VOTING has been fast and furious over the last month as the Borders public get behind their favourite sporting achievers.
And, with only a week to go, TheSouthern can reveal that almost 5,000 votes have been cast in the Inspiration, Personality and Team of the Year categories for the inaugural Borders Sport and Leisure Celebration of Sport Awards.
Back in December, a specially-selected panel of experts, chosen by the organisers, consisting of BSL senior sports development officer John McBay, Scotsman journalist David Ferguson, former editor of the Border Telegraph and freelance rugby writer Atholl Innes, Radio Borders sports broadcaster Stuart McFarlane and myself, on behalf of TheSouthern, put their heads together and came up with nine worthy candidates, three in each category, to go forward for public vote.
Since opening the phone lines in January there has been a steady stream of votes and in some categories things are very tight indeed. Border Sport and Leisure marketing manager Emily McGowan told TheSouthern: “We are really overwhelmed by the response and it has been really exciting watching the votes come in.
“There is no time for complacency, though. We have a week left and everything is still to play for.”
For the panel also, there is still work to do.
As well as the public vote categories, a shortlist of nominees in three other categories were also revealed from which the panel will determine the final winner.
These are: Event of the Year (Jim Clark Rally; Tour of Britain; Jedburgh Running Festival); Club of the Year (Gala Harriers; Peebles Cycling Club; Peebles Netball Club); Coach of the Year (George Graham, rugby; Peter Gardiner, judo; Alex Jordan, swimming).
Additional awards include Junior Sports Personality of the Year, Scottish Borders Disability Sport Group Performance of the Year, Inductee to the Scottish Borders Hall of Fame and Unsung Hero Award.
The winners of all of the categories of the Borders Sport and Leisure Celebration of Sport Awards will be revealed at a special evening ceremony at the MacDonald Cardrona Hotel on Friday, March 1, hosted by renowned TV presenter and sports journalist Alison Walker.
As well as being the first female football voice on radio, Alison enjoyed an eight-year stint presenting the sports news on TV’s Reporting Scotland. She’s been lucky enough to interview hundreds of sports stars and latest highlights include Michael Phelps and Pele at London 2012.
At next Friday’s event she will be putting her talents to good use when quizzing guests, such as SFA Development Officer Jim Fleeting and our own Paralympic medalist Libby Clegg.
Alison told TheSouthern: “It’s great to be part of the Borders Sport and Leisure Celebration of Sport Awards, it promises to be a memorable night.
“It is hugely important to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our athletes in what has been a fantastic last nine months or so of sport.
“Sport is riding high currently, and the momentum is building towards the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Awards evenings like this play their part in inspiring others to work hard and follow their dreams.”
Limited tickets are still available for the event at £30 each and can be purchased by contacting Borders Sport & Leisure on 01896 756274. The ticket includes drinks on arrival, and a sumptuous dinner, followed by the awards ceremony.