Lifetime achievement accolade is climax of Active Burnley Awards

One of Britain’s longest-serving martial arts coaches and a teenage skier with unmatched achievements were among the winners at the Active Burnley Awards organised and run by BLC.

Our annual celebration pays tribute to those who show dedication at a range of sporting, health, and wellbeing activities at all levels, and those who work tirelessly to support individuals or community clubs, for the love of the sport or their community.

Eleven winners were announced at a glittering ceremony at Burnley Mechanics hosted by have-a-go BBC sports presenter and former Strictly Come Dancing contestant, Mike Bushell.

Mike is well known for presenting bulletins on TV and radio and has personally sampled nearly 400 different sports and activities during his Saturday morning slot on BBC Breakfast.

His wealth of experience of covering big sporting events includes reporting and presenting on the Olympics, Paralympics, Winter Olympics, football World Cups, Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games, where an interview with English swimmers went viral when he fell in a swimming pool during a live interview on BBC Breakfast.

Speaking at the night’s conclusion, host Mike Bushell told us what the awards say about Burnley and its people…


Lifetime Achievement Award – Allan Clarkin

Lifetime Achievement winner Allan Clarkin

The climax of the evening was the Lifetime Achievement Award for someone who has shown a commitment of at least 20 years to sport and active lifestyles, won by Allan Clarkin, one of Britain’s longest-serving martial arts coaches, who has been tutoring young fighters for more than 50 years.

Allan, founder of Burnley’s Black Knight gym, recognises the importance of combat sports for young men on the precipice of a life of crime or mental health issues and provides a safe environment for them to take out their aggression and open up about their problems.

Well-respected far-and-wide, Allan has been inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame and most recently was presented with the British Empire Medal for his work and the significant difference he has made in the Burnley community.

Although he said he would retire at 65, Allan is now coaching the children of some of his first students!

Despite recent health issues, Allan continues to turn up for his students daily, battling through with grace and humour.

This is what Allan had to say after receiving his award from Mike Bushell…


Club of the Year – Daneshouse FC Girls

Mehnaz Hussain, under 11s coach, and Becky Clough, Female Football Development Officer, Daneshouse FC Girls

Daneshouse FC plays a provides inclusive opportunities for people of all backgrounds and abilities to participate, fostering inclusivity and breaking down social barriers.

The club recognises the importance of gender equality, providing opportunities that empower and build the confidence of women and girls particularly within Asian communities, where sport and football is not widely accepted as an option for females.

The judges said: “It is fantastic to see the club breaking stereotypes and inspiring the next generation of women to pursue their love for the sport.”

Daneshouse FC continues to empower its participants by organising events to bring together the wider club and its teams. This includes interfaith football matches and a trip to Manchester City’s training facilities, where the players were greeted by the Premier League and Champion League trophies, making it a day to remember.

We caught up with Becky Clough, Daneshouse FC’s Female Football Development Officer, who collected the award with Mehnaz Hussain, under 11s coach…


Volunteer of the Year – Jolie Forrest

The family of Volunteer of the Year Jolie Forrest, who received the award on her behalf while she was at her school prom. Her sister Trixie is pictured holding the glass trophy.

High school student Jolie volunteers at Padiham Green Primary School, where she works tirelessly with the  dance team and has even caught the eye of the Duchess of York.

Her nomination says: “Jolie has supported the school for a number of years now and whilst she has always been a confident and talented dance teacher, her skills have developed so much that anyone could mistake her for a staff member.

“She is a huge inspiration to the children and an amazing role model they all look up to.”

Earlier this year, the Duchess of York visited Padiham Green to see all their hard work regarding health, sport, and outdoor education and watched the dance team practice with Jolie.

She commented she couldn’t believe that Jolie was still only in high school. However, once she discovered the teenager was also an amazing singer, the Duchess asked her to sing a song which she did and blew everyone away!

Jolie’s Volunteer of the Year award was collected by her family as she was at her school prom. But mum Jodie told us what it means to everyone, and shared more about Jolie’s royal encounter…


Young Achiever of the Year – Finlay Royle

Young Achiever Finlay Royle

Finlay (15) has been competing in Alpine skiing since the age of eight. He trains up to three times a week and races all over the UK and Europe.

His achievements remain unmatched in UK skiing’s 60-year history. He has won more than 15 national championships and in one 12 month period won the Irish, English, Welsh, Scottish and British titles.

Finlay has achieved number one status across every age group – under10, U12, and U14 – and he is currently the U16 number one skier in the UK. Last year, he became the second seeded skier in the UK across all age groups, narrowly missing out on the number one spot.

He is a great role model, often looking out for younger less experienced racers when competing on the national and international circuit and has been voted club captain by his peers at Ski Rossendale.

Finlay told us what winning the award meant to him…


Coach/Instructor of the Year – Emma Fielding

Coach/instructor of the Year Emma Fielding

Community Roots Project Coordinator Emma embodies the essence of a dedicated coach and mentor, elevating the lives of individuals through diverse activities spanning paddle sport, gardening, arts and crafts, and specialised outdoor sessions for individuals facing various health challenges.

Emma’s diverse initiatives like knit and natter sessions and gardening clubs serve as vital community hubs, nurturing connections and combating social isolation among older adults.

Emma’s success is underscored by the tangible achievements across her initiatives. Her collaborative efforts with Outdoors4All and NHS Lancashire have established a model for dementia-friendly outdoor activities

Her impact extends to Kemple View, where Emma has fostered therapeutic outdoor experiences, utilising nature-based programmes for mental health patients, thereby contributing significantly to their recovery journey.

Emma’s projects have been transformative. They’ve led to increased physical activity levels, reduced social isolation, and improved mental health among participants.

Shaken and surprised, Emma gave us her reaction to winning…


Individual Contribution to Active Communities – Lianne Bruce

Individual Contribution to Active Communities winner Lianne Bruce

Lianne has run Basically Cheer and Fitness for a number of years and choreographs routines for each of the different age categories.

With the cost-of-living crisis still biting, Lianne does a great job with various raffles and fundraising to help with costs for all students.

In addition, she runs a fitness class every week – one of the many activities she organises, which include toddlers’ dance classes, children’s holiday clubs, and exercise sessions for the more active.

Lianne has successfully received funding to host and deliver dance and coffee morning at Cliviger village hall, offering the session for free to encourage people to get out and meet others in their area.

The coffee morning is a great place for elderly residents to meet, chat, share, and make new friends. Her armchair exercise sessions are particularly popular and enable the elderly group to achieve a level of fitness.

Having been shortlisted previously, Lianne told us what it was like to be a winner…


Contribution to Active Communities – New Neighbours Together Project

Contribution to Active Communities winner New Neighbours Together Project represented by (ltor) Waheed Rashid, Community Development Manager, Mohammad Haidari, General Manager, Wes Winchester, Sports Activator, and Ruth Haygarth, Chief Executive

New Neighbours Together (NNT) is a charity offering a holistic range of services to support asylum-seekers and refugees in Burnley.

It helps to mitigate and overcome barriers by offering ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) classes, a free social drop in café, free hot meals, advice and advocacy, women’s programmes, and relief from food and fuel poverty through its welfare programme.

The project has become increasingly conscious of the positive effects on people’s health of regular exercise.

Funding from Sport England has enabled NNT to deliver sport and exercise activities with added value by including ESOL and healthy living, skills for life courses.

The project helps clients to improve and maintain their physical and mental health, giving them an enjoyable outlet from stress and negativity, improving their ‘feelgood factor’ and knowledge, growing confidence levels and giving them resilience to build safe and happy lives here in Burnley.

NNT was represented by Waheed Rashid, Community Development Manager, Mohammad Haidari, General Manager, Wes Winchester, Sports Activator, and Ruth Haygarth, Chief Executive, who told us what the award says about the town…


Health and Wellbeing Award – Mark Smedley

Health and Wellbeing Award winner Mark Smedley

Mark works with a number of agencies and organisations to help improve the health and wellbeing of young people and adults.

He works as a fishing coach, educating all ages, and provides a valuable experience in the outdoors.

Mark also works with local primary schools, often supporting those who struggle with classroom-based work, but also with those who have been rewarded for achieving goals within school.

He receives referrals from social prescribers for adults who are suffering with isolation and mental health.

Mark has a group of volunteers who support him to get all participants out into the fresh air, bringing people together, and engaging in a new activity and making new friends.

The team supports participants from different backgrounds and provides accessible, supportive, and safe environments for them.

Mark gave us this reaction to winning…


Burnley Together Partnership Award – Family Hubs

Burnley Together Partnership Award winner Family Hubs represented by (ltor) Sue Hopkinson, Team Manager, Daniel Fort, Shine Walk Leader, Lian Frankland, Co-founder, Shine Coaching.

The Children and Family Well-being Service, part of Children’s Services for Lancashire County Council, is supporting the development of the Family Hub Network across the borough.

The Family Hub Network works collaboratively with other early help providers offering support to children, young people, and their families.

Their aim is to understand the needs of the community and make connections to services across the borough, ensuring they are working together with shared outcomes and effective governance.

The network has celebrated many successes in Burnley since its official launch in September 2023. These include a new service delivered by East Lancashire Hospital Trust Maternity Tobacco Dependency Team, which supports mums-to-be to quit smoking.

A partnership between Children and Family Well-being Service and Shine Coaching has seen the development of a weekend activity session engaging dads, male carers, and their children in a guided walk in a local park.

These are just some of the many successful partnerships that have developed under the Family Hubs network in Burnley.

Family Hubs was represented by Sue Hopkinson, Team Manager, Daniel Fort, Shine Walk Leader, and Lian Frankland, Co-founder, Shine Coaching. Sue shared this reaction with us…


Primary School of the Year – St Joseph’s Park Hill

Staff from St Joseph’s Park Hill, Primary School of the Year (ltor) Miss Grillo, Sport Subject Lead, Mrs Taylor, Early Years Practice and Forest School Lead, Mrs Whitehead, Head Teacher, and Mrs Windle, Learning Support Assistant.

Teaching pupils to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle is one of the school’s core values and it underpins everything they do.

Every school day, children take part in the Daily Mile, adding up the miles they run to win marathon wristbands.

All pupils take part in weekly forest school lessons which include orienteering and regular walks.

All Key Stage 2 pupils attend weekly swimming lessons, and the school holds its own annual swimming gala for all children from years 2 to 6.

Targeted intervention is provided to pupils who require support with fundamental movement skills and Bikeability is taught at KS2.

All this is in addition to timetabled PE, games, and dance lessons.

St Joseph’s has achieved the Platinum School Games Mark since 2018 and is on target to achieve it again this year.

All pupils, including pre-school children, have 60 minutes of physical activity a day and staff aim to ensure that 100% of children from years 1 to year 6 have the opportunity to represent the school in a sporting event at least once in the academic year.

Girls’ football sessions are held at lunchtimes and all the girls took part in #LETGIRLSPLAY, the English FA’s biggest ever football session.

We caught up with staff from St Joseph’s as they left the stage. The school was represented by Miss Grillo, Sport Subject Lead, Mrs Taylor, Early Years Practice and Forest School Lead, Mrs Whitehead, Head Teacher, and Mrs Windle, Learning Support Assistant. Here’s Mrs Whitehead tells us about all the work that’s gone into winning the award…


All of our winners will now go forward to the Active Lancashire Awards, where they will pit their achievements against those chosen from similar award scheme throughout the county. The awards will be held at Crow Wood, in Burnley, on Friday 15th November.





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