I have been attending The Canterbury Academy Sports Partnership events for several months now and have seen, first hand, the fantastic work they do in their local community with the Primary Schools. I was, however, unaware of the plethora of sporting talent they have within the Academy itself. Last night, it was my absolute pleasure to have been invited to their 2018 Sports Awards Evening.

It felt like I was given the full VIP Treatment from the moment I arrived. After being introduced to Phil Relf, the Academy’s Director of Sport who was hosting the event, I was shown to my seat where I had the perfect view to cover the proceedings.

The audience consisted of award nominees, parents, Academy Staff and representatives of local organisations and Sports Clubs. It was very busy, which is testament to how highly the Academy is thought of within their community. While everyone was settling down at their tables, we were treated to a performance from a range of songs from the school band.

John McAvoy’s inspirational Key Note Speech

After a brief welcome message from Phil Relf and a fantastic performance from the Academy’s dance students, the Awards Ceremony was underway. As the event was being introduced, special thanks were given to the organisations who support the provision of sport within the school. Key sponsor, Lifestyle Fitness, Marathon Sports, Charlie Harris, The Canterbury Forest of Blean Rotary Club and The Mary Edmondson Trust all warranted a special mention.

The first half of the presentation consisted of a number of awards for students from Canterbury Primary School, presented by Ben Hawkins, followed by Rebecca Standing’s presentation of the High School Awards. Each award winner was greeted with a hearty round of applause and, as they approached the stage, a short video was shown to showcase the winner’s talents. The standards were amazingly high. From the youngest winners, all the way through to those at the upper end of the school, it was clear that sport features very prominently at the Academy. The achievements of numerous County, Regional and even National level sports stars were celebrated throughout the ceremony. A full list of all the winners can be found in our gallery below this article.

After a short interval came the Key Note Speech. This year’s guest speaker was John McAvoy, an International Ironman Triathlete and holder of several Indoor Rowing World Records. John’s story was truly inspiring. The audience sat transfixed as he explained, in unflinching detail, how a life of crime, incarceration and redemption had let to him being where he is today … the only Nike Ironman Triathlete in the World, putting him on the same sporting platform as the likes of Ronaldo, Nadal and Mo Farah. The message was inspirational … if John could achieve his goals from such a low starting point in his life, with hard work these young sports stars really can go on to achieve greatness. The only thing in their way is themselves.

John seemed truly humbled by the response he received from the audience as they applauded his story and subsequent achievements.

He remained on stage to help present the remaining awards: The High School Specialist Awards, Marathon Sports Scholarships and the main award of the evening, The Canterbury Academy Sports Personality Of The Year.

Tamara Fournillier-Onadeko – receiving her award from John McAvoy

This year’s winner was Tamara Fournillier-Onadeko. Tamara is an extremely talented National Basketball champion with a very promising future ahead of her in elite sport. She was described as an inspiration to her peers and the younger students in the school and, from the reaction of the audience, was clearly a popular choice for the award.

As the ceremony ended, John McAvoy stayed for photos and to speak individually with students and parents. He was clearly impressed with what he’d seen throughout the evening and spoke about the wealth of young sporting talent on display.

I was lucky to have a chat with him about the work Educational Life are doing in the local community to help young people make the right choices in their lives. He was genuinely interested in helping young people and encouraging them to pursue their dreams.

I would really like to thank Phil Relf for inviting me along to this event, and look forward to working more closely with The Canterbury Academy in the future. I would also like to thank John McAvoy for taking the time out of his training schedule to speak at the ceremony.I am sure his message will resonate with the young audience members for a long time. I know it will with myself.

Congratulations to all of the worthy winners celebrated throughout the evening. Maybe, one day, your names will be up there alongside those of your sporting heroes. I certainly hope so.

Please enjoy our gallery of the Awards Ceremony and feel free to share this article with anyone who may be interested.

If you would like Educational Life to attend your sports club or community organisation, please drop me an email on dave@educational-life.org