Exceptional Contribution

This category celebrates community heroes and local legends who have made an outstanding contribution to community sport and physical activity, giving their time to enable others to get involved. They may have been involved in community sport for decades or have enabled high numbers of people to participate in sport and physical activity.

Alan Thorne

Over 25 years of commitment to Aquatics in Bristol

Little did I think that when asked to stand on the poolside and watch a group of Competitive Swimmers, that thirty years later I would still be involved. I was hooked, having encouraged both my daughters through the sport I have done most of the jobs associated with Aquatics over the years, I have Taught, Coached, Tutored and Officiated within the sport.

Sporting Clubs need to be efficiently run and need a large band of Volunteers to effectively manage the Club, as Team Manager, Committee Member, Chairman, I believe the efficient management of the Swimming Club is as important to its success, as the skills of the Teachers and Coaches.

Competitive Swimming in Bristol, through the amalgamation of Bristol Central and Bishopsworth Swimming Clubs, into the City of Bristol Aquatics, has entered into a new era of the Sport within the Bristol Area. It has already shown that the City of Bristol is a force to be reckoned with, supporting Competitive Swimming, Water Polo, Synchronised Swimming and Disability Swimming.

Ali Hurford

Athletics coach to Year 5 to 8 Boys for over 13 years

Ali has been coaching & inspiring young boys (Years 5-8) at Bristol & West Athletics Club for over 13 years, 3  nights a week. On top of this she gives up her time at weekends & Bank Holidays to attend all the League, National & local fixtures with her group of boys or, 'Ali's Army' as they are affectionately known, for both individual and relay events. Without fail Ali bakes her famous 'bakewell tart' before every event which her 'army' of boys dutifully polish off after completing!

Her yearly weekend long training camps in Brean are legendary as are her twice yearly hill training sessions to Merthyr Mawr sand dunes encompassing picnics & a spot of surfing at Ogmore beach after the main event. She even opens up her home to all the boys past and present twice a year to help develop a team spirit. At the end of every season Ali hosts a presentation event in which every athlete is recognised however large or small their contributions or achievements.

Her mantra has always been to make a difference, instill confidence and develop a lifelong love of the sport whilst looking for the next olympiads!

Finally Ali's enthusiasm and encouragement is second to none, she has magical skills, being able to get the best out of each of her boys by knowing them all individually, whilst injecting fun and humour into their training & keeping them focused and under control!

Alistair MacFarlane

Exercise Referral Manager for Everyone Active

For 12 years Alistair has been the Exercise Referral Manager for Everyone Active in Bristol. His Referral Scheme operates at 4 leisure centres working with GP surgeries and local health partners to deliver an exercise programme for those referred by their doctor. With Alistair's motivation and support, the scheme has grown from 300 patient referrals a year to over 1000, all with the aim to improve their health conditions and return to a healthy lifestyle. The scheme was honoured with the “Healthy Lifestyle Award” at 2017 Health and Care Awards.

In addition Alistair was jointly responsible for the development and introduction of Energise, the exercise based cancer rehab scheme that was launched in 2013. The programme has changed the lives of many affected by cancer and has now been championed by other health and exercise professionals across the UK - further evidence of Alistair's great work. Energise won the Bristol Post Business Awards “Contribution to the Community” award 2015, and “Together we Achieve” award at the Health and Care Awards 2016.

Furthermore, Alistair has introduced exercise classes for people with Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis, continued the programme for cardiac rehabilitation and regularly contributes to diabetes awareness events across the city.

Becky & Chris

Predator Athletics Cheerleading Club

Becky and Chris are the main coaches at Predator Cheer. A club that encourages everyone to work together as a team, to support each other and help develop each others' skills. Each week hundreds of children from 5 up to adult attend training sessions which lead into showcases and competitions, giving children a unique opportunity to perform as a team and have fun, building self confidence.

Ben & Polly Mullen

Significant contribution to Bristol Penguins Olympic Swimming Club & Bristol Schools Swimming Association

Ben and Polly are an incredible duo who give an astounding amount of their energy and time to support children and young peoples’ swimming in Bristol.  They have been involved in the Bristol Penguins Olympic Swimming Club for the last 10 years, where they are both enthusiastic  and inspiring coaches and teachers.  Beyond this they are central to the running of the club, Ben as the Chair and Polly holding several positions including Welfare Officer, Swim Academy Coordinator, membership Coordinator and Finance Support to name a few.

Polly is also Chair of the Bristol Schools Swimming Association, where she has worked tirelessly with Ben to increase participation in the annual primary and secondary school competitions, whilst keeping standards high.  As a result over 900 swimmers from across the city participated last year.

They are both passionate about encouraging swimmers of all levels and backgrounds to participate in the sport.   This ranges from being recognised for the quality of their teaching to younger swimmers and the opportunities they provide to get involved in fun galas, through to their support for the most able swimmers to compete in higher level competitions.  What is really special is the efforts they both make to get to know each individual swimmer in the club.  At the end of every gala they will be found at the door ensuring each swimmer feels recognised and valued.

They do all this on a voluntary basis on top of their day jobs as teachers in local schools.  Bravo Ben and Polly, you are much appreciated!

Ben Breeze

England and Professional Rugby player, founder of Bristol Sport Foundation

Ben Breeze had a prolific playing career having represented England U21, Students and 7's and subsequently Wales 7's and Wales A, Barbarians, Crawshays and Penguins International RFC.  As a winger, he formally played his club rugby for Exeter Chiefs (2006-2010) having joined from Welsh regional team Newport Gwent Dragons (2003-2006) where he made 55 appearances. Breeze joined Dragons from Newport RFC (1999-2003) as Welsh rugby moved to a regional structure where he made a further 77 appearances, scored 28 tries.  Breeze started his professional career at Bristol Rugby (1995-1999) making 85 appearances, scoring 32 tries.  On 25th March 2016 he coached and played for Rwanda at the GFI Rugby Tens in Hong Kong, technically making him a triple international rugby player.

But it is also his contribution to community sport in Bristol that needs to be recognised.  As Ben moved from Dragons to Exeter Chiefs, he reformed Bristol Rugby Community Department in 2005, restructuring it as a registered charity in 2010 as he retired from the professional game, winning 10 All-Party Parliamentary Awards for Innovation, Social Inclusion and Best Practice during his 12-year tenure.

In 2016, Ben was asked to design and establish a new charity to act on behalf of the family of professional clubs at Bristol Sport.  Bristol Sport Foundation and its partner charities now invest over £2million per annum into community sport throughout Greater Bristol.  Close partnerships with Bristol City Council, Sport England, Bristol Sport and Ashton Gate, alongside a strong corporate following puts Bristol Sport Foundation in a strong position to make a real and lasting difference for people in need of support throughout Greater Bristol.

Carol Morris

Volunteer Netball Coach and Umpire

Carol has been a part of Airborne Netball Club for as long as I can remember.  Her enthusiasm, dedication and uplifting coaching ideas are amazing.  We have 3 adult teams and 4 junior teams.  She not only gives all her coaching for free but is happy to umpire for free, to enable the money to help our junior members.

She coaches our under 14 girls every Monday evening, giving them all the help they need to progress and then spends all day Sunday in all wind and weathers watching them play their matches and then has to stay and umpire after. She is the same with the adults, she coaches our 3rd team for two hours every Thursday and then watches/coaches them every Saturday regardless of the weather.

If she is at a school netball event and sees players that have potential she will encourage/help them to find a club to play in. She also set up a "Back to Netball" session in a school to encourage ladies to have fun whilst learning new skills and make friends.  She works tirelessly trying to get young people and adults alike into Netball and does all of this for nothing.  She is one of the most inspiring ladies I have ever met and would love for her to get nominated.  Her message to others is "have a go, you never know".

Chris Elson

International Athlete and 60 years of coaching, leading and managing Athletics Teams

Chris began running 400m competitively at 13 and proceeded from Yorkshire Schools Mile Champion & record holder to silver medallist in the British Master Cross-Country Championships at 63 via running for Scotland whilst at Edinburgh University and England as a Master. Highlights included winning the East of Scotland Mile Championship twice and silver medals in the equivalent cross-Country twice. As a Master, collecting a drawer full of gold, silver & bronze medals at British & Midland championship over 1500m & Cross-Country and 4th place in the World 1500m in 1997 whilst a visiting Professor at the University of Natal, Durban.

Chris has coached for some 60 years either by leading groups or more recently with a stop watch, whistle and luminescent headgear. Chris was West of England Participation coach of the year in 2012, and coaches 3 or 4 sessions a week. Chris joined Bristol & West Athletic Club in 1972 and since retirement managed track & field, road running and cross-country teams. Highlights included taking the womens Track & Field team from Division 4 of the Midland League to division 1 of the UK League, the mens & womens Gwent Cross-Country teams from 34th & 12th respectively in 2011 to gold and silver medals for the last few years.


Carol Malone

International Performance Coach, Great Britain Coach, International Judge and Manager of City of Bristol Gymnastics Centre

Carol started gymnastics at the age of 9 when her primary school teacher started an after school club at Cheddar Grove Primary in Bedminster Down, South Bristol. She then attended lessons at Whitchurch Sports Centre and in 1980 at the age of 18 started up her own club at Easton Leisure Centre. Right from the beginning as a young coach she was determined to get a gymnast to the Olympics. She quickly got several gymnasts into the Great Britain National Squad and worked her way up through the coaching qualifications, gaining her High Performance Coach and International Performance Coaching certificates along the way. Her first International gymnast was in the late 1980s Rachel Poulton, who went on to represent Great Britain at very many International Competitions. This was closely followed by Melissa Wilcox who was a member of the Great Britain team which competed in the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

Melissa was the first gymnast from Bristol to be selected for the Olympic Games, and paved the way for other Bristol gymnasts to follow.

Carol was selected for very many International competitions as GB Coach - European Championships, Youth Olympics to name but a few.

In 2004 Carol was involved in a lottery bid application for a brand new 'state of the art' Gymnastics Centre to be built on the old Hartcliffe Secondary School site (now Bridge Learning Campus): City of Bristol Gymnastice Centre. Thousands of youngsters from all across Bristol are given the opportunity to participate in Gymnastics, most at grass roots level, but a few 'special talents' being given the opportunity to go on to a high competitive level, some representing their Country.

Alongside her top coaching awards Carol took all her Officiating Awards and qualified as an International Judge for Gymnastics in 2001.

As a top British Judge Carol has represented Great Britain at 5 European Championships, 4 Commonwealth Games, 4 World Championships and the 2012 London Olympic Games, and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. She is the number one judge for Great Britain and has judged over 150 International competitions for Great Britain.

Despite the judging success Carol's passion remains coaching. She actively promotes the City of Bristol Gymnastics Centre to all schools in Bristol offering free curriculum gymnastics lessons to all schools so as to promote sport and healthy living to the young people of Bristol.

Carol now acts as a mentor to the next generation of young coaches and judges.

Carol was born and has lived in Bristol all her life and has been championing gymnastics in Bristol for over 40 years.

Colin Johnson

Founder of Bristol Visually Impaired Runners

"I approached Colin in October of 2016 as a totally blind runner who needed a sighted guide to run my first full marathon in Budapest.  He had never met a blind person let alone ran 26 miles with them; with around 6 weeks to go before the race he took up the challenge.  We completed in under 4.5 hours and I was just elated.

He has since set up a group in Bristol of VI (Visually Impaired) runners and guides called “VI Runners Bristol” which has over 180 members on Facebook, and is going from strength to strength. We now have over 12 regular VI runners that had not run before that have completed 5Ks, 10Ks, Half marathons, and marathons. It has made a significant difference to their lives both physically and mentally as well as creating a social network of friends.  We meet weekly and have people of all abilities.  He is an unsung hero and the work that he has done should be recognized."

Derek Scale

Founder of Bristol Central Football Club

Derek is the founder of Bristol Central Youth Football Club and has been managing it for 15 years now. Its aim is to give young people from the inner city of Bristol the opportunity to play and enjoy the game. Through his work and the management of more than 14 teams with over 300 young people, he has provided the opportunity for them to participate in sport and enjoy being active.

As well as club sessions BCFC also run community fun days and holiday camps all based around their ethos of making it accessible for the local diverse community.

Alongside all of that he has dedicated 10 years of service to Bristol Rovers FC as a football coach.

Dorothy Farquharson

Gymnastics Coach and talent for working with children with Special Needs and Disabilities

Dorothy started coaching Gymnastics in 1983 when as an 'interested parent' she was persuaded by Carol Malone to go on a coaching course to help out at grass roots level. She has coached at every Sports Centre in Bristol bringing Gymnastics to the masses. She worked with Carol Malone who was the then Gymnastics Development Officer for Bristol City Council in taking gymnastics into Bristol Primary and Secondary Schools in the early 80s and continued with this school work right through to 2004.

Her main passion was always to work with children with Special Needs and Disabilities. She took Gymnastics to Elmfield School for the deaf, learning British Sign Language to help their development. Gay Elms Autistic Unit and Claremont Special School were thrilled with the work she did with their pupils over several years. In 2004 when the City of Bristol Gymnastics Centre opened in Hartcliffe, already at the age of 62, Dorothy took on a full time role as Head of Recreation and Special Needs. The ethos of the Centre was always 'inclusion for everyone'.

Dorothy has a natural 'gift' for working and communicating with people with Special Needs and through Gymnastics she has opened up new skills and new opportunities for improvement and development in all aspects of their lives. She has also taught able bodied children the concept of accepting everyone for who they are and for what they can achieve by working together.

Now at the age of 75 Dorothy is still working full time teaching the children of the children she used to teach. For 40 years Dorothy has shared her passion and enthusiasm for Gymnastics with the children of Bristol, developing self confidence, self esteem, self discipline and a 'can do' attitude. She has no plans to retire and wants to keep working and developing the young people of Bristol for as long as possible.

Elaine and Mike May

Founders of Bristol Hawks Gymnastics Club

Elaine & Mike May developed Bristol Hawks Gymnastics in the heart of Easton into an exceptional & highly successful club. It is a testament to their tenacity & hard work that the club exists. Having invested their life savings, a week away from opening, it burnt to the ground. With a typical ‘never give up’ attitude the club opened in 1992.

Currently around 1400 people benefit from the club every week. It offers a range of activities, pre-school & recreational sessions, competitive teams, school & university classes and provides facilities for other clubs. Bristol Hawks Gymnastics combines high quality community participation with world-class elite international performance programmes enabling everyone to reach their full potential in the sport. As one of very few clubs that has produced both men’s and women’s Olympians, Commonwealth Gold Medalists and British Champions in addition to winning world medals & consistently placing numerous gymnasts in national teams & squads it enjoys a high local & international profile & has a reputation for excellence.

Elaine & Mike’s passion for the sport also inspired them to volunteer as highly qualified officials for over 40 years. Their great legacy is the many generations of children that they continue to inspire.

Hilary Nash

29 years of contribution to Athletics including as Coach, Official, Team Manager, Bristol & West Chair, Treasurer to Avon Athletic Association

Since joining Bristol AC, when my son was competing, athletics has become a significant hobby.

Athletics team management commenced in 1989 and I progressed into coaching, officiating and organising/hosting home meetings.

I am a life member of Bristol & West Athletics Club and was on the committee for many years and served as Chairperson for a couple of years.

I support the administration of Avon Athletic Association as treasurer, the local Avon League and the Youth Development League U17/U20 composite “Team Avon”.

I have enjoyed team managing the Avon Schools Under 15 Sportshall athletic teams for 24 successful years.

I ran Saturday sessions at Whitchurch Sports Centre for 15 years during which time I met a young Emily Diamond. Emily recalls those early days and now she is a winner of Olympic and World Championship medals.

The recent Commonwealth Games also included:

Lucy Bryan who I coached for sprints and high jump before she specialised as a pole vaulter and Leon Reid who at 16 was on first meeting invited to join Bristol & West and compete a few days later. He is another outstanding natural athlete.

There are a few others who enjoyed athletics that have excelled in other sports.

James Edwards

Football Development Officer helping young people to flourish

James has been working in South Bristol for over 10 years engaging young people in positive activities and helping them to develop key life skills. He currently works at South Bristol Sports Centre where he has been working with a group of young people to form a 'Youth Council'. The young people decide what activity or outcome they wish to work on, for example he worked with mums to get them into football and they came up with the idea of 'Mumball', they also have established a 5 a side Friday Football league for young people.

Aall the awards have gone to Bristol City Community Trust about the Youth Council but it has been James who has supported the young people through the journey; he has been there for them always.

Jess Stockwell

Head Coach at Predator Athletics Cheer

Jess is one of the Head Coaches of Predator Athletics Cheer in Bristol. She is dedicated and passionate about working with children and this shows in the enthusiasm and love of cheerleading that the children she coaches have for the sport. Cheerleading is a fantastic outlet for the girls and guys who participate in this team sport; which teaches life lessons such as leadership, team work, & perseverance. The hours of coaching on evenings and weekends that the team at Predators put in enabling opportunities for young athletes to compete across the country and internationally really is a testament to youth sport in Bristol.

Karen Thorpe

GB respresentative and team captain for Synchronised Swimming at Worlds, European and Olympic Qualification. International coach and Club Coach

Karen Thompson - Elite Performer

I have been involved in the sport of synchronised swimming since 1984, when I joined Bristol Central Swimming Club.  After just a year I was selected to represent England in solo, duet and team event. This was the start of a 10 year International career as a synchro swimmer, taking me many places around the world and along the way picking up many national medals and titles.

I attended many different level/open international events and multiple European Championships as a junior/senior athlete and World Cups/Championships/Olympic qualification as a senior athlete.  My best international results were gaining a silver medal at the European Junior Championships in 1990, placing 8th at the FINA 1995 World Cup Championships in the duet event and 4th at the European Championships in the duet and team.

I was also lucky enough to be nominated as the team captain for a number of years and led the team to high level competitions such as Worlds, Europeans and Olympic qualification, which was a tremendous honour.

One of my most memorable moments was receiving the National Synchronised Swimmer of the Year Award to standing ovation at the National Championships in 1995, awarded just before I retired as an elite athlete and took up the coaching mantle.

Karen Thorpe (nee Thompson) - Exceptional Contribution

After just a few years of coaching my athletes were the top junior solo and duet in the country, this stepped me into my first International Coaching role, assistant coach at the World Championships 1998 and subsequently I continued working internationally over two decades.

Although international coaching is exciting travelling many places around the world, my heart is coaching locally, which I still do as a volunteer coach and have done since 1994.  In my time as a club coach I worked from starters to elite, I coached at times 30 hours a week alongside a full time job working with 100s of athletes over the years, of which approximately 25 to 30 athletes progressed to England/GB representation and more than 20 national titles for the club.

For over 18 years, alongside my coaching role, I have been a volunteer committee member for the club and at times regional and national committees.

I am passionate about the sport, I am dedicated to sharing the positive effects sport brings, particularly for young athletes, who are predominantly girls.  Seeing ex-athletes, who were from all walks of life within the local area, thriving and giving back to sport or putting to use the skills they have learnt is extremely important to me.

Keith Brackstone

International Athlete and coach for over 39 years

I began running at School in 1964 progressing to become North-West Kent cross-country champion at 16 and represent Kent Schools in the English Schools Cross-Country three times. As an Air Cadet I was runner up in their National Cross-Country and 1,500 metres Championships as an 18 year old. In 1972 I went to Bristol University on an RAF Scholarship where I became Club Captain and unofficial coach. In 1975 I entered the Royal Air Force full time and ran for them every year between 1975 and 1996. In 1980 I helped Bristol Athletic Club to win the National 12-stage Road Relay in a record which stood until 2015 when the course changed. In 1980 I represented England at cross-country and in 1988 represented England in the Home Internationals Marathon.

In 1979 I qualified as a coach and have been coaching ever since - now four nights a week in Bristol. I have organised national standard cross-country and road races and local track and field meetings for over 45 years. Recently in 2015 I was voted Wesport 'Performance Coach of the Year' and also helped Bristol & West Athletic Club to win the England Athletics Development Club of the Year in 2013 and 'Innovation Project of the Year' in 2017.

Laura Gibb

Pilates instructor, Personal Trainer and co founder of Fusion Fitness and Mama on the Move

  • Laura is an inspirational Pilates instructor, Personal Trainer and co founder of Fusion Fitness and Mama on the Move. Her work with soon to be or new mums is amazing and her knowledge invaluable! I think her biggest achievement to date is Mama on the Move - a  safe, effective online health & fitness programme specially designed for pregnant & postnatal women. Her easy to follow programmes can be done anywhere (often a major concern for new mums) & include Pilates workouts, fitness exercises, nutrition advice & recipes to help boost your energy levels.
  • Mama on the Move has absolutely transformed lives. Having used Mama on the Move during pregnancy and beyond, Laura is a never ending source of support, knowledge and she is truly inspirational.
  • I hated fitness and as a 45 yr old overweight couch potato I needed some serious motivation. I have lost over two stone, I now love burpees and I’m running the Bristol 10k. All thanks to Laura, who has shown me how fitness can be fun and can easily be part of your life.
  • Laura has transformed the minds and bodies of many women. Her message is to take advantage of the small moments you have. Building your fitness and strength around your family in a handful of minutes a day can be done. She has developed a whole community, giving support and motivation in person and on social. After 3 children I had my 40th birthday this year fitter and stronger than ever, thanks to Laura.

Len Williams

Fitness Instructor & Community Champion

Len has coached the Easton Leisure Centre Tuesday evening circuit class for 29 years. In advance of his Tuesday circuit class he works at Easton Leisure Centre as a gym coach and supports local (often vulnerable and excluded) young people ( who have built trust in him). On a Monday, he has a dedicated client group that attend his core class.

Many of us have attended his circuit class for over 20 years and we continue to turn up because of his personal qualities and skill. He is both professional and highly competent in what he does (he has recently published a related book) and is able to work trainees to their full potential. Len varies the class routines to help us to develop skills in team building, leadership and communication and pays attention to detail that is applied to each person attending. Len facilities evening quiz nights to ensure members feel part of a team and welcomes all new comers with a professional induction at the beginning of each class. The class is culturally diverse and Len goes out of his way to communicate with some members in their native languages to ensure they feel welcomed, valued and part of the class. The majority of the local communities (many of which do not access mainstream) are aware of his classes and he has a reputation in the area for his hard and intense circuit classes.

It is time that Len was recognised for the hero he truly is, he is dedicated and committed to supporting others to be the best they can be.

Lynda Townsend

Volunteer walk leader for over 14 years

Lyn Townsend has been volunteering as a health walks leader for over 14 years! She has given countless hours of her time to not only leading walks but promoting Walk for Health, creating walks publicity, fund raising, and generally being a tireless advocate for walking as a way to improve health, wellbeing and reduce social isolation.

Lyn Townsend is one of over 200 health walks volunteers in the city that deserve recognition for getting Bristolians active but there is no other volunteer I have personally worked with for nearly 15 years, so I think she should get a special mention. I calculate she has spent over 1500 hours of her own unpaid time, since 2003, helping support and motivate people to join walks (and therefore enabling friendships to develop) and increase people's awareness of their local area and Bristol as a historic and green city. Through organised, led walks Lyn and the Bristol Amblers team of leaders support people to keep active into their older age, often despite and because of health issues. Lyn Townsend lives in Redfield and works in Barton Hill.  Her message is "Get walking! It’s good for your heart, mind and soul!"

Maria Shortman

Great Britain Synchronised Swimmer and Head Coach for City of Bristol Aquatics (Synchronised Swimming)

When I was 9 years old a Lifeguard at Jubilee Swimming Pool recommended I try Synchronised Swimming with the local club.  That was the beginning of a lifelong involvement with the sport that has taken me all over the world as a swimmer and a coach.  I swam competitively for 15 years, including 9 years on the GB Junior and Senior squads. My highest achievement was swimming in the World Swimming Championships in 1991 in Perth, Australia.

I got involved with coaching in 2000 when I started teaching children to swim at school and as part of the Learn to Swim council lessons. In 2007 I began coaching synchronised swimming and in 2010 I was appointed Head Coach for Synchronised Swimming in Bristol.  I now coach full time and as well as being Head Coach for City of Bristol Aquatics (Synchronised Swimming) I am also part of the coaching team for the national England Talent and GB squads.  I was a coach on the 2012 Olympic Ambition Programme.

My message is to encourage people to make time to be active and enjoy exercise for all the social and health benefits that it brings.

Marion Britton

Over 25 years of service to Swimming and Bristol Aquatics

Born in the city, Marion Britton has given over 45 years of exceptional contribution towards swimming in Bristol and Bristol Aquatics.

From teaching 1,000s of primary school children to secretary to the Swimming Section of Bristol Central Swimming Club, South West Region Welfare officer, Past President of Gloucester County and South West Region, Swimming Club Open Meet Organiser, Official at many county, club, schools and disability galas, Team Manager Trainer, Ambassador for a supported pathway for swimming and ‘go to’ person for advice and support on many complex and delicate swimming issues to clubs within the city.

Mel Gilbert

Founder of Eastville junior parkrun

Mel is passionate about giving young people the opportunity to get out in their local park and join in running for fun, and to encourage their wider skills throughs volunteering. She resourced funding to set up Eastville junior parkrun and rallied an event team to deliver the weekly free 2k event which has recently celebrated it's 1 year anniversary. Eastville junior parkrun has attracted 483 runners across it's 56 events and will attract many more.

Mel is a role model in that she has run 248 parkruns around the country and has volunteered at least 119 times!

Michele Hurst

Founder of Run Fest

"I have only known Michele for a short length of time and in that time learnt what an incredibly dedicated and inspirational woman she is. Michele juggled marathon training whilst also putting together 'Run Fest' which she created originally as a one off charity event but it was so popular she is now dedicating all her free time to bringing the event to the masses! Her focus is how exercise benefits mental health this series which at the moment is a huge subject that people are becoming more and more interested in and aware of. Her continued effort means her love of running is reaching others and inspiring them to start their own journeys."

Run Fest was created by Michele Hurst, originally as a fundraiser initiative for her Son’s Scout group; there were 140 attendees, 12 speakers and raised £1.3k for charity. After the fantastic success of the first Run Fest event Michele has committed to Run Fest: The Series - a series of evenings/events exploring themes such as mindset, endurance events, nutrition, training plans and plenty of stories of resilience and perseverance. Michele’s aim for Run Fest is to bring together inspirational speakers to share their passion and to inspire others to be active in sport. It is an evening dedicated to all things running, bringing together inspirational speakers to talk about their running achievements.

Michele became a runner late on but has progressed from her first 5km during a Sprint Triathlon to currently having run her first marathon in Prague in May 2018.  Michele runs regularly with Westbury Harriers running club and is an occasional run leader for the club.

Mike Down

Over 50 years contribution to Athletics as a Coach, Team Manager, Administrator, Race Promoter, Reporter and Bristol & West AC Chair

Mike has been a senior (level 4) endurance coach for over 50 years and guided athletes to all the major championships: Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth Games. he received the British Milers Club coach of the year award in 1997 for his work with locally based internationals Jo Pavey, Rob Whalley and Ian Gillespie. A founder member of the former National Jogging Association, he coordinated the UK Athletics National Endurance Initiative programme for four years and promoted a series of South West Grand Prix Mile races for ten years that produced the first four minute miles in Avon, Gloucestershire, Devon, Dorset and Wiltshire.

Mike also served as the athletics correspondent of the Bristol Evening post for some 20 years up to the millenium and over the years has written for many athletic journals. He has been an elected member of the UKA's South West Regional Council and campaigned tirelessly for better facilities for sport in the city, particularly track and field. Mike is a coach for Bristol & West Athletics Club.

Nadia Saba

Co-founder of Bristol & District Triathlon Club, Club Chair, Senior Coach (voluntary)

Bristol & District Triathlon Club has been an integral part of the city triathlon scene for many years and it was all led by this one amazing lady.  Nadia wouldn’t admit she is a legend but the difference she has made is integral.

Nadia Saba has been the driving force behind the inception, instigation and ongoing operation of BAD Tri which has, under her leadership and over 12 years, served over 3000 members who have been supported in achieving their aims in triathlon, swimming, cycling and running from personal improvement in health and fitness to world championship level competition.  BAD Tri has grown to include a junior triathlon club, a junior race and the Bristol Harbourside Triathlon - a marquee race in the national calendar.  Miss Saba has inspired the membership to participate in sport and volunteer to run the club (whose operations are run exclusively by volunteers) and its events.  Without Miss Saba none of what is detailed above and below would have happened.

Her service to sport over the last eleven years has been exceptional, and the achievements of the club that she initiated, co-founded and continues to chair, are clear to the community of Bristol and even to the wider South West region.  She has given much of her own personal time to the inspiration, support and nurturing of both club members and the team who work with her.  The impact of this has been seen at both local level, with the positive impact the club has on its members and the number of races organised in Bristol; and at National level, with BAD Tri members participating at races across the UK and the world.

Neil Genge

Founder and head instructor of the Bristol Shaolin Wushu Academy

Neil Genge is the founder and head instructor of the Bristol Shaolin Wushu Academy. He has an impressive 44 years of martial arts experience and has trained all over the world but most notably in Shaolin Gong Fu at the Wushu Guan and Shaolin Temple in China where he has returned to train at each year since 1989. Neil was the first Englishman to be given the honour of becoming a disciple of the temple in a ceremony conducted by the venerable Grand Master Shi Suxi.

The Bristol Shaolin Wushu Academy was one of the first schools in the UK to promote Shaolin Gong Fu. As a  '31st generation Shaolin Temple disciple' Neil  has given countless Bristolian’s the opportunity to learn authentic Shaolin Wushu, & enjoy instruction in Foshan Wing Chun, Shaolin Taiji and Shaolin (Zen) Yoga. He is highly respected in the UK & beyond for his dedication, knowledge, unassuming manner and inspirational teaching.

He is a friendly and approachable instructor who can teach students of all levels. In his time Neil has produced some great martial artists. Some students have taken things to the next level by performing in public displays, winning competitions in Hong Kong, Europe and the UK and appearing on television as stunt doubles. Neil constantly motivates his students to fulfil their potential and his humour creates a positive atmosphere during training sessions. He is a truly exceptional person.

Neil Maggs

Sports show creator and journalist

"Neil was part of a team who set up Streetgames in Bristol, an initiative which focuses on bringing sport to the most deprived communities across the UK. He has worked on various Sport England funded sports projects for 15 years, in local authority and 3rd sector.

He started the first community radio sport show in the region, which won best radio show of the year at the Community Media Association Awards. He has produced two series of "Doorstep Sport" on TV; the first TV show to feature community sport and one which showcased projects and organisations across the city. He took community sport to the BBC. He now writes regular columns in the Bristol Post and B247; he continues to tell stories about the sports and individuals that don't always get the limelight. He has been a mentor and advocate for BME working class  and marginalised communities in sport."

Pat Holmyard

Over 25 years commitment to the development of aquatics in Bristol, national team coach and overseeing the training programme for 3 Olympians

I joined Bristol Central Swimming Club in 1944 and was the first Gloucester County Synchronized Swimming Champion and in the same year I was Gloucester County Women’s Foil Champion in Fencing.

I then went into coaching and have coached three Olympic competitors.  Bristol Central were national champions on numerous occasions and I made many friends through sport.

I was lucky enough to travel the world as a judge going as far afield as Japan and Canada.

People can get involved with Synchronised swimming through Bristol Aquatics.

Peter Sherman

England & GB Senior Water Polo International, 25+ years commitment to Bristol aquatics

Learning to swim with Bristol Central I developed as a swimmer at County, Western County, and National level.  During this period I learnt to play water-polo and was a junior in the senior team - a boy amongst men!

I was selected for the England U/21 squad at the age of 17 and played for England and captained the Great Britain u/21 team.

My playing career was cut short at the age of 23 years because of chronic ear problems.  The following year I was invited to coach Bristol Central in the Bristol and District League.  Within 3 years we were champions and entered the National League.  It took us time to be successful but, having won the 3rd Division we went on to success in the 2nd Division.  Unfortunately, the League was re-arranged and we had to win the 2nd Division for a second time!

In the Premier League, once we established ourselves, we became one of the outstanding teams in the country.  In one year we went undefeated in the Bristol and District League, County, Western County, National and British Championships.  I was the coach during the whole of this period.

Running concurrently I became the manager of the Great Britain U/21 side.

The players will remember 'A granite block is a barrier to some but a stepping stone to us'.

People can get involved with Water Polo at Bristol Aquatics.

Rich Kenington

parkrun volunteer, Ashton Court parkrun core team member & Photography Volunteer Ambassador

Rich can be found at a parkrun every weekend, usually in a volunteer role, most often at Ashton Court, as run director, tail walker, run report writer or as an unfailingly welcoming unofficial one-man welcoming committee for newcomers to the event. He also puts his photographic skills and his social media expertise to great use at parkrun, producing a brilliant and inspiring series of news announcements, weekly montages and all sorts of visual material.

A valued and popular mainstay of the core team at Ashton Court parkrun, he has an extensive knowledge of people, their names and the runs they have done, and often discovers landmarks and records that people have been unaware of themselves. Rich has also introduced a series of regular social events which parkrunners appreciate, and he has helped to set up new parkruns and support existing ones in the Bristol area. His enthusiasm and encouragement of others, and his celebration of their achievements is what the parkrun community, especially at Ashton Court, is all about.

Roy Owen

Basketball Coach

Roy has lived in Bristol since 2011 when he moved here to join the Bristol Flyers Basketball team, he is one of the most senior members of the team and was made assistant captain this season.  In addition to his playing commitments Roy also works full time as a pastoral leader at Bristol Metropolitan Academy.

Every Saturday morning throughout the academic year for the last 5 years, Roy has run an open Basketball coaching session at SGS Wise Campus for children aged between 8 and 12 years old.  The session is open to all abilities and Roy is able to integrate all children into his session so that they are all challenged and able to progress at their own level.  On average Roy will coach in the region of 60 children every Saturday morning.  Roy's passion lies firmly in watching the youngsters grow, not just as Basketball players, but also as individuals utilising the morals and concepts of fair play, team work, respect, communication and leadership that Basketball instils in them through the practical sessions.  Roy is a shining example of how continued hard work pays off and through his position within the Flyers, he motivates and inspires the children he coaches to get involved and strive to be the best they can be.

On a personal level, Roy's kind and open demeanour is incredibly welcoming and his genuine love of watching the children achieve through Basketball is incredible.  With Roy's commitment to the Bristol Flyers, he regularly plays fixtures on Friday nights as far away as Manchester and Newcastle, returning in the early hours of Saturday morning, however Roy will turn up every Saturday morning at 9am to ensure that the session runs and the children receive a high quality session which is purposeful and productive.

The Basketball session that Roy provides offers children from across the city an opportunity to have fun and be active, without it many of these children would lead a far more sedentary life.  We believe that Roy is an unsung hero of Basketball in Bristol, his commitment to those who attend his sessions and his drive to help each child develop and grow through Basketball is simply remarkable.

Soeli O'Hagan

Fitness Instructor and devisor of 'Amazon Workout', has inspired many women to get fit and healthy

Soeli is well known throughout Bristol and has literally trained hundreds of people in her Amazon Workout class. She has taught the class for 8 years in Bristol and is a constant source of inspiration for female fitness. The method helped her to lose 5 stone of baby weight and transformed her life completely. She has gone on to help others achieve the same. Most recently and notably she held a This Girl Can/ Bristol Girls Can free campaign at Impact Gym with the initial target of engaging 20 females in a weekly fitness class. The programme went insane and she had 100 women turn up to train!!! This is something we feel needs recognition!

This person is an inspiration to women not only is she a mum she is an amazing person who pushes supports and helps people every day! Soeli has got me through some tough times. She started out as my trainer but is now my friend! Truly amazing woman!!

Steve Brocklehurst

Founder of Bristol Storm Basketball Club

In 2003 Steve started working in the centre of Bristol delivering Basketball sessions at outdoor courts (and a field with a portable basket). With the opportunity there Basketball exploded, and through need of regular competition Bristol Storm Basketball Club emerged.  Delivering numerous projects that focused on outreach and engagement within the community like Sports Jam, Storm the Street, King of the Court, Midnight Madness, and offering free sessions, with partners like Bristol City Council, Street Games, and Access Sport, it continued to grow exponentially.

Steve’s main drive has always been to create pathways and this in partnership with City Academy saw the launch of their Basketball Academy providing a high intensity programme alongside academics helping many youngsters excel both off and on the court, achieving their aspirations.

In 2006 on the back of continued growth Storm brought National League Basketball to the centre of Bristol for junior boys and girls, and senior men and women, the first national league programme for women for close to twenty years, and the most complete club programme in the South West.

Steve continues to show the young people of Bristol that with the right environment, motivation and compassion anything can be achieved.

A true inspiration!

Sue Anderson

Netball Coach, Captain of Airborne Netball Club and Back to Netball Area Coordinator

I have always been involved in sport, I always played in the Netball and Rounders teams at school.  When I left school I started to play Handball and went to Germany with our team to play over there.  Following that I got married and had 3 children so team sport was difficult for a while so I attended fitness sessions instead.  Then one day my sister asked me to play for her Netball team as she was short and I have never looked back.

Since then I have become a Level 2 Netball Coach and a “B” Award Umpire. I run Airborne Netball Club that has 3 Senior  and 4 Junior teams. I have worked for Ashton Park School going into schools and coaching Primary School children, then 6 years ago I was blessed and got a job with England Netball to get ladies back into Netball.  It is a dream job and the thousands of ladies I have met has been unbelievable.  They are truly inspirational.

One of Airborne’s biggest achievements was getting into the Guinness Book of World records for playing Netball continuously for 56 hours, it was one of the best feelings ever, as part of this we raised £10,000 for 2 charities: Bristol Children’s Hospital and Cancer Research.

Tom Dixon

Co-founder of Bristol and District Triathlon Club

Bristol and District Triathlon Club (BADTri) was the first multi sport club in Bristol, it is responsible for arranging and putting on the Bristol Harbour Triathlon and has engaged 1000s of people from total beginners to elite athletes in swimming, biking and running.

Tom has been in change of the membership for many years and was a founding member.  Tom would not want his name in lights, he is very modest about the volume of work he has done behind closed doors.

Over his years at the club Tom has coached swimming, cycling and assisted in arranging the race.  This is no mean feat as an unpaid volunteer and an athlete himself.

Tom stands down as Membership Secretary this year but continues with his passion: coaching and encouraging those who are dipping their toe in the water for the first time.

Vicki Hill

Personal Trainer and Buggy Buddies Instructor

"Vicki is exceptionally amazing at her job as a women’s health personal trainer. Vicki cares about us, it’s not just a job for her, she is passionate about restoring our fitness and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Vicki is a remarkable woman who is truly dedicated to helping women recover their fitness levels during post partum. She’s passionate about providing safe, appropriate exercise classes.  She’s inspirational at practising what she preaches; cycling to all her classes across Bristol come rain or shine. She’s a natural carer who helps settle any/ all the babies so mums can focus on the exercise routine without any worry for their little one. She really lives and breathes what she does and goes the extra mile. Her classes across Bristol get new mums out the house, giving babies fresh air and mums the endorphins that help aid the post partum period.

Vicki doesn’t just make an exceptional contribution to women around Bristol, she is also inspirational and dedicated. I don’t know how I would have coped without her classes of buggy fit and other post natal sessions. She’s a legend and it would be fab for her to get something as recognition of how invaluable she is."