The finest sportsmen and women in the Army have been recognised at a glittering awards ceremony held in the historic Guildhall in the City of London. Recognition of Olympic, Paralympic, and Commonwealth Games success was matched by awards for team of the year, officials, unsung heroes, rising stars, and a special lifetime achievement award.
The occasion was hosted by General Sir Nicholas Carter, Chief of the General Staff, and was organised in collaboration with Team Army and the Army Sports Control Board. Sports presenter Gabby Logan added sparkle to the event as compere, ably assisted by Master of Ceremonies Brigadier Richard Dennis OBE. Renowned soprano Laura Wright opened the evening in style by performing “Invincible”, her song from the Invictus Games, and guests throughout the evening were entertained by the musical talents of the Band of the Corps of Royal Engineers.
The Army takes sport very seriously, not just because it expects its personnel to be fit to serve, but because the values and standards enshrined in sport perfectly match those held so highly in the Armed Forces. Soldiers are expected to work in a team for the good of the team, to strive to be the best at what they do, to be disciplined enough to succeed against the toughest challenges and to learn from and overcome defeat.
Joining General Carter, military sportsmen and sportswomen, award nominees, sponsors, friends and supporters were some of the UK’s biggest sporting heroes, including Victoria Pendleton, Greg Rutherford, Colin Jackson and James Cracknell, as well as some of the Army’s own former stars, Tim Rodber and Matthew Fleming. Members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment standing guard added extra ceremony to the occasion.
General Carter said: “I place a huge premium on sport in the Army. My starting point is that it helps our Army win in battle. It plays a vital role in welfare, morale, operational effectiveness and recovery. Sport produces soldiers who build and lead teams by habit and reflex. It generates and maintains cohesion. It nurtures pride and that essential corollary – humility. It encourages leaders to think clearly, confidently and positively when under pressure. And fundamentally it feeds a winning culture and ethos that inspire hunger for success on the battlefield.This is therefore a clear message to the chain of command: as we transition from several years of campaigning to a new era where we need to be ever ready for a broad range of challenges, our soldiers must be given opportunities for sport, challenge and adventure.”
Those opportunities are being strengthened by a new initiative, Team Army, a registered charity that raises funds for Forces sport, thus reducing the burden on the tax payer. Many Team Army sponsors already involved in the scheme were at the awards ceremony last night enjoying the success they have helped make happen.
The Army Sports Awards 2014 was attended by 450 guests, including Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel in recognition of their participation in the Winter Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and the Invictus Games.
Eight awards were presented on the night with Boxing dominating the categories for Sportsman and Sportswoman of the year. Sportsman of the Year was awarded by Colin Jackson and sponsors Lockheed Martin to Lance Corporal Ashley Williams, 23, from Bridgend who serves with 1 Royal Welsh in Tidworth. Lance Corporal Williams’ achievement in winning a Bronze medal for Wales at the Commonwealth Games is one for which both he and the Army Boxing Association can be justifiably proud. He has now set his sights on the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Sportswoman of the Year was awarded by Victoria Pendleton and sponsors Hewlett Packard to Lance Corporal Alanna Murphy, Source: © UK Crown copyright 2014
Source: © UK Crown copyright 2014
Team of the year went to the Rugby League Women’s Team. The team has enjoyed an exceptional season. In addition to achievement on the pitch, they have focused on the development of players and the squad in order to promote Rugby League amongst the women of the Army. Sergeant Amy Robinson Royal Military Police from RAF Northolt plays Standoff No 6 for the team. She said: “To get this award is absolutely amazing. It will attract a lot of girls to the training season and the development sessions. I’m very hopeful now for the future of Army Ladies Rugby League – this award has really put us on the map”.
The Rising Star Award was awarded by James Cracknell and sponsors Dyncorp to Sapper Alex Royle, 21, from Stockport. Sapper Royle serves with 42 Engineer Regiment near Huntingdon as a Geographic Technician and was identified as a talented cyclist during basic training. At the British National Road Race Championships, he lasted 90 miles in the lead group (including Geraint Thomas – Commonwealth Games gold medallist) until being eliminated on the finishing circuit. He has the drive, determination and talent to be a future star.
Adaptive Athlete of the Year was awarded by Brigadier Fred Hargreaves and sponsors Raytheon to Private (Veteran) Charlie Walker, 34, from Dalton in Furness Cumbria. At the 2014 Invictus Games, Charlie played in and coached the winning British Armed Forces Sitting Volleyball Team. In addition, he played a pivotal role as a player in the Wheelchair Basketball and Rugby teams helping the teams to Gold in both sports.
Official of the Year was awarded by Matt Fleming to Warrant Officer Class 2 Mark Scorgie, 41, from Hammersmith. The Staff Sergeant from 12 Royal Engineer Group in Wittering has shown exceptional and enduring commitment to both able-bodied and adaptive alpine skiing. Under his tutelage, Paralympian Sergeant Brennan went on to win a World Cup bronze medal in Giant Slalom before he qualified for the Paralympic Games and achieved two top 10 finishes.
Unsung Hero of the Year is Captain Paul Greenwood from Bury. He received his award from singer Laura Wright. Captain Paul (known as Frank) Greenwood is Quartermaster 38 Signal Regiment in Sheffield. Through patience, cajoling, good humour and sheer dedication his coaching has raised the standard of Ladies’ cricket beyond recognition. He coached the inaugural Combined Services Ladies fixture at Lord’s this year. Since 2011, Captain Greenwood has also been the Manager of the Army U25 team. This squad is a key aspect of the Development programme for Army cricket – bringing on and encouraging young players with potential and ability as they aspire to make the full Army side.
The much coveted Lifetime Achievement award was presented by the chairman of Rugby Football League Brian Barwick to Staff Sergeant (Veteran) Sean Fanning, 45, from St Helens. Sean Fanning has shown a selfless dedication to the development of Rugby League within the Army and has represented the Armed Forces at the highest possible level, played semi professional rugby, represented Great Britain Community lions, and founded the rugby league based charity Soldiers League to raise so far more than £50,000 for service charities.