Rayner scoops top prize at Active Norfolk Awards

The Norfolk Sports Awards. The Active Norfolk Winner of Winners is Frances Rayner. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY
The Norfolk Sports Awards. The Active Norfolk Winner of Winners is Frances Rayner. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY
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Downham Games founder Frances Rayner scooped two top accolades at the Active Norfolk Sports Awards which took place in Norwich on Wednesday.

Rayner, who also helped save Denver Ladies Hockey Club, won the BBC Unsung Hero and Active Norfolk Winner of Winners Awards.

The winners were announced at the Active Norfolk’s ninth annual Norfolk Sports Awards, where the cream of sporting achievement and service in 2015 were honoured at The Forum in the city.

Rayner carried off the BBC award, while the Active Norfolk Winner of Winners Award was chosen by the judging panel from the 13 other award category winners.

The awards’ citation read: “Involved in sport her whole life, the real joy for Frances comes with helping others to get the same pleasure playing as she gets.

“In her younger days she played hockey for Denver Ladies Hockey Club.

“When the club ran into difficulties Frances took over and galvanised a number of friends to help the club survive.

“In 2012 Frances founded the Downham Games and has run it every year since with hundreds of local people participating in sports they would not normally do.

“Frances has also been involved in fundraising for her daughter’s gymnastics club, and her son’s basketball club – she takes every opportunity to get involved in supporting sport for all.”

Several areas were shortlisted from West Norfolk, including: Downham for The Sporting Village of the Year, and Great Massingham Tennis and Multisports Club for Community Club of the Year.

Norfolk’s own sporting stars were guests of honour at the awards ceremony to help celebrate the county’s sporting achievements.

UK Wheelchair tennis player Alfie Hewett, triathlete Kimberley Morrison, British Paralympic swimmer Jessica-Jane Applegate and boxing twins Liam and Ryan Walsh were on hand to take part in a question and answer session and present the winners with their trophies.

Thanks goes to all the sponsors who supported the event this year: BBC Radio Norfolk, Build independent charity, Credo Asset Finance, Easton & Otley College, 4 Sports, Norse, Production Bureau, Project 100, Sportspark University of East Anglia, The Forum venue and Waitrose Eaton.