A sell-out audience saw the culmination of a two-month campaign to find the cream of Melton’s sporting crop for 2018.
Our 15th Melton Times Sports Awards evening featured a new high of 16 awards, supported by a record number of sponsors, and brought out a consistently high calibre of finalists across the board.
The evening culminated in our sports personality of the year awards, as decided by your votes, with tennis player and coach Libby Duncan taking home the junior title, and national cycling champion Mick Stevens claiming the senior crown.
Before that, we honoured Down’s Syndrome swimmer Andy Banks who picked up the Special Recognition Award for a glittering international career as well as his charity work.
Of our two new awards, John Ferneley College pupil Jessie Houghton became the first recipient of the School Sport Award, and Sue Bailey picked up the Community Sport Award for establishing new social sports in Melton as a way of preventing isolation.
The first award of the evening went to bowls with Chris Rodgers named Sportsman of the Year, having helped skip the county to a first national title in more than 50 years.
And Thai boxing superstar Iman Barlow received the Sportswoman of the Year award after impressing her global following with yet more world titles in 2018.
The equivalent junior awards went to Will Graham for his national swimming title, and horse rider Poppy Shaw who won a world gold medal in the equestrian sport of mounted games.
Blind shooting pioneer Michael Whapples was named Disability Sportsperson of the Year, after a British title-winning season in which he continued to head the campaign to get the sport included in the Paralympics.
Charlie Richards took the Footballer of the Year honour after his 39-goal season helped Asfordby FC Development to promotion and a cup, while Jamie Tew was named Cricketer of the Year after a record-breaking season with the bat for Melton Mowbray CC.
Bowls had a second winner of the night in Coach of the Year Erica Warrington, rewarded for her impressive work in developing juniors at Melton Indoor Bowls Club into area champions, national finalists and county squad members.
Husband and wife Jim and Sharon Reason jointly won the Unsung Hero of the Year award for their unstinting and varied work as club presidents at a flourishing Asfordby Amateurs Ladies, Girls and Inclusive FC.
The club had another reason to cheer when their under 14s girls’ team were named Junior Team of the Year.
Meanwhile, Melton Mowbray Tennis Club’s ladies’ first team collected the senior Team of the Year accolade after winning two County Division One title in 2018.