Shining a spotlight on the athletics and running volunteers in London

Last night we wrapped up our regional volunteer award evenings by celebrating the outstanding work of athletics and running volunteers in London who have worked tirelessly to help keep our sport going through such a challenging year.

Broadcast live on YouTube, we announced the 2021 Regional Volunteer Award winners and runners-up for London.

The 2021 Regional Volunteer Award winners and runners-up for the London region are:

Club of the Year: Havering AC

Lockdown has been no barrier to success for the athletes of Havering AC. As soon as it was allowed the club began training again, and later in the year they held two members-only competitions with some excellent results. In 2021 the club sent athletes to a broad variety of competitions, winning most of their fixtures and winning more than 80 medals in the Essex County Championships.

The club prides itself on being friendly, inclusive and welcoming, and has an excellent programme for the development of volunteers. Those wishing to progress into coaching are mentored and given useful experience before receiving funding from the club to attend formal training. Likewise, for those wishing to officiate, volunteers are given on the job experience at local level before receiving funding to attend courses.

Runner-up: London Frontrunners

Coach of the Year: Andy Frankish, Blackheath and Bromley Harriers AC, Kent

Ensuring his athletes could keep training through lockdown, and recruiting and training volunteers to assist him, has meant Andy Frankish’s group of female athletes has become a successful, well- connected team with a great future in steeplechase, cross country and middle distance running. As well as arranging coaching via Zoom, Andy helped his group bond by arranging trips away including a day at the beach and a visit to a water park. Alongside this, once restrictions eased, he organised parents to manage small, Covid-compliant groups, enabling him to keep his group in regular training.

All this has meant that Andy has had to develop new skills, to add to his considerable experience, enabling him to deliver online as well as in person.

Runner-up: Nathaniel Senior

Newcomer to officiating: Luke Finch, Woodford Green AC

Luke became interested in photo finish when aged just twelve and despite being too young to gain any qualifications he persevered as a helper until gaining his Level 2 qualification when he turned 16 in 2021. Luke has continued to develop his expertise in photo finish and now operates the photo finish system at club and county level, also offering his services at other venues including Lee Valley. Alongside this, Luke’s passion for innovation has led him to develop his own software which enables results to be posted directly to the internet from various photo finish systems.

Despite his success Luke remains both modest and humble; he is happy to be mentored by those around him, and also takes time to encourage his peers to develop an interest in officiating.

Runner-up: Simon Baker

Unsung Hero: Kevin White, Committee member, Vice President, Coach and Official, Havering AC

A member at Havering for 45 years, Kevin White has turned his hand to almost all volunteer roles within the club, making him not only a most valued member, but also an excellent source of advice and inspiration. As a Level 3 Field Judge he has often stepped in to help, so ensuring events can go ahead, and as a coach and team manager where he shows a real rapport and excellent communication with his athletes. All these qualities have come together to make Kevin a real asset to his club, ensuring not only that his athletes stay fit and well, but also helping to boost morale when results have not matched expectations or training is proving tough.

Runner-up: Liz Aires

Young Volunteer of the Year: Katie Ennis, Havering AC

An enthusiastic trainee official, Katie Ennis has helped her club come through the last two difficult years by inspiring and strengthening their existing team of volunteers. Katie has worked hard to gain a range of officiating experience, and will soon be able to gain both her Level 1 and 2 qualifications. As well as helping with setting up events, including setting up EDM equipment, marking sector lines and putting out equipment, she has also found time to compete as often as possible in discus and pole vault.

Katie is well liked and admired for her friendly, enthusiastic approach which enable her to connect well with both athletes and officials, and she gains great reports from all those she volunteers with.

Runner-up: George Tovey

RunTogether Group of the Year: Coulsdon Runners

Constant encouragement, a positive approach and a welcoming attitude. These are just three of the many qualities that have made Coulsdon Runners such a successful group. No matter what your age or ability, the group has something to offer all comers, both online during lockdown, when they offered weekly challenges and plenty of encouragement via social media, and also in person, with a real community spirit throughout the group.

Very much seen as a safe place where anyone can take part, the group takes complete beginners and provides training plans to help them become regular, confident runners. No runner is ever left behind and all successes are celebrated by the group as a whole.

Leader of the Year: Ian Farr, Harrow AC

Ian’s selfless dedication to his club has meant that grassroots athletics continues to be available to all, despite lockdown, and has also enabled the club to offer athletes opportunities to compete when competitions were hard to find. As Head Coach he is always busy, be it organising meetings, ensuring safe training environments during the Covid restrictions, encouraging young athletes to try different disciplines or helping athletes get to events. He has inspired those around him to also give their time to help the club succeed, and is a constant source of new ideas and suggestions for improvement. To crown all this Ian also set up a series of five open meetings over six weeks at the club track, allowing more than 600 athletes to come and compete, including a highly popular vets only race.

Runner-up: Louise Owen

Innovation in athletics and running: James Joy, Trent Park Running Club

James Joy’s response to lockdown was to set up the Coacha app on the club website and tailor it to enable club athletes to form small, Covid-secure running groups where they could feel safe, know the aims of the group and also who else might be in that group. This enabled club members to stay both motivated and in touch, despite the restrictions imposed by Covid, and has played a major part in keeping the club together. Alongside this James has used the app to facilitate membership management and subscription payments. James is always happy to answer members questions and deal with any digital tasks the club may require.

Services to athletics or running: Bridget Yule, Team Administrator and Championships Organiser, Southwark

Bridget Yule has been involved with the London Schools’ Athletics Association for the past twenty years. Latterly her role has been ensuring all London’s young athletes get to competitions across the country, completing all kinds of administrative tasks, from booking overnight accommodation, to communicating with schools and clubs to ensure their athletes know they are eligible for selection.

Bridget has combined meticulous attention to detail with excellent organisational skills, ensuring everything always runs smoothly. Most of her work is done behind the scenes, including compiling results and writing press releases. There is no doubt that as she now goes into a well-deserved retirement, she will be much missed by the thousands of young athletes she has helped.

Runner-up: Jean Burgess


Volunteering

We are incredibly proud of the heritage of volunteering within our sport; from coaches to officials, run leaders to volunteer coordinators, tuck shop organisers to club secretaries. Our sport simply wouldn’t happen without volunteers. Click here to see how you can get involved.