Winners and runners-up of the North West Regional Volunteer Awards

We’re down to the penultimate awards night in this year’s England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards – celebrating the outstanding work of Athletics and Running volunteers across the country and, for 2020, shining a light on their vital contribution in helping navigate our sport through the impacts of Covid-19.

The eighth of our regional awards nights saw us pay a virtual visit to the North West region. Broadcast live online, it was a fantastic chance to highlight the unbelievable commitment, passion and leadership shown by volunteers throughout the North West region who have made such a difference to Athletics and Running in what has been a unique and challenging year.

Our England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards winners and runners-up for the North West are…

Athletics & Running @Home Award – North West

Winner: Ossy Joggers

Community running club Ossy Joggers is the winner of the Athletics & Running @Home award for the North West. The club goes above and beyond to improve the community’s mental and physical health and has its own voluntary team of Mental Health Champions, who organise #RunAndTalk nights, which encourages people to open up about their mental. Their motto is “the hardest step is out the front door” and throughout lockdown the Run Leaders organised virtual runs and family orientated challenges to help others to get out of the house and complete some exercise. Throughout these challenging times, when many people are no longer in a routine, Ossy Joggers has provided stability. The Run Leaders have taken it in turns to live stream warm-ups on Facebook and also uploaded suggested routes to follow, which occasionally passed the homes of members who were self-isolating so that the runners could wave to them as they passed. The random acts of kindness undertaken by the Ossy Joggers have also provided support to others: packets of sunflower seeds, cakes, toilet rolls, flowers and socks are just some examples of items which were left on the doorsteps of other runners as a gift.

Runner-up: East Cheshire Harriers & Tameside AC
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Club of the Year – North West

Winner: West Cheshire AC

The North West Club of the Year award winner, West Cheshire AC, is renowned for the voluntary help and support it provides for the local community. The club caters for anyone aged eight and a half years old upwards who enjoy training sessions and competitions coordinated and supervised by 40 qualified coaches and 43 qualified officials as well as many volunteers throughout the year. West Cheshire AC teaches members who want to compete in track and field, cross country, road running, hill running, and indoor Sportshall athletics fixtures. The club prides itself on the friendly and accommodating atmosphere its volunteers create at training sessions and competitions, as well as the variety of events it offers to the local community throughout the year. West Cheshire AC also partners with local primary and secondary schools to help deliver training sessions as well as running hugely popular indoor and outdoor competitions throughout the year which play an active part in their lives – promoting our sport and providing an important link into club athletics. The club has also developed a strong link with the local college and university and offers students an opportunity to train, compete, and learn how to become a coach or club official.

Runner-up: Vale Royal AC
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Coach of the Year – North West

Winner: Harry Richardson (Crewe & Nantwich AC)

Harry Richardson of Crewe & Nantwich AC is the winner of the North West Coach of the Year award in the England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards 2020. As a sprint coach, Harry steadfastly gives lots of encouragement to his group and supports U15 and U17 girls, keeping them motivated and enthusiastic about sport at an age where many give up. He gives up a lot of his time to train and support his group. He is very fair and helps all of them achieve the best they can. Harry has travelled all over the North West supporting his group at various competitions – giving advice, calming them down and dealing with the highs and lows of competing. He supports each athlete to perform to the best of their ability and provides encouragement and sound advice when things haven’t quite gone as planned. He is known as a very friendly, fair coach who is extremely patient. Happy to chat to parents about progress of athletes too, Harry works well within the team of other coaches. He’s always there to help and advise and listens to others if they have ideas.

Runner-up: Andrew Fraser (Wirral AC)
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Run Leader of the Year – North West

Winner: Sarah Pickerill (Southport Strollers)

Less than two years ago, Sarah Pickerill of Southport Strollers spotted a gap locally for a social running club for all abilities, from complete beginners to established marathoners, and founded her own group. The winner of the Run Leader of the Year award for the North West, her bright personality, complete openness and approachability means that runners flock to join the weekly sessions with over 50 attendees some weeks. Sarah cultivates strong relationships with all members, getting to know them personally, understanding their goals and encouraging them to achieve them, sacrificing her runs and training to help them on theirs. She brings new members to the club and ensures they are the right fit for the group’s inclusive, supportive and friendly ethos. Sarah has been the driving force behind the club becoming England Athletics affiliated, formalising its place in the running community. Sarah is insistent that, regardless of pace or distance run, all runners warm up and cool down together, which creates a community of runners who chat together and get to know one another. She personally selected the first few Run Leaders from within the club, encouraging them to complete the LiRF course, making sure they understand their role.

Runner-up: Pete Williams (Oldham & Royton Harriers & AC)
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Official of the Year – North West

Winner: Arwel (Taff) Williams (Liverpool Harriers & AC)

Arwel (Taff) Williams of Liverpool Harriers & AC is the winner of the England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards Official of the Year for the North West. Taff is an outstanding role model official within Liverpool Harriers & AC and is viewed as a credit not only to his club but also to the wider sport. Since becoming part of the club, his enthusiasm, diligence, and sheer doggedness has taken him into a succession of roles including being a coach, running the club shop with his wife, team manager, club secretary and club official. If you go to any athletic meeting around the area, you are likely to see Taff officiating be it cross country, road relays, or a track and field meeting. His wealth of knowledge is outstanding and he is always there to advise and mentor those within the club or the community who are looking for insights into his wealth of officiating expertise. He fosters an environment with good practice and athletic behaviour which is aligned to England Athletics’ core values. Taff is a very experienced official and consistently supports at all levels from Sportshalls competitions through to more experienced athletes at club and regional levels and beyond.

Runner-up: Jan Lishman (Border Harriers)
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RunTogether Group of the Year – North West

Winner: Lions Running Community

The winner of the RunTogether Group of the Year award for the North West is the Lions Running Community. The group is supportive, accessible and diverse and sees itself as sitting at the heart of the community, providing the benefits of running and wider social inclusion. They support the ethos of removing barriers to access running and provide a variety of inclusive sessions, which enable people to train together. Members receive personal coaching plans enabling the leaders and coaches to support and monitor performance in order to tailor the support they provide. The friendly environment within the group shines through in its buddy system for new members, the caring support for members with their mental wellbeing and its social activities. As a group, they support children through funetics, who may struggle to access sport for a variety of reasons, giving them an opportunity to enjoy athletics and running in a safe environment. The club’s army of volunteers are trained as leaders, coaches, mental health champions, guide runners, fitness instructors and nutritional advisors allowing them to provide motivational sessions, guidance and encouragement for all members. The Lions also support a local children’s hospice and has raised funds for a community defibrillator.

Runner-up: Ossy Joggers
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Services to Athletics or Running – North West

Winner: Dennis Wall (West Cheshire AC)

Congratulations to Dennis Wall of West Cheshire AC who is the winner of the Services to Athletics award for the North West Regional Volunteer Awards. He has been the driving force behind grassroots athletics, developing West Cheshire AC from a little grass track club to a well-known prestigious club, with the facilities to match. His passion and enthusiasm of our amazing sport flows through the athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers who all love and respect him: their numbers have increased as a direct result of his passionate approach. He is a true ambassador for the sport of athletics with his selfless dedication and commitment over the past 35 years. A very enthusiastic athlete who could turn his hand to almost any event, he gained coaching and officiating qualifications and still coaches three sessions a week when possible. Dennis’s calm and considerate approach to any situation is backed up with his in-depth wisdom and his contacts throughout the athletic world: it is testament to his role within the local community that local schools, clubs and the local authority all contact him for help and advice. He also arranges coaching and officiating courses for local clubs, secondary schools, further education colleges and Chester University.

Runner-up: Margaret Milne (Wirral AC)
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Volunteer of the Year – North West

Winner: John Heap (Wirral AC)

John Heap is an integral part of Wirral AC and the winner of the Volunteer of the Year award for the North West Regional Volunteer Awards. As club chairman he has done a fantastic job of not only bringing the existing team of volunteers together, but also creating an environment where new people are happy to give their time and learn new skills. He believes that the club should feel like a community and that anyone willing to give their time to the club should be encouraged and nurtured. He always goes above and beyond what is required for the role of chairman and takes on many other club management roles, consistently going the extra mile for the club and its athletes. He is a highly principled, enthusiastic and approachable leader who wants what is best not only for Wirral AC but also for the sport of athletics as a whole. He leads by example, is visible at events and is also a dedicated team athlete, timekeeping official and assistant coach. He is the glue that holds this wonderful community club together. He has the right balance of having the club’s best interest at heart without compromising the needs of individual athletes.

Runner-up: Timothy Nuttall (Lions Running Community)
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Young Volunteer of the Year – North West

Winner: Thomas Lewis (Run Wild Manchester)

The Young Volunteer of the Year award for the North West is Thomas Lewis of Run Wild Manchester (based out of the University of Manchester). Over the past two years as president, Tom has volunteered hundreds of hours of his time for run leading. He organised every weekly session, which saw a regular attendance of 100+ runners, assigning Run Leaders to groups and planning routes for each group. In addition, he was a Run Leader at the Manchester International RunTogether meet up and responsible for the creation of the Manchester 24 Hour Run Against Homelessness. This saw multiple clubs in Manchester take part, with 314 runners running 5km laps raising money for charity. During lockdown Tom made sure the club continued to be active, hosting weekly pub quizzes, encouraging runners to write weekly run reports and filming/editing weekly virtual parkrun videos. Tom has been at the forefront of making the club more social, encouraging those who wouldn’t normally socialise, making everyone feel included and welcome – especially as loneliness can be a huge issue at university. He has been the driving force behind using Run Wild’s sessions to raise awareness and provide support around a number of issues, with events for #Runandtalk, LGBT awareness and #runequal.

Runner-up: Harry Richardson (Crewe & Nantwich AC)
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Click here to find out more about the 2020 England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards 2020.