Over the moon Gilly is Bucks’ Unsung Hero of the Year

Gilly Bettis (middle) with her Terry Cook Unsung Hero of the Year award. Picture by Ross Holkham
Gilly Bettis (middle) with her Terry Cook Unsung Hero of the Year award. Picture by Ross Holkham

Aylesbury’s Gilly Bettis says she ‘can’t stop smiling’ after winning the 2014 Terry Cook Unsung Hero of the Year award at the ninth annual Bucks & MK Sport Awards.

Almost 300 people gathered at Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre for the event that honours the heroes who help make local sport happen.

The event, which was hosted by Paralympic gold medal rower Naomi Riches and former England hockey player Roger Dakin, saw a record number of nominations and paid homage to unsung individuals and organisations from all across the area.

Gilly was presented with the prestigious unsung hero award for her commitment to netball in the Aylesbury area.

Involved with the Junior Netball League since 1989, she has supported and helped the league expand to 14 teams and for the past 11 years, she has overseen its development as chairperson, while also playing a huge role in creating, developing and sustaining junior netball provision in the area, as well as being instrumental as the chairperson of the successful Flames Netball Club.

After picking up the award, an ecstatic Gilly said: “It was wonderful to receive the unsung hero award at the Bucks & MK Sport Awards, especially as all nominees were worthy of an award by committing so much of their time to volunteering in sport.

“I can’t believe it has been over 25 years that I have been involved in netball. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute and it’s wonderful to see the children progress from learning the basics to developing into confident adult players.

“Just to see the smiles on the children’s faces at the end of each session makes it all worthwhile. I have a fabulous network of volunteers working with me that have inspired me to continue over the years.

“The Junior League provides the only opportunity for children to play netball outside of school in the area and I am just as passionate now as I was 25 years ago to see it continue in the Aylesbury Vale.

“To receive an award for volunteering in the community makes it all worthwhile. I can’t stop smiling!”

Gilly is now in with a chance of winning BBC Sports Personality of the Year’s Unsung Hero award this Sunday.

As in previous years, winners in some categories of the Bucks & MK Sport Awards feed into the regional BBC Sports Awards, and any qualifying unsung hero nominations could win in the same category at the national SPOTY.

Also picking up an award on the night was Aylesbury’s Adam Colley, who was named the Community Coach of the Year after spending 15 years coaching at grass roots. Adam has helped hundreds of children, young people and adults to take part in and benefit from sport.

Roger Fennemore, chairman of Leap – the County Sport and Activity Partnership which co-ordinated the awards – said: “This is the Bucks sporting version of the Oscars, with the message being to recognise the people behind the people in sport – all the volunteers who make sport happen. Friday was a fantastic celebration of their tireless work, and we were delighted to have organised such a successful event.”