Coach of the year - by royal approval

Q Shillingford is presented with his community coach of the year award by Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua at the Lancaster Hotel, London
Q Shillingford is presented with his community coach of the year award by Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua at the Lancaster Hotel, London
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Gosport ABC's Mateusz Bereznicki celebrates with Tony Gaze, left

Emerging pair shine on national stage

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Q Shillingford is celebrating being named Sport Coach UK community coach of the year.

The Heart of Portsmouth (HOP) boss was handed the huge honour on a glittering gala evening in London.

Shillingford was presented with the award by Princess Royal, Princess Anne on a night which represents his biggest-ever achievement.

He picked up the title as one of 13 winners from 400 nominations across 35 different sports.

Shillingford rubbed shoulders with the likes of Olympic gold medallists Chris Hoy (cycling) and Anthony Joshua (boxing) at the Lancaster Hotel.

The HOP man admitted the award arrived as a shock as he went up against tough opposition from the world of cycling and athletics.

Shillingford explained he felt the award was recognition for not only him but all of his team who have battled to help make his club a success.

He stated to be handed the gong by Princess Anne, along with a £1,000 cheque for his club, was unsurpassed in his lifetime in sport.

‘I’m so pleased and it is so nice to be honoured. I can’t believe it – it’s unbelievable, really,’ said Shillingford.

‘It was totally unexpected because there were so many other excellent coaches being recognised.

‘I didn’t really think I had a chance but knew it would still be a great evening to take some of my coaches along to.

‘When my name was read out it blew me away.

‘I had to get on the stage and was handed my award by Princess Anne, which was an amazing honour.

‘It was a really inspiring evening. Listening to coaches from different sports and those working in the disabled world and Paralympics was an eye-opener.

‘You realise that people go through the same things you experience in whatever field they are in.

‘There were all kinds of people there.

‘I received my cheque from Chris Hoy and was on the same table as Anthony Joshua.

‘It’s not just recognition for me but also all the people who dedicate their time to the club.

‘It’s also recognition for Portsmouth and everything that is going on here.

‘I’ve been around in boxing since I was nine. I’ve won three national titles and am an advanced England coach. But this really tops everything.’

The award, arriving in such a memorable year for British sport, made picking up the success even more special for Shillingford.

He admitted receiving it from Princess Anne will live long in the memory.

His encounter with the royal made a big impression, as she showed her knowledge of not only boxing but also HOP’s successes.

Shillingford said: ‘Princess Anne was really down to earth but also very knowledgeable.

‘We had a chance to speak to her one-on-one at the awards.

‘She was cracking one-liners and was very approachable.

‘She knew her stuff and talked a lot about Heart of Portsmouth, the Boxing Awards scheme I wrote, our clubmark and working at grass-roots level.

‘To hear her say that we are a flagship for all clubs in the country and to keep doing what we’re doing was a very proud moment.

‘It was great to also have Anthony Joshua on our table, as well as GB boxing coach, Dave Allaway, who was named world coach of the year.

‘It’s a night I’ll never forget.’