After receiving a fantastic number of exceptional nominations for this year’s Sussex Sports Awards, we recently announced the eagerly awaited shortlist of finalists last week.
As we count down to the intimate awards ceremony on Thursday 25 November, we are sharing the stories of our finalists in each of this year’s five categories.
Meet our finalists for the Outstanding Contribution to Sport Award
Honouring a current paid or recently retired professional who has made a major impact on the world of sport in Sussex during their lifetime which may also include having worked in a voluntary capacity. Evidence will demonstrate that this person has been a key “mover and shaker” over the years, driving change and influencing policy. They will be well respected having mentored and supported colleagues over their career. Evidence will demonstrate the extent of the nominee’s contribution including their recent commitment and dedication.
Dr Nicola Tweedie, Affinity Rowing Club
Utterly dedicated, with boundless enthusiasm, Nikki has been the driving force behind the growth of rowing in Sussex, central to establishing 2 rowing clubs in Newhaven and supporting the growth of a 3rd. Her efforts have allowed hundreds of Sussex residents to learn to row and many to gain their Cox qualification.
The prime mover behind the first Sussex team to compete at the World Pilot Gig championships, she has also supported opportunities for members to row across the world from Bermuda, France, the Scilly Isles and the UK.
Nikki’s selfless commitment includes designing coaching plans, managing crew selection, and scheduling rowing slots. A passionate skilled cox, her infectious enthusiasm is on display every weekend on the Ouse. Never one to rest on her laurels, Nikki has begun her Level 3 Coach training, so she can deliver race training and continue mentoring Coxes.
Covid-19 has challenged us all, but Nikki’s forethought has allowed the club to shift focus and deliver wellbeing activities, particularly for older and more socially isolated members of the club. With a seamless switch to online learning for coxes and delivery of focused Masterclasses, this has maintained members’ links to the club, giving a continued sense of purpose.
This is all the more impressive when taken within the context of Nikki’s job; a NHS Clinical Psychologist, who’s workload has exponentially grown during the pandemic. As if this contribution to sport in Sussex was not enough, for the second time, Nikki has been selected for the Invictus Games rowing squad’s coaching team.
Daniel Barfoot, Up-Grade Training and Therapy
Dan has worked tirelessly with disaffected young people across East and West Sussex. He has turned many young people’s lives around with a caring and passionate attitude; reengaging young people with a positive and active lifestyle by helping them find meaning and direction in their lives.
The young people Dan has worked with often come from the care sector and during their time with Up-Grade and with Dan, have re-entered school, reengaged with their communities and have won awards with their local authorities. Many of those young people now work alongside Dan as youth mentors and are pursuing careers in sport and coaching.
Dan has put countless hours of hard work and dedication into becoming one of the most exceptional teachers and youth workers these young people could possibly ask for. He truly goes above and beyond for each and every child in his care. Dan works seven days a week with children’s homes, county councils and special schools to ensure the best possible provision for those young people who so desperately need it the most.
Paul Showell, Southwater Junior Academy, On the Ball Football Development and Southwater Royals
Paul’s career and life revolves around sport coaching within the local community. He is a PE teacher at a local primary school, Southwater Junior Academy, where he teaches 460 children each week. He coaches the school sports teams and pre-Covid-19 supported, on average, 77% of children to represent their school each year. He is a well respected and valued member of the Southwater community.
In addition to this Paul runs On The Ball Football Development where he coaches one-to-one and small group football development sessions. Paul works with the parents, the child and their grassroots football coaches to provide bespoke sessions to enhance each child’s football skills in a fun and challenging session.
Paul also volunteer manages two grassroots football teams for Southwater Royals, and uder-9 mixed team and an uder-15 girls team. In Paul’s coaching role he coaches each team once a week and takes them both to matches one a week, committing 2 evenings and both weekend mornings to his role. Paul started the girls division of Southwater Royals 4 years ago, which now has 6 teams and 106 players.
Paul’s passion and commitment to sport in the local community is infectious and inspiring. He is genuinely making a difference in the lives of hundred of young people; sharing the love of sport, supporting children to play competitively for the first time, building teams that will develop life long friendships and being an exemplary role model.
The Sussex Sports Awards will take place on Thursday 25 November 2021, where our winners will be announced. See our full list of finalists here.