team, along with a further 3 individuals who received a Lifetime Achievement Awards for their services within sport throughout their careers.
With 49 sports associations eligible to nominate the competition was tough, and all the nominations were remarkable within their sports.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, spoke with all the nominees at the start of the event.
The awards were presented by the Head of Sport, Air Officer Commanding 22 Group, Air Vice-Marshal Warren James. The top 3 athletes nominated for Sportsman of the year were all outstanding but Senior Aircraftman Liam Sanford clinched the title of RAF Sportsman of the Year 2017. Liam has contributed significantly to international hockey playing for Great Britain and despite his international commitments continues to support Royal Air Force Hockey by attending every Service Hockey event that he can.
Another close contest was for the RAF’s Sportswoman of the Year. This went to Aircraftman Amy Cokayne for her remarkable achievements as part of Women’s Rugby Union having delivered international excellence on the field representing England Women and transforming the Service team through her outstanding performance. The Sports Team of the Year went to the Ladies Alpine Ski Team, who have won the Inter-Service championship repeatedly, winning the overall title this year against very strong Army and Navy teams.
With over 1000 sporting events authorised by the Directorate of RAF Sport every year the amount of work being undertaken behind the scenes by association members is to be much-admired.
The administration category made apparent how committed these individuals are to providing excellent opportunities for athletes to develop and achieve. The RAF Administrator of the Year went to Flight Sergeant Niamh Lashbrook of the Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton Association, co-ordinating 3 overseas events for 3 separate RAF Winter Sport disciplines, liaising routinely with both the Directorate of RAF Sport and the Sports Federation, in addition to achieving an Inter-Service Silver Medal and representing the RAF at the British Championships.
The Sports Official of the Year was awarded to Group Captain Anne-Marie Houghton for her contributions to both the Swimming and Winter Sports Association. Anne-Marie has taken on multiple roles within both associations; being the Swimming Association Treasurer for 7 years, Winter Sports Race Secretary and Trustee, as well as being the Deputy Chairman for the past 5 years. Anne-Marie has increased her involvement further this year being a pool-side official for Water Polo and also qualifying as a snowboard judge. This year also saw 3 Lifetime Achievement Awards for exceptional commitment to representative sport. These went to Mr Gus Lees of the Swimming Association, Squadron Leader Sam Smithson of the Judo Association and Squadron Leader Paul Wyatt for his services to the Basketball Association.
The Sport Awards also included a presentation on behalf of Active Magazine for the best article of the year. This went to Flight Lieutenant Michael Masters for this article ‘Vertically Challenged’ describing his journey cycling up Mont Ventoux, the hardest of the Tour de France climbs, 3 times in a single day.