Grand National winning jockey Ryan Mania has been named Ettrick & Lauderdale Sports Personality for the second year running.
At their annual awards ceremony, held in Gala RFC’s Netherdale clubrooms, the regional sports council welcomed a large gathering of the area’s talented sportsmen and women.
And all were in agreement that Mania’s achievement of becoming the first Scot in 117 years to win the National in April of this year deserved the highest accolade available.
After receiving his trophies, Mania told The Southern: “It’s truly brilliant. It’s nice to be recognised in your area and I can’t believe how well the people in the Borders have responded to my success last year.
“It’s been a bit overwhelming, really.”
He admitted that his memory of the great race is vague and said even when he is watching it back the whole thing is a bit surreal.
“Everyone has their own version of events, though, and it’s great to hear the individual stories of what people were doing on the day,” he said.
“I think I am enjoying my racing more than ever now and am looking forward to the next few months.”
Another of the evening’s worthy winners was Gala RFC utility back Craig Dods who picked up the Junior Coach of the Year award, not only in recognition of his work with the Mini Maroons, but also his time spent with BSLT/Scottish FA as part of the football development coaching squad.
As well as being a great coach, Craig manages to mix playing rugby for Gala and continuing his studies – he has already qualified with a BSC in Sport and Exercise and is currently completing his honours degree this year.
He told us: “It all works quite well as I do the football on a Thursday night and then the Mini Maroons on a Saturday morning before I have to go and play myself.
“I really want to make a career out of coaching, so it’s great to be getting some practice in at two of my local clubs.”
Melrose RFC Ladies’ coach Mike Bleasdale was the recipient of the Coach of the Year award.
Mike, who relinquished the title of coach earlier this season, has been with the team since its inception in 1993 and has seen four of his protégés receive full Scotland caps.
Selkirk hockey talent Emily Newlands lifted the Junior Sports Personality prize, having represented her country at Under-16, 18 and 21 levels.
The much-documented Gala Harriers won Team of the Year while the equally high-profile Fjordhus Reivers Hockey Club took the award for Best Club.
Last, but by no means least, was the award given by the Scottish Association for Local Sports Councils for Service to Local Sport which went to Rick Kenney in recognition of his involvement in judo, wrestling and Scotland’s 2014 Commonwealth Games bid.
A former sporting and coaching employee with the local authority, it was stressed that even then Rick was a dedicated volunteer, giving many hours of commitment in numerous capacities before becoming more fully involved in the third sector as a volunteer after his retirement three years ago.