Sports awards could make a comeback

A GLITTERING annual awards ceremony to honour local sporting stars could be revived.

Morpeth Town Council has been asked to consider restoring the Castle Morpeth Sports Awards to their former glory as a permanent fixture in the calendar.

The honours recognised achievements in 10 different sporting categories, but fell by the wayside in the re-organisation of local government in 2009 when the former borough council was closed down.

Now a working group has been asked to look into the issue and assess whether it is practicable to bring them back.

Coun Derek Thompson said they could provide a lasting tribute to Tony Bray, who was a fervent supporter of local sport, particularly through his work at Morpeth Harriers, and who helped to organise the former awards.

“I think it would be an excellent thing for the town council to take this over,” said Coun Thompson.

“It would be a way of remembering the late Tony Bray, who did such a lot for sport in Morpeth.

“It wouldn’t cost a fortune and it is something that Morpeth Town Council and the community could benefit from.

“In a year when we have got the Olympics it would be something of a negative message if we didn’t support this in some shape or form.”

The request was considered by the council’s Finance and General Purposes Committee last month.

Councillors agreed they would like to support the awards in theory, but more work must be done to assess the resource implications, both in terms of staff workloads and financial considerations.

Members said they will also have to decide whether to reduce the number of awards to restrict them to the Morpeth area, or work with other town and parish councils to keep the borough-wide theme.

Coun Mark Horton said: “I would expect this to be fairly prestigious for the area, and for Northumberland. As such, I would expect it to require an amount of staff involvement, as well as financial resources.

“If we are going to do it, let’s do it knowing what effect it is going to have on us.”

He added: “I suspect that if we try to squeeze this down to just Morpeth we could be sending out the wrong message when we are supposed to be working with other parishes.

“We need to take this to other parishes so I don’t think it is something we can come to a decision quickly about.

“There is a lot of potential for working with other parishes, and even expanding it perhaps.”

It was also suggested by Coun Les Cassie that members of sports clubs could be asked to play a part in the organisation of the awards evening should the council agree to restore it.

Members said it would be nice to be able to host the first re-launched ceremony this year, or perhaps incorporate some of the trophies in the annual Morpeth Civic Awards. However, the time-scale may be too tight to draw up firm plans.

The authority’s communications group will gather information about the previous awards and assess the resource implications to report back to the committee in a few months’ time. A decision will then be made on how to proceed further.

Committee Chairman David Parker said: “We are minded to pursue this as a possibility and will refer it to the communications group.

“The council would then be in a better position to know what resources might be required, what work might be required and whether we feel it is something we can cope with.

“We are not ready to give an immediate response. We need to do some work and see what it leads to.”