Celebrating our unsung heroes in London

It’s that time of year again, where we shine the spotlight on the unsung heroes of our sport. Our inspirational volunteers, who give their time, commitment and incredible energy week in and out.

With 9 regional awards ceremonies, and 9 awards categories, it’s an amazing celebration of the people across our sport. Last night the ceremony took place in London; a fantastic evening celebrating volunteers across the region who have made outstanding contributions to athletics and running.

Award categories…

  • Coach of the year
  • Official of the year
  • Athletics or Running Club of the year
  • Inclusion
  • Run Together Group
  • Run Together Leader
  • Services to Athletics or Running
  • Volunteer of the year
  • Young volunteer

Drum roll… and the winners are…

Coach of the year

Marius Guei: His youngest athletes hang on every word and action and nervous new recruits are reassured within a first session. Marius instils discipline and great attitude, his older athletes start their warm-up independently, and get equipment ready and make their own contributions, spending 15 minutes leading the warm-up session for U11 for Quad Kids on Sundays. He sought out specialist coaches to assist with his highest-level achieving athlete. There’s no ego and no raised voices, and he gets results.

Always willing to make space and time for a new recruit, Marius has contributed hugely to Highgate Harriers young athletes section expanding in depth and standard. He’s more than just a coach within the club, his enthusiasm and warm personality creates such a positive effect on his athletes and others around him. It’s a pleasure to watch him coach and his level of commitment is astounding – he fits in full-time work around hours of training, travelling to support athletes at competitions, national level to local league and supporting the club in all manner of ways such as coaching additional sessions put on in collaboration with the City of London.

Official of the year

Kevin Diedrick: Kevin Diedrick is a Field Judge who started officiating in 1999, since then he has progressed to National Level 4 and undertaken his CMA. He’s now often utilised by UKA / EA / SEAA as Referee, NTD, and Technical Manager.

Kevin has been very active in mentoring officials and has had 5 graduate to Level 4 through with this support. He officiates at some 60-70 meetings per year from local leagues through to Regional, National and International events. Kevin is a supporter of World Para events as well as Help for Heroes and the Invictus Games and has expanded his officiating interests and is additionally a Track Judge and Photo-Finish official. His photo-finish work is in support of the Woodford Green system, which is hired out to raise revenue for the club.

Kevin is very self-effacing; telling everyone that he is just a run of the mill official when he is clearly not. He is highly skilled and assiduous in his officiating and scrupulously fair. His approach to officiating warms him to new officials once they get to know him; he has a ’tough’ exterior that is purely for show. He is willing to help any official progress and has actively mentored many officials; currently he is helping 2 or 3. Kevin is universally liked by officials and athletes as they know he will always assist within the rules and give everyone a fair shake.

Kevin is keen to support many non-mainstream groups and has travelled at his own expense to Canada to officiate at the Invictus Games. Kevin is keen to support his club (Woodford Green AC with Essex Ladies) and does so by running the clubhouse bar for club night and functions, as well as helping with the photo-finish system rentals to raise funds for the club – his help is invaluable.

Athletics or Running Club of the year

Thames Valley Harriers: TVH support people of all abilities to be their best. They encourage young athletes to take up the sport through ‘kids on track’ scheme, working with schools, a range of groups and events. They work with people from all social backgrounds and strive to ensure the sport remains inclusive and accessible to all via fundraising. They offer competition at all levels, from helping with the local parkrun, to competing locally, regionally and nationally.

Competitions include met league, SAL, UKWAL, BAL and YDL. They organise multiple events including cross country, open meetings, relays, SAL and YDL. They have great partnerships with schools, Uni’s (imperial in particular), parkrun, track academy, SEAA and local sports clubs. They compete at the highest level – winning UKWAL prem, BAL div 1 and women represented GB in ECCC and have several international athletes.

It’s a social club with fantastic coaches, officials and volunteers. Schemes to train up officials and coaches, learning from experience. TVH should win for a number of reasons – they consistently perform at the top level, having represented GB at the ECCC regularly during the last 5 years. However, it’s TVH’s ability to achieve this whilst remaining a friendly local club atmosphere that sets them apart. Everyone’s involvement in the club, from coaches and officials to volunteers that help make cake and teas, contributes to the club achievements and successes. They are social and find that friends and family want to get involved and give back. They work hard to help the community, the clubhouse is used as a meeting point after parkrun, with many of our members volunteering week in week out, and have links with schools, universities, and other clubs, and organise events so there’s more to do in the area. They are truly passionate about athletics!

Inclusion

S Factor Academy: The only club in SE London if not London, who has an open-door policy for those with any disability and/or additional need. Our PAN disability sessions are diverse, innovative and ahead of the curve. We run internal competitions once per term encouraging Run/Jump/Throw on a level playing field in a competitive and safe environment. Athletes attend events alongside coaches/volunteers/family (Little half & Westminster mile) while pushing for external events (Quadkids, LICC etc.) to include inclusive categories, pushing the envelope to ensure inclusion.

Unique attendees of over 120 throughput figures for athlete and volunteer hours increase year on year. Innovative themed sessions enabling retention of athletes with the FUNdamentals (red nose day, sports days, sport relief). Fully self-sufficient and now running for 6+ years, the club is equipped with para specific competition equipment (racing wheelchairs, seated throwing frame, adapted and sensory equip) plus future innovations like RaceRunners.

Disability Coordinator, lead inclusive coach, Mental Health Champion and Guide Leader, Adam Thomas, is behind the helm, this section of the club is growing in strength, with an holistic approach to inclusive athletics, this group is setting the benchmark for clubs around the country.

Run Together Group

Run with Andy: Andy has been working extremely hard in the Borough of Brent and takes adults from all backgrounds and abilities, for both group walks and runs twice a week. He is well respected and has made great strides in terms of promoting activities in a fun and enjoyable way. He has also been featured in the Brent Magazine, and has his own billboard promoting health and fitness near Wembley Stadium. He is dedicated to his cause, and always friendly and approachable. We have all noticed a difference and everyone who attends his sessions have all improved their fitness levels, have gone on to run 5k races, 8/9 mile walks.

His group that was started in 2017, have grown in confidence and have gone from strength to strength! He covers beautiful trail walking routes with lovely scenic views. The group encourages fun, free and friendly atmosphere where new attendees who may seem nervous at first quickly settle in, and join in. Some comments from other group members:

‘Brilliant commitment, well organised and very knowledgeable.’

‘Run with Andy cater for all types of people, no matter what fitness level they are at.’

‘Andy has promoted walking as well as running, as a great stress reliever and as a means to combat issues surrounding mental health.’

‘His friendly approach and charm, as well as his passion has spread to many others who were previously low on confidence, with regards to learning how to run, but are now running 5k and 10k races thanks to his support and guidance.’

Run Together Leader

Andy Raju: Andy is a good person who does a lot for the community. His group have done really well in Alperton, Wembley and he deserves any accolade that comes his way as he has worked so hard for it. He and his group are very well liked and respected in the community as well as the running community. Word has spread about his group and we very much enjoy and love to attend both his walks as well as his runs. He is always promoting the value of fitness either in person, or on leaflets as well as social media, he is one of the most dedicated run leaders in London, and his group have been thriving in Brent.

Grassroots clubs/groups like his provide a great source of comfort for people who want to look somewhere to start training, or as a means to help in getting fit and staying active. His routes are scenic and fun, and the group is very welcoming. He is a very influential and regularly takes part in voluntary activities to do with either running for charity, as well as plogging events (picking up rubbish while jogging).

Services to Athletics or Running

Anne Roden: Anne has been part of SLH since the 1980s, first as an athlete, then as a Coach, Team Manager and Club President.

Not only is she a big part of our club, but she also helps out regularly at her local parkrun.

She team manages both the girls and boys track and field and cross country teams and officiates at young athlete league meetings, acts as a field judge in the county championships and organises home track competitions and club championships.

She played a huge role in setting up the primary schools cross country races, which has led to nearly all the primary schools in the local area participating in regular races over the winter, and encouraging many of these youngsters to join the club.

Anne also helped set up the South London Athletics Network, and she continues to organise the fixtures and communication between the participating clubs.

Anne encouraged me to coach (like many others), but she has been particularly supportive of me, a registered blind person, believing in me and encourage me to believe in myself.

Anne’s contributions to athletics has been far reaching. Our club, local communities and the region   she helps and supports wouldn’t have access to the track and field and cross country events as well as coaching sessions if it weren’t for her. Nor would we have the facility – Track Coulsdon, without her input in funding and developing the site.

She gives up so much of her time to organise, support, encourage, coach and officiate just for the love of athletics and desire to see people enjoy the sport as well as succeed. Anne is always smiling and encouraging young athletes and coaches. She even donated her Boston marathon winner’s cup so that we could have a young athlete of the year award!

Anne winning an award for her services would go some way towards us showing how much we appreciate her and can’t do without her.

Volunteer of the year

Clyde Gordon: A 13-year old Clyde arrived from Wembley with his mates wanting to do athletics and 38 years on he is still an active member of SBH. His enthusiasm and encouragement ensured that SBH became established as a major force in athletics nationally and drove colleagues to reach their own potential. Clyde is a consummate team player and leads by example.

Clyde is a qualified coach and looks after our young throws squad. He’s a qualified field official and timekeeper and has been working with our photo-finish team where his IT knowledge has been invaluable.

Clyde has team managed our very successful YAL boys’ team, then the NJAL team and latterly into YDL team, winning a number of regional and national titles over the years. He was also a key member of the management team which took the successful SBH men’s team into Europe at both Junior and Senior level. This year, he also volunteered to manage the club team in the UKWAL team.

For the last 30 years Clyde has been volunteering for SBH in many different roles. His impact as a coach has been outstanding and he carries out lots of important and valued jobs behind the scenes, as minibus driver and responsible for the production of the annual club accounts. He represents the club on the stadium management team in partnership with Saracens and Middlesex University, and he is a committed and valued SBH committee member.

Outside his club commitments, he also team manages the Middlesex young athletes track and field team and is currently the President of Middlesex County. He is a real advocate for grassroots athletics for all and can be seen volunteering 2 or 3 times a week, week in and out. Clyde would be a very worthwhile recipient of the London Region Volunteer of the Year award.

Young volunteer

Ismail Islam: He is a dynamic, motivated and multi-talented sportsman, and has played sports from a young age. He works well on his own and as part of a team, is passionate about athletics and this is a sport that he will excel at.

Ismail’s goals are to share his passion and love of sports with young people, to inspire, motivate and challenge them, providing coaching and support whilst developing their physical fitness. He aims to teach others valuable sporting skills and how to balance academics and sport. He has developed good mentoring and leadership skills whilst working with groups in school, after school, at clubs and at primary schools, whilst working on a voluntary basis. He has a strong work ethic and he is one hundred per cent committed to achieving whatever goals he sets himself. It is his intention using the skills that he has developed and continue to develop to inspire the youth of today to follow a path that will make them, fitter, healthier and well-balanced young people.

Chris Jones, England Athletics CEO, said:

“Our sport of athletics and running is built on the selfless and invaluable contribution that our amazing volunteers make. Through our Regional Volunteer Awards, we can put our volunteers in the spotlight, and celebrate the fantastic work that they do in their communities’, week in and out. We hope that the stories of our award winners and nominees can also inspire other people to get involved in our great sport.

“Congratulations and well done to all our award winners and finalists; and thank you to all volunteers across our sport. It can’t happen without you.”

Runners up

Congratulations also to the regions runners up:

Official: Rachel Kerr
Club: Havering AC
Inclusion: Andrea Lynch MBE
Services to Athletics and Running: Geoff Morphitis
Volunteer:
Alan James


More about our Volunteer Awards

Throughout September and early October, we’re hosting nine regional awards ceremonies across England. Every winner of a Regional Volunteer Award is then put forward to an external panel who will select the finalists for the prestigious National Volunteer Awards. Finalists are then invited to attend the England Athletics National Volunteer Awards & Hall of Fame Ceremony hosted on Saturday 12 October at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole. An event that honours volunteers from across England and inducts some of the stars of athletics and running into the England Athletics’ Hall of Fame. Since its launch in 2008, Hall of Fame inductees have included Sir Roger Bannister, Lord Sebastian Coe, Paula Radcliffe MBE and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Volunteering in our sport

Volunteering can be extremely rewarding, sharing your knowledge and passion with others to get more people into and enjoying our sport. There are lots of ways that you can get involved, head over to our website to find out more:

Volunteering in athletics and running