This award is named in honour of former Havering Sports Council President Doug Riden, who passed-on in 2002, and who himself gave a lifetime of honorary service to local Havering sport.
This goes to NEIL WALKER, who has enjoyed a brilliant career as a tennis player and then turned his attention to coaching, at which he is both esteemed and respected.
As a player he was selected for the Great Britain Junior Team and became our British Under 18 singles champion - beating a certain Tim Henman on route to the final! He was invited to train at the world famous Nick Bolliterie Tennis Academy in Florida, which has produced 12 Grand Slam winners - including Billie Jean King and John McEnroe. Unfortunately things didn't go Neil's way when a string of injuries ended his playing career, whereupon he decided to take up coaching.
Coaching commenced at Southampton's Europa Tennis Centre before he made his name in Havering by coaching at Gidea Park Tennis Club for 4 years and then at Upminster's Cranston Park Tennis Club for the next 22 years - and still counting! He's coached many National and County players and in excess of 70 Championship winning teams have benefited from his input. He's active in both junior and senior divisions and operates at National, Regional and County levels. He coached Coopers Coburn teams which won National Schools titles 3 times-in-5 years. He also coaches former Havering Sports Council award winner Oliver Beadle. Neil was named "Essex Performance Coach-of-the-Year" in 2006 and in 2015 gained the "Jack Petchey Outstanding Leader" award. After a long injury spell he tried playing again; going straight into a high-level tournament, in the International Tennis Federation over 45s category. Here he gained the British No.1 spot and a world ranking of 32. Neil still coaches at Cranston Park and at 7 different schools (primary and senior) while continuing to work with performance players of all ages. How does he fit it all in?