Inspirational Hastings star wins Sussex Sports Award

Isabelle Everest
Isabelle Everest

A local star has had their achievements and efforts recognised after being crowned winners at the Sussex Sports Awards 2019, after this year’s event received a record-breaking number of nominations from across the county.

At a glittering ceremony, at the Hilton Brighton Metropole, on Friday 22 November, the Hasting-based Isabelle Everest, 13, from local Westerleigh Judokwai club, won the inspirational Active Sussex Disabled Sports Personality of the Year.

Isabelle, who has been an active member at the club since she was four years old, has diplegia cerebral palsy and is unable to walk unaided she has to use both a wheelchair and walking frame to mobilse.

Despite going under major orthopaedic surgery to both legs in 2016, in plaster for two months, followed by a year of intensive physio Isabelle didn’t give up on her dream.

She became Pan Disability European Judo Champion in 2017 and 2018, and this year saw her return form Holland as a silver medallist.

This year has also seen Isabelle take part in the Hastings half marathon, Westminster Mile and the Super Tri where she swam 400m in open water, 10k in her powered chair followed by 2.5k self-propelling her manual chair, not only raising money for charity but also to raise awareness that disability isn’t a barrier to sport.

“I’m not just the girl in the wheelchair, I am Isabelle Everest, Pan Disability European Judo Champion and one day soon to be Dr Isabelle Everest the Paediatrician,” said Isabelle.

The black-tie event, organised by Active Sussex was this year themed #SussexSuperheroes and the memorable evening was hosted by legendary GB athletics star Kriss Akabusi, who inspired and motivated the 350+ audience with tales of his glittering sports career and revered BBC radio presenter Danny Pike.

“It’s a great opportunity to celebrate success and recognise performance but also celebrate all those involved in sport, at all different levels,” enthused Akabusi.

The star runner will probably always be remembered for helping Britain clinch the gold from the mighty Americans at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo.

“That was my career highlight… being part of the British team that beat the mighty Americans,” said Akabusi. “There was a huge sense of elation, happiness and extreme joy. We accomplished what we set out to do but it was not a surprise. It’s one of those rare moments where strategies and plans come into fruition and dreams do come true.”

Sadie Mason MBE, Active Sussex Chief Executive, added: “This year was the hardest round of nominations that we have ever had to judge, so to have come out on top of such a competitive and quality field of nominees speaks volumes about what these winners have achieved.”

“Winning a Sussex Sports Award is known to have helped propel teams and individuals onto to even bigger things, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for all the winners. I’d like to also congratulate all those nominated for an award and wish everyone luck in their future sporting and physical activity endeavours.”

The Sussex Sports Awards 2019 full list of winners is available to view by visiting the Active Sussex website at www.activesussex.org

If you would like to be involved with next year's event, including sponsorship, please contact Ed Bartram, Active Sussex's Event Officer: E: ebartram@activesussex.org / T: 01273 644103.