A STAR-STUDDED assortment of Borders sporting greats arrived at the Cross Keys Hotel in Kelso on Saturday night for what truly was a celebration of local sport.
The event was the annual James McLean Trust (JMT) Awards which sees the winners of the regional sports council awards vie against each other to be named best in the Borders.
Former Southern sports editor turned Scotsman rugby writer David Ferguson acted as compere for the evening while Hawick businessmen/triathlete Kenny Short entertained the 200 or so in attendance as guest speaker.
Other than the main awards categories the event also threw out a number of surprises for local individuals who have achieved numerous successes in their various sporting lives. One of these went to TheSouthern's very own sports writer John Slorance who picked up an unsung hero award, along with Selkirk RFC's long-serving fixture secretary Mary Inglis.
John has been reporting on local sport events for the past 40 years during which he has witnessed triumphs and disappointments on the sports fields, as well as many golden moments. Highlights of his career include reporting on the Scottish Cup between his home team Hawick Royal Albert and Queen's Park at Hampden Park in the now long-gone press box that hung over the ground.
Speaking of his award this week John told us: "It was a great surprise to learn that I was to receive this award, but a great honour also.
"I have enjoyed my work tremendously over the years and my greatest pleasure is meeting and associating with the many great Borders sportsmen and women while covering their sport."
Another highlight for TheSouthern on the evening was the announcement of our own Sports Personality of the Year which went to Newcastleton Paralympic silver medalist Libby Clegg.
Libby has been described as an ordinary yet extraordinary young lady and not many would disagree.
At a young age she contracted a degenerative eye condition which has left her with only slight peripheral vision. When she runs, she sees nothing at all. Libby and guide runner Lincoln Asquith have trained relentlessly over the past four years and in September, at the age of 17, Libby competed against the world's best visually impaired sprinters to grab a silver medal at the Beijing Paralympic Games. On receiving this latest accolade Libby said: "Beijing was just an amazing experience and I will never forget it, but everything that has happened since I got back has been great.
"I love being in the Borders and everyone here has been great – so thanks to everyone for their kindness and support. I hope to repay that in the coming years and am looking forward to 2012 where I hope to go one better in London."
Gala's successful young sprinter, long jumper and Ettrick and Lauderdale junior sports personality, Demi Yorke took the Border Telegraph sports personality of the year and a James McLean Sports Scholarship.
JMT Sports Personality of the Year went to former performance winner Emily Galbraith. Emily has gone from pre-novice to advanced standard in equestrian eventing in just three seasons and won a team gold and individual silver medal in the European Young Riders Championship this year. Her current ambition is to attain an individual gold at the European Championships and to reach the top 10 at Badminton.
Selkirk RFC bagged the team award following their magnificent 2007/08 season which saw them promoted to division one, as well as lifting the Border League and Kings of the Sevens title.
Many more awards were received on the evening, each recipient and nominee having shone in their individual efforts during the past year. In his address to the guests, speaker Kenny Short summed up their achievements. He said: “To be a good athlete you need to have attitude and inspiration. Everyone who is up for an award tonight has shown they have both, as well as commitment to their sports.”
Turn to page 23 to find out who are the new inductees to the Scottish Borders Hall of Fame, also announced on Saturday night.
For video coverage of the awards ceremony go to www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk