THERE was no shortage of worthy winners, but only one person got a standing ovation.

Mary Howlett was named unsung hero after dedicating almost half a century to Chinnor Tennis Club.

One of their founders in 1971, the now-octogenarian has been involved continuously in a variety of roles ever since.

Read also: OXFORDSHIRE SPORTS AWARDS: The full list of winners

In what is always a fiercely-competitive category, Howlett was stunned to receive the award after the audience took to their feet in appreciation.

And despite the title on the trophy, she insisted that she never feels her efforts have gone unnoticed.

Howlett said: “The boys and girls we have taught over the years have really appreciated what we have done.

“There are hundreds of people who do things like I do, so I really feel honoured to represent them all tonight.”

When it came to personal highlights, Howlett has particularly fond memories of her early years at the club.

She said: “I think it was just so wonderful to be the junior organiser, especially in the 1970s and 1980s.

“We just used to take them to another tennis club and start hitting.

“My backhand is OK these days, but my legs aren’t so good though.”

Cherwell Volleyball Club were recognised in the junior team of the year prize.

They broke new ground for the county by clinching an English crown and have since gone on to play at an international tournament in Poland.

Several members have also had recognition with call-ups to the national side.

Coach John Ballance said: “It’s very special.

“It’s never happened before that a team from Oxfordshire have won a national championships, which was shown live on TV.”

Captain Zeph Goriely added: “We only started playing a few years ago, so to win a national championship was amazing.”

The adult team of the year title went to Banbury Cricket Club, who were runners-up in the Home Counties Premier League and won its T20 competition alongside the Bernard Tollett Oxfordshire Cup.

Shiplake Stars Netball were the judges’ pick for the community club award.

They have grown rapidly, with a wide range of teams.

Coach Tamryn Settle said: “We work with women and girls from eight to 80.

“We have ladies that come for walking netball who haven’t played for decades.

“We founded the club three years ago and it’s just grown and grown. We have hundreds playing every week.”

Fellow coach Juliet Coles added the focus for them was not performance.

She said: “It wasn’t about that, it was about getting everyone involved in the community.

“It’s amazing.”

Another group highlighted for their contribution was Run Ladies Faringdon.

Claire Dash and Jon Blades were named community coaches of the year.

Dash admitted it was formed following a simple message on social media and now they have dozens running and socialising together.

She said: “It all started from an advert I answered on Facebook.

“We had eight women complete a couch to 5k in the first few weeks and it’s just gone from there.”

West Oxfordshire Wheelchair Dance were a popular winner of the disability sport award.

Having started out offering dance classes, this year they achieved success at the Paradance UK National Championships with 12 medals, including five golds.

Instructor Lizzie Large said: “When the club was set up I thought it would be two or three people every week. I didn’t think we would be national champions.

“I’m so proud of them because they are amazing people. I’m so pleased to call them my friends.”

The active award went to Wheels for All, who offer opportunities to anyone who cannot ride a two-wheeled bike.

Steve Unwin said: “It’s a great honour to win and reflects the hard work put in by the team.”

Bure Park Primary’s efforts to combine exercise with learning saw them named active school of the year.

Teacher Paul Davis said: “The children are the driving force behind everything. They fully deserve it.”