HAVING scooped a prestigious regional prize already in 2017, Avon Valley Runners are chasing another accolade after being shortlisted for the Club of the Year award, sponsored by Sweets Galore.

Avon Valley are based in West Wiltshire and cater for runners of all ability and experience levels – be it on road, cross-country or fell, or in multi-sport activities such as triathlon. The club was formed in 1986 from the road running section of Trowbridge & District AC and now boasts a membership of around 500.

A hugely successful 12 months saw Avon Valley named Club of the Year for the South West at the England Athletics Volunteer Awards in October, while the performances of their runners made sure of top spot in the Wiltshire Road Race League and promotion in the Gwent Cross-Country League.

Avon Valley’s commitment to the local community saw the club’s volunteer workforce raise funds for the construction of a new purpose-built training track at Trowbridge Rugby Club, while many beginners have been encouraged to participate in Couch to 5k and 5-10k progression groups.

Also in contention for our Club of the Year honour are Stratton Juniors, who provide grassroots football for an increasing number of players across the age and ability spectrum in Swindon.

More than 220 playing members have the chance to participate in a safe and enjoyable environment, with Stratton promoting an ethos that puts development and enjoyment before winning. The club encourage all youngsters to play in the right spirit and aim to help them become better people through playing sport.

Four new teams were introduced at Stratton during the year, taking the total number to 19. They can now boast a men’s outfit, two teams at U18 level and an Ability Counts side.

Stratton were highly commended in the Charter Standard Club of the Year section at the Wiltshire FA Awards in July and have also become a Nike Partner Club, which entitles coaches to education bursaries.

The club’s community links in Stratton St Margaret were further strengthened by an investment of £3,000 that saw a defibrillator installed at their Meadowcroft base.

Completing the three-club award shortlist are Swindon Ice Hockey Academy, who have enjoyed another year of continued growth.

Based at the Link Centre and intrinsically linked to National Ice Hockey League outfit Swindon Wildcats, the Academy offers youngsters a fantastic opportunity to learn the sport under a fine team of coaches and is reckoned to be the largest of its kind anywhere in the country.

As well as keeping fit and developing the many skills required to be successful on the ice in a fun environment, children also have the chance to participate in tournaments both at home and in towns across the country.

The Academy’s forward-thinking initiatives helped to secure the prestigious Chairman’s Award for the South back in 2016.

We profile the three finalists in the Coach/Manager of the Year category at the 2017 Wiltshire Sports Awards

The 2017 Wiltshire Sports Awards, set up by the Swindon Advertiser, Gazette & Herald and Wiltshire Times in conjunction with Wiltshire & Swindon Sport (WASP).

Newsquest Wiltshire group sports editor Owen Houlihan, WASP CEO Steve Boocock and 1968 Olympic 400m hurdles champion David Hemery will meet in January to decide the award winners.

All the winners will be announced at the Corn Exchange celebration ceremony at the end of January, which will include an audience with 1985 World Snooker champion and now-television commentator Dennis Taylor, who will be guest speaker.

The evening will be a celebration of all of the winners for all of the categories, and tickets are available priced at £15 per adult and £9 per child, to include a buffet.

Tickets can be purchased by calling Ian Parker on 01793 501731 or email wiltshiresportsawards@newsquest.co.uk.