A celebration of North Northamptonshire's health, wellbeing and sporting excellence

17 November 2023

Residents who have made key contributions to health and wellbeing, physical activity and sport in the area have been recognised for their excellence at North Northamptonshire Council’s Active Communities Awards. 

It was an evening of celebration at the Holiday Inn Corby on Wednesday night (15 November) as local sports performers, clubs, schools, groups and organisations were recognised.

Local sporting hero Heather Fell, an Olympic Silver Medallist in Modern Pentathlon and former World Number One, attended in the role of special guest. 

The awards, organised by North Northamptonshire Council, is a celebration of health and wellbeing, physical activity and sport in the area. 

We have had a fantastic awards ceremony again this year. Sport and physical activity are an integral part of our local community and North Northamptonshire Council is extremely proud to recognise all the individuals, clubs, schools and organisations which contribute to making this a great place to be active and a wonderful place to live. 

The awards couldn’t happen without our sponsors so a huge thank you goes to Priors Hall Park,  TA6 Alliance,   Places Leisure,  Northamptonshire Sport,  MR Industrial Services,  Freedom Leisure &  NN Leisure who supported the 2023 North Northamptonshire Active Communities Awards.

It’s great to see local organisations supporting the achievements of our community in this way.  I would also like to thank everyone who submitted a nomination and the leisure team at North Northants Council who arranged such a fabulous event.
Cllr Helen Howell, Deputy Leader of North Northamptonshire Council and Executive Member for Sport, Leisure, Culture and Tourism
I’m delighted to see so much sporting talent in our area showcased at this fantastic event. It’s not only encouraging to see so much excellence, but incredibly inspiring to all of us. Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of the Council

More information can be found on NN Active Awards.

The 2023 winners are: 

Community Club

Great Oakley Cricket Club - The club's 150th anniversary was marked with an England PCA cricket match, attracting over 550 attendees. With an expanded membership of around 350, the club has undergone significant refurbishments, introducing new amenities and enhanced seating.

Notably, both the first and second teams have performed exceptionally well, prompting plans for a third team next season. Moreover, the club has broadened its activities to include pool, darts, and a thriving golf section. Hosting regular events and engaging with the community, the club has successfully positioned itself as a vibrant and inclusive community hub. 

Community Group/Organisation

Linwood Community Cooperative Ltd - Linwood Community Cooperative Ltd spearheaded the Kingswood Urban Development (KUD) Project, a collaboration involving North Northamptonshire Council, NSport, and KHL Big Local. Recognising the lack of youth provision, they secured funding for the project, leading to the installation of a new Calisthenic Rig, Solar Lights on the Multi-Use Games Area, and a redesigned Skatepark.

Additionally, they employed a Youth Sports Coordinator to engage the local young people through a Youth Engagement Steering Group, ensuring the project is driven by the young people for the young people. Various well-received activities have already taken place, benefiting over 300 young people. 

Sports Activator

Ian Gow - Ian has been instrumental in fostering a strong sense of community and promoting a healthier lifestyle through the Oundle Chatter Runners group, which he established in 2018. He has consistently led the group in multiple weekly running activities, facilitating social connections and encouraging individuals of all abilities to participate. Ian's dedication to inclusivity is evident in his efforts to create various running and walking routes. He has also organised events, including 

Parkruns and breakfast gatherings, contributing significantly to the well-being of the local community. Ian has inspired numerous individuals to push their limits and achieve personal milestones in their fitness journey. 

Community Champion

Prince Caesar - Prince is actively working in the East Northants area, focusing on Rushden, Irthlingborough, and Raunds, with a particular emphasis on promoting physical activity among ethnic minorities and individuals with disabilities. He hosts a weekly free wellbeing service at the Pemberton Centre, encouraging families to exercise together.

Prince organised a successful bike revival, teaching bike repair skills and arranging "Dr. Bike" events to encourage cycling among people of all ages. His energetic approach unites the community, providing affordable options for physical activity. Additionally, he collaborates with local food banks to provide assistance to families in need. 

Young Volunteer

Matthew Edward - Matthew, a passionate windsurfer representing Great Britain has transitioned into instructing and dedicates his time to nurturing the next generation of windsurfers. He voluntarily runs training, inspiring young enthusiasts. Matthew has qualifications in multiple water sports, including paddle sport coaching and rowing instruction, Matthew actively promotes various activities at the Sea Cadets, where he attained the position of leading cadet. He continues to pursue his studies in sports and coaching development, while working part-time to support his training endeavours. 

Disability Sports Performer 

Ellie-Bea Thomas - Ellie-Bea is a positive role model for both disabled and non-disabled individuals. Her constant positivity and resilience are commendable. At the National Special Olympics Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships, she secured gold medals in all five routines and clinched the all-around title.

At the World Games, she won gold for Great Britain. Through her visits to schools and care homes, Ellie has inspired people from diverse backgrounds, emphasising the possibilities of staying active. Ellie's dedication has not only achieved her lifelong ambition but has also inspired other club members to aspire to compete in the event in the future, raising awareness for the Special Olympics movement and promoting inclusion in all aspects of life. 

Get Active – Young Person 

Skye Ferris - Skye, a dedicated athlete, actively participates in football for various teams, including Corby Town U12's (mixed) and Corby Town Girls U13's, even playing above her age group. Despite being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10, she remains undeterred, continuing to excel in her sport while managing her health. Not letting her condition hinder her passion, she maintains an impressive level of commitment, engaging in private 1-1 lessons alongside her team activities.

Skye's unwavering enthusiasm for learning is reflected in her leadership on the field, where she consistently motivates her teammates and strives to improve her skills. 

Get Active

Denise Larmour- Despite suffering a debilitating stroke in 1999, leaving her with limited movement down her right side and reliant on aids when standing, Denise's unwavering determination and positive attitude has been the driving force behind her remarkable progress. Despite these initial challenges, she has defied expectations, gradually improving her physical capabilities, now managing standing exercises for extended periods.

Her infectious humour and resilience have not only inspired her class but also moved the instructor, earning her the well-deserved title of being 'undefeatable.' Her journey with the ever-unwavering support of her husband, serves as an inspiration to all, that no matter what challenges you face you can overcome them and be active. 

Sport School of the Year - Primary 

St Mary's CEVA Primary School - Last year, the school hosted 50 diverse, free after-school clubs, engaging 89% of the students. From traditional sports to unique activities like Skateboarding, Drama, and Art, the school's dedicated staff provided enriching experiences. Collaborating with local organisations such as Illicit Skateboard Company and Dynamix Dance, the school fostered community connections. Additionally, through partnerships with Kettering Town FC and Northampton Saints, students enjoyed exclusive sports opportunities. The school's commitment to free clubs supported students facing financial constraints, fostering a positive impact on the local community. 

Sport School of the Year - Secondary 

Bishop Stopford School - Bishop Stopford School boasts a robust sporting culture, offering diverse extra-curricular activities daily. Their successful school teams compete in various sports at county level, fostering a culture of healthy living and mental well-being alongside physical development. The PE Faculty's inclusive curriculum promotes holistic growth, resulting in significant progress and engagement. The school's active participation in the School Games program reflects their commitment to competitive inclusivity, supported by their involvement in local sports partnerships.

Their outstanding performance in National and Regional competitions, including hockey, handball, netball, rugby, and more, demonstrates their dedication to excellence. Moreover, the school encourages students to engage in local clubs, nurturing potential future athletes. 

Health and Wellbeing Initiative 

Kings Cliffe Active - The KC Active Pump Track was a community-driven initiative spearheaded by the parents of village children, aiming to provide accessible recreational facilities. The project's success was the result of extensive community engagement, including a crowdfunding campaign that surpassed its financial target of £20k.

Since its opening, the Pump Track has been widely utilized by individuals of all ages and from various areas, fostering a sense of community and promoting physical activity for positive mental well-being. The track has proven to be a valuable asset, offering a space for outdoor engagement, skill-building, and social interaction, while also revitalising the local area and drawing attention to the importance of recreational infrastructure in rural communities. 

Young Sports Person

Isabella Howser - Isabella's remarkable year in Modern Pentathlon has seen her achieve local, National, and international success. Apart from her personal triumphs, she invests considerable time supporting her peers and coaching at her club. Notably, she clinched titles such as the British Under 14 Fencing Champion and England Under 15 Fencing Champion, standing out as a role model within her club. Despite only committing to her sport seriously two years ago, Isabella's dedication and skill development have propelled her to exceptional heights. 

Local Sports Performer 

Alice Bates - Alice consistently demonstrates a strong winning mentality, excelling in cross country for both GB and England. Her notable achievements include winning her first full XC International and securing a place in the GB team for the European XC Championships in Turin. Additionally, she clinched her first National championship in the Senior Girls 1500m Gold at the prestigious English Schools competition.

On the track, she achieved a new personal best this season. Alongside her athletic successes, she managed to excel academically, securing exceptional grades in her A levels. Alice's influence extends beyond sports, receiving accolades from both local and national media. 

Outstanding Recognition Award

Mandy Young MBE DL - Since its inception in 2002, Mandy has been the driving force behind Adrenaline Alley, a remarkable journey of dedication and passion. Over the years, she transformed a grassroots project into a world-class facility that tripled in size, facilitating activities for 175k members. By providing training facilities, she has supported athletes to gain gold and bronze at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Mandy spearheaded initiatives like "Active in Motion," a well-being exercise centre, and her son's legacy fund for counselling and therapy support. Mandy's profound impact is seen in the community's improved health and social behaviours. She's known as "the face of Adrenaline Alley" for her unwavering commitment and immense positive impact. 

Special Recognition Award

Nando Di Matteo - Nando Di Matteo, a long-time member of Wellingborough Rugby Club, is Britain's oldest rugby union referee at 87 years old. Recognised by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the East Midlands Rugby Union Referees Society, Nando's remarkable dedication was recently featured in the SUN newspaper. He attributes his longevity to exercise, a healthy Mediterranean diet and a post-match Guinness.

Nando referees school, senior, and women's/youth games, setting a shining example for both young and older enthusiasts. His commitment has enabled countless individuals to enjoy the sport they love, making him a well-known and respected figure in the rugby community. In a time when recruiting and retaining match officials is a challenge for some sports, Nando stands as a selfless example of service to sport, facilitating others' participation and enjoyment.