Winter 2017-18 Annual Cross Country Awards Presentation, 

Hornchurch Conservative Club Friday 11 May 2018  

(script used by Martin Chester)

{Tony Benton's intro}

Good evening everybody and welcome on behalf of Havering Athletic Club to the annual presentation of the 2017 annual cross country awards.

Before we get those award presentations underway we’re taking the opportunity to recognise the achievements of three long-serving individuals who have been members of the club for 25 of its 50 years. We usually make these presentations at our annual general meeting in March but none of them was able to make it on that evening.

The first of these awards goes to a young lady who joined the club just after her tenth birthday and was soon a regular sprinter and long jumper in club teams and she was a member of the Under 13 girls relay team whose club record stood for 22 years until it was broken last year. In 2001 she was one of the Under 20 team who competed in the National final and the next day was one of the senior team who won promotion to the UK league, setting off an unbroken series of league appearances over the next ten years. Taking up pole vault as an Under20 she scored important points for the club and is ranked sixth on the club all-time list. Her father who is her tonight was also her team manager from 2000-2005 and has emphasised how essential her assistance to himself and the club was. He said “Her help and knowledge contributed enormously to the running of a team that achieved 4 promotions in 6 seasons - Southern Women's League Division 2 to National League Division 2.  I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank her for all the time and effort she put in helping me over that period." I’m pleased to award life membership of Havering AC to Hannah Connor, the former Miss Gamester.

Next up is someone who was initially a club member as a young athlete from 1970 to 1973 and returned when her daughters joined 20 the club years later. She restarted training in 1995 and over the following years almost single-handedly rewrote the club’s veteran’s records from 100m to 1500m in the age groups from 35 to 39, 40 to 44 and 45 to 49. The quality of some of those veterans’ records is exceptional and rightly earned her a series of national veterans’ medals including 800m W35 gold and a string of SEAA gold medals, as well as fourth place in the World Veterans champs. She became a big points scoring member of the Southern League and UK Women’s League teams, a member of winning county vets cross country teams, and at the age of 50 she tackled the marathon and posted a sub four hour clocking for yet another club veterans record and one of the top 10 club senior ladies’ times.  Along the way she gained her coaching qualifications and has become an important part of what is a very successful family coaching group. The deserving recipient of life membership of Havering AC is awarded to   Lesley Gahagan-

Finally we welcome another club member who has now reached the landmark of 25 years with the club. Like many of our volunteers she joined the club when her children became members and was soon an important member of our volunteer team progressing quickly to achieve her Level 3 coaching award specialising in child development. In the years since she has given a generations of young athletes a firm foundation in a range of events to launch their athletics careers and she is once again now focussing her coaching efforts on the youngest Under 13 age group. A useful runner herself, she was a regular top 30 finisher for many years in our Essex League Cross Country teams, finishing high up in the veteran’s placings and she has several London marathon runs to her credit, including a sub four hour clocking which ranks her second in our veteran’s lists and just behind Lesley in our senior lists. She still keeps herself fit at Parkruns to set a great example to our young athletes. I’m pleased to award life membership to Linda Smith

Before I hand over to Martin Chester who will announce the awards I’ll carry on for a few minutes more to announce the first award myself – for reasons that will be obvious!

The winner of the Male Veterans Team Member Award goes to someone who does a lot for the club and it’s a wonder that he has time to run, but his running does bring success. He was part of the mixed team that took gold in the cross country relays and the silver in the Vet 40y team in the road relays. He appeared in every Essex

Martin Chester :-->

It’s always great to see so many familiar & friendly faces, especially in a much warmer environment than your average cross country race, with no hills,  mud clogged shoes, and not even a hint of rain in sight.

However, firstly as always, we would also like to recognise and congratulate the parents for making sure athletes got to the start line in the first place, fit and well to wear the club vest with such distinction. So let's give them a round of applause.

The awards are being presented this evening by the Club President, Kevin White, and, as ever, the respective team managers have selected most of the winners.  Tonight, is all about acknowledging the achievements of our athletes for both Club Best Performance and just as importantly Team Member Awards.

I’ll start with the award for Club Best Performance by a Male Veteran. Over the years this gentleman has been a mainstay for the team and the club.  Winning the Essex cross country league in his age group as well as being part of the Vet 50 bronze medal-winning team in the road relays and the Essex league Vet winners, the award goes to MATT BLAND.

The winner of the Veteran Ladies’ Best Performance award has been a consistent supporter of club teams and is no stranger at these award evenings, She ran in 3 of the 4 Essex League races and came 2nd overall in her age category – a brilliant result !

Also running in the Essex Cross Country Relays and the Essex Champs where she also came 2nd in the V45 age group. Just post a recent repair, I’m sure we will be able to count on her competing in the 2018/19 winter season! Well done to DEBBIE APPLETON.

The Ladies’ Vets Team Member is another consistent team member. She also ran in 3 of the 4 league races, finishing in 10th position overall. She also ran in the Essex Cross Country relays and the Essex Championships. We can always rely on her to turn up for the Senior Women’s team – congratulations to JO SULLIVAN.

Now onto the Senior Men’s Best Performance award. Every year just when it seems this man has reached his zenith he climbs to new heights. He anchored both the cross-country, and road relay gold medal winning teams home. He also won the gold medal for the fastest leg in the road relays, and the first Havering runner for nearly 20 years to win an Essex league race. He also won the Essex league senior men for the second time in succession. He also represented Essex in the Inter counties at Loughborough. ROB WARNER.

The Senior Men's Team Member award. The older this runner gets the faster he goes. He was ever present in the Essex league where he won bronze in the final league standings. He was also a part of the gold medal-winning cross-country and road relay teams. PAUL GRANGE

The Senior Women’s Best Performance award. Relatively new to the club and to cross country running, after only running on roads before, the winner quickly got involved, competing in all 4 of the Essex league races, placing a fabulous 5th in the overall standings. Also competing in the Essex Cross Country Relays, the Southern Championships and the Nationals, she has taken to the Cross Country scene really well! We’re hoping that GINTE BAILEY will have a great summer season, and will return to the mud next season for even better things!

The Senior Women's Team Member award goes to an athlete who, although not a newcomer to the club, had been mainly a track and road athlete and was new to cross country. She competed in 2 of the 4 Essex league races, the Essex Cross Country Relays, the Southern Championships and the Nationals. She recently ran in the London Marathon – well done on a great result in the blistering hot conditions. We’re hoping she will continue to run for the club this summer and again next winter season as she is a useful member of the team – the award goes to CLARE DAVIES

The Club Best performance award for Junior Men. This athlete continues to get better with every race. His enthusiasm knows no bounds. He was part of the gold medal-winning U20 team at the county championships, and ran a good leg in the gold medal-winning team in the road relays. Ever present through-out the season. JAMES STEWART

Now the winner of the award for Junior Men Team Member. This is another lad who puts everything into his running, he always encourages his team mates and is always ready to congratulate them no matter what. He was part of the county gold medal-winning U20 team and has represented the club in all the Essex Leagues and the National cross country at Parliament Hill. KIERAN O’HARA

The winner of the Club Best Performance award for under-17 men award had a good and solid season, flying the flag consistently for the team and becoming “Mr Reliable” for the team. He has started the track season well and with another winter season in this age group we can expect more great cross country results from ALEX FRIEND

The Under 17 Men Team Member award goes to another athlete who has improved no end in his first year in the age group – never an easy step up which he dealt with well. He competed in 3 of the 4 fixtures, the county championships, and was another reliable team member. Well done to LOUIS BERRETT

The winner of the Club Best Performance Award for Under-17 Women had a brilliant start to her 2017/18 Winter season, winning the first League race and with the fastest leg of the day in the winning Essex Cross Country relay team. Part of the silver medal winning team at the South of England road relays, again with the fastest leg, she was 2nd for Essex at the Southern Inter Counties and a brilliant 6th at the British Athletics Cross Challenge at Liverpool. Unfortunately some injury and illness spoilt her start to 2018 but she came back to help the squad win National silver. We’re hoping JESS MITCHELL will soon be back to full strength.

The Under 17 Women Team Member award goes to a young lady who regularly competes and trains. Last winter she competed in the Essex League races and the Essex Cross Country Relays. She was 6th in the Essex Champs and represented the County at the Southern Inter Counties and the main Inter Counties race. Also running at the Nationals at Parliament Hill and the English Schools’ Championships, she recently came 15th in the London Borough Mini Marathon. Congratulations SOPHIE RAND.


This extremely hard-working athlete showed a great improvement from last season which fully earned him this Club Best Performance award for under-15 boys’ award. He was ever-present in the Essex League with a top 10 finish in the final standings, which confirmed he was the top ranked club performer in the league individual standings. A key part of the team, well done to the winner LUKE CHESTER.

The Under-15 boys Team Member award goes to an athlete who gave another strong and vastly improved season and consistent results. He deserves his award for his hard work and determination to do well for the team. The winner is JAKE LONG.

We now come to the award for Club Best Performance for under-15 girls which goes to an athlete who had a fantastic winter season, winning the Essex League individual title after 3 wins and 2 runner’s up placings. Her county gold medal earned her selection for Essex at both the South of England Inter Counties and main Inter Counties, and she was also part of the Essex Schools team at the South East School Champs and the English Schools Championships. A fine 7th in the London Boroughs Mini Marathon, she has started her track season in winning form! A committed and friendly member of the training group who trains regularly, the worthy winner is SYDNEY FOLEY.

The Team Member award in this under-15 girls’ age group has been won by a young athlete who took part in the Essex relays and was present in 3 of the 4 Essex League races, only missing one to take part in the London Youth Games on the same day. She ran for Essex at both the South of England Inter Counties and the main Inter Counties and competed in the South of England Championships. She is a valuable team member and a likeable girl who turns up to training regularly. We hope that she has a successful track season this year – the winner is REBECCA O’ROURKE.

A fantastic season sees the Club Best Performance for under-13 boys award go to an athlete who won all 4 of the Essex League fixtures to earn the individual league title and lead the squad to team silver. He won gold in the county champs, the Essex Schools Year 8 event and bronze in the Essex Schools event to qualify for the English Schools event. He won Bronze in the Southern Inter Counties and came 10th in the Southern Champs. With a fine 5th in the national Mini Marathon things couldn’t have been much better for MATTHEW BLACKLOCK.

A fine second season at the club saw the Team Member award winner for under-13 boys compete in 3 of the 4 league fixtures, and help the squad to achieve the team silver medal. He also competed in the South of England Champs and the National. Good luck in the Under 15s next year ALEX KERR.

We have now come to the Club Best Performance award for Under-13 girls.  After a slightly slow start to the winter season she soon got into her stride and won the Essex Champs at Writtle and the final Essex League race. She came 20th at the Southern Champs at Brighton and 12th at the Nationals at Parliament Hill, and 20th for Essex at the Inter Counties and 17th at the English Schools. A brilliant 2nd in the London Boroughs Mini Marathon, a regular at training and a lovely smiley girl, we’re sure that NATALIE SEWELL will have a brilliant summer season !

The Under-13 girls Team Member award winner competed in 3 of the 4 Essex League races, only missing one due to competing in a schools race, and finished a fantastic 3rd place overall in the individual league standings ! She competed in the Essex Champs, the Cross Country relays, various school races and represented Essex County at the Southern and National Inter counties races. She is committed to running for the club and has shown great improvements over the winter season, and we wish her the best for some equally fantastic summer season results.  The worthy winner is CHLOE RAND.

We now come to the first of the special award where the winner has been selected by the Club’s Management Committee. The Committee can elect each year to make a special presentations to those athletes who have excelled when competing outside the League structure – for example in prestigious County, Regional and National Championships.

The first of these special awards this evening is in the Female Under-20 to Veteran category. It goes to an athlete whose fantastic achievements over the years at club, county, national and international level have been recognised many times at these evenings. She has competed and worn the club and international vests at the highest level over many, many years and this year has been no exception. She won another England vest in Spain in January and after placing 9th in the British Half Marathon championships earned her GB selection for the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia. A few weeks later saw her place 3rd in the Brighton 10k and she has just been selected to represent Great Britain in the European 10.000 Cup next week at Highgate. A club member throughout her career, and an excellent role model for younger athletes – once again the award winner is FAYE FULLERTON. Unfortunately Faye is away preparing for a race tomorrow, but we’ll see that she gets her award.

The second of these special awards is in the Female Under-13 to Under 17 age group.  An excellent winter season saw her get better and better as the season went on. Two Essex League victories won her the individual title and also lead the team to victory, and she won silver in the County and Essex Schools championships. 4th in the Southern Championships, was followed by 9th in the National, 12th in the Inter Counties and 8th in the English Schools Championships. Most recently she was an excellent 5th in the London Boroughs Mini Marathon and she has started her track season with PBs at 1500m & 3000m. The deserving winner is KATE O’NEILL.

The third and final of these special awards this evening is in the Male Under-20 to Veteran category This young man has achieved a great deal this season. Those who have had the privilege to watch him train and race knew he was heading for great things. He was picked to run for England in Spain and the East of England in the Home Countries international. He won the county cross-country championships being the first Havering runner for many years to do so and had top ten finishes in both the national championships and the inter-counties. He was part of the cross-country relay gold medal-winning team and was only the second Havering athlete in twenty years to win an Essex league senior race. He has a great future in athletics, the winner is BEN DAVIS.

We end with another special award.

It’s more than appropriate that the club’s fiftieth year brought a performance worth waiting fifty years for. From the cross country relays back in the start of October right through to the road relays at the end of March the Senior Men’s team produced results any club would envy. They took the team gold medal in the county cross country relays, helped to win the county mixed cross country relays, the gold medal in the junior men county championships, and won the county road relays. In between that they also won the Essex League and the Vets league plus medals in the Vet 40 and Vet 50 road relays. A total of 6 trophies and numerous gold, silver and bronze medals. This is down to a good group of athletes who put themselves out for the club and want to be part of the team. There are many of these team members who didn’t get awards tonight but without those, the team wouldn't be where it is today, and the team manager would like to thank them for all their efforts. We in turn would like to thank the team manager PETE WARNER by presenting him with the Services to Cross Country award.

That concludes the formalities of the evening, so in a moment could all the winner’s join us at the front for the traditional group photo.

The food will also be opened, so please help yourselves. Thank You.











All photos have been reduced in size and/or cropped from originals -

if anyone wants copies of the originals please email - Apologies a few not up to the standard of most others!

If any athlete or parent is concerned about the inclusion of any photo of themselves or their child , please drop a line to the above email address  asking that it be removed