Thursday 15 December 2011

BBC North East Sports Awards

Last week I was invited to the BBC North East Sports Awards in Gateshead. I'd been looking forward to this event for a while and I hoped to be inspired by some "proper" sports personalities. 

After giving a quick interview to BBC Newcastle's Total Sport show it was time to take my seat. Sitting 2 seats away was the Newcastle United Assistant manager, John Carver and we had a good chat about all things NUFC. The empty seat next to me was for the Newcastle United Captain, Fabricio Coloccini. He turned up just before proceedings got underway.

The hosts for the evening were BBC Newcastle's Charlie Charlton and Jeff Brown. The audience was full of sporting legends such as Bob Moncur, Jack Charlton, Steve Cram, Mike McLeod, Chris Cook and Stephen Miller to name but a few.

Some of the awards categories were the Disability Sport Award, Team of the Year, Unsung Hero and The Jackie Milburn Award. 

There was a shift away from the awards with a Judo display and it was good to see Charlie Charlton getting involved. Following the Judo Charlie started talking about the next award; Sporting Inspiration. Without naming names at this stage, Jeff Brown called it "the inspiration not only of this year, but of any year". What followed was quite simply one of the proudest moments of my life as footage was shown of my run across the USA. It was at this point that I realised I had won the award. 

I received the award from Fabricio Coloccini himself and talked to Charlie Charlton about the run across the USA, the 2 charities, the amount raised and also gave a mention about the up and coming run across Australia. 

Winning the award was brilliant obviously. To be able to talk about the USA and also Australia to such an esteemed audience was another great piece of PR. 

Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray won the main award of the evening. I had a good chat with him after the ceremony had finished and he was very interested in the USA run; asking plenty of questions.

It was also great to catch up with Stephen Miller and Chris Cook. I had a good long chat with Bob Moncur before I left too. 

As I was on my way out, the Head Coach of Gateshead Thunder asked if I'd like to train with them in the build up to Oz 2013. Watch this space for news on that next year.

All in all it was a fantastic evening. Thank you to the BBC for bestowing such a prestigious honour on me.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

The Northern Echo Local Heroes Awards

I was lucky enough to win the Northern Echo Local Heroes Award for "Remarkable Achievement" a few weeks ago. Quite appropriately, a remarkable runner called Paul Smith nominated me for the award. This guy has ran for over 1800 consecutive days. That is no mean feat believe you me.

The award was presented by former Manchester United centre half Gary Pallister, Northumbria Water's head of communications Alistair Baker and TV presenter Kay Murray. It was nice to talk to Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew afterwards too. We last met, of course, back in Columbus when I tossed the coin before the match. That all seems like such a long time ago now! Also in attendance was boxer, Tony Jeffries and it was great to talk to Steve Cram about the USA run and also the Kielder Marathon.

The best thing about the award was that it came with a £250 cash prize. That went straight to the 2 charities and saw the fund pass over the £104,000 mark.

Thanks again to Paul Smith for the nomination and to The Northern Echo for such a wonderful night and esteemed award.