North East volunteer awards presented

North East volunteer awards presented

The England Athletics regional volunteer awards evenings are held to recognise and celebrate the work of our volunteers, without whom the sport could not function.

The North East regional event was held at Lumley Castle, Chester-Le-Street on 27th September, and attended by special guest speaker, Paralympian Stephen Miller. 

Volunteers were nominated by their peers and the England Athletics regional councils then made the decisions of who would win. Winners are put forward to the National awards which are presented at our Hall of Fame gala evening on 14th October at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, where our national winners, other volunteers and stalwarts of the sport celebrate together with top athletes past and present - including those who will be inducted into the 2017 Hall of Fame and past inductees. 

Click here to find out more about our Hall of Fame.  Contact Alison Potts to buy tickets (£55 per ticket or £495 for a table of 10).

We are pleased to announce the North East Volunteer Award winners are:

  • Club of the Year: Newcastle Frontrunners
  • Coach of the Year: Martin Peevor
  • Official of the Year: Toby Jones
  • RunTogether Leader / Group of the Year: Christine Smith, Mind and Sole Alnwick
  • Volunteer of the Year: Richard Judd
  • Young Volunteer (14-25) of the Year: Dominic Ellis
  • Innovation Project of the Year: Pattinson Athletics Initiative
  • Services to Athletics: Kevin Carr

Their award nominations are reproduced below.  Photographs will be added to this report shortly!

Club of the Year: Newcastle Frontrunners

Newcastle FrontRunners is a charity whose aim is to reduce barriers to healthy activity for LGBT people. Studies have found that LGBT people exercise less than average. Reasons include lack of confidence, low income, fear of ridicule and stigma. The club fulfils its aims by making running accessible from a cost and an ability standpoint, and raising the profile of LGBT runners in the community.  The club has doubled in size in the past year to 130 members.

NFR take great care to praise all, have a Grand Prix series with points for participating not speed, don’t publish race results to avoid embarrassment, draw relay places at random, and organise Couch to 5k programmes to help non-runners. Often an NFR runner comes last in a race, but the whole team stays and cheers them in. A new project this year was a fortnightly Strength and Conditioning session. The club goes away one weekend per year to a place where multiple distance races are on offer, e.g. the Edinburgh Marathon festival with 5k, 10k, half-marathon and marathon.  They organise the popular LGBT5k run on Pride weekend, which sold out all 800 places in 5 days. It’s a serious race and fun run combined, with prizes for the fastest but also for best fancy dress. 

Coach of the Year: Martin Peevor

After being a double schools champion, coach Martin wanted to give something back to the sport, so took up middle distance coaching at Middlesbrough AC. Since 2009, he has given increasing time, to the point where there is rarely a day where he isn’t supporting his athletes / parents. He also spends hours creating bespoke training plans for individual athletes, which has culminated in medal success in local fun runs, cross country leagues, area and regional championships, English and British Championships and at the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Overall his dedicated and inspiring coaching has led to four athletes achieving international status, all of whom he has trained from scratch. However, he doesn’t only focus on athletes at high levels, his mixed ability / gender group, ranging from 11 to 23 benefit from his support and encouragement. He regularly travels locally, national and internationally to support his athletes.

When athletes are at their lowest, Martin’s true colours shine - he make time to support those who are struggling through injuries, illness and disappointments. Due to his athletes competing at the mini-marathon, in order to spend her 50th birthday with him, his wife decided to run the London marathon, with his support she succeeded!

Martin financially supports low income athletes, by dipping into his own pocket to buy essential kit needed to help them progress. The admiration his nominee (an athlete) has expressed for Martin represents the views of the squad and why he deserves to win this award.

Official of the Year: Toby Jones

Toby is the lead timekeeper in the south of the county, and is responsible for the significant numbers of trainee timekeepers in his region

He is now the fully qualified North East tutor for photo finish operators.  In order to improve his skills and learn more about how to operate and interpret photo finish result, Toby has attended several out-of-region meetings and worked with a variety of photo finish operators.  He has taken over the North East photo finish staffing requirements and has assembled a team of people including learners and the more experienced, and now organises the teams to operate the cameras at relevant meetings.  When the North East had raised sufficient funds to purchase an additional camera set up, Toby arranged to pick up the equipment, take it back to the North East, assemble and operate it.  In order to make sure the equipment is used at as many tracks as possible, Toby has visited numerous running tracks in the region, and has identified and installed additional fixings where required to allow for maximum use of the camera.

He is an inspirational leader under whose leadership more and more officials are being recruited for timekeeping and photo finish camera duties, he is well deserving to be North East Official of the Year.

RunTogether Leader / Group of the Year: Christine Smith, Mind and Sole Alnwick

Christine is a qualified LiRF and a Mental Health Ambassador. Christine wasted no time as a newly qualified LiRF and formed her group ‘Mind and Sole Alnwick’.  Even though she has not been coaching for long, she has made a real difference in Alnwick, particularly with people suffering from mild depression, anxiety or low self-esteem.  Her groups consists of larger ladies who have weight to lose and her classes are having a positive effect on their well being and new found confidence.  Christine has herself recovered from anxiety and low self esteem so fully understands how difficult it can be to break down the barriers that prevent some people lacking confidence from taking part in Sport.

Her nominator states, "She is such a friendly approachable bully personality and she has the ability to encourage folk to believe in themselves when they normally wouldn’t. She really deserves recognition because she is making such a difference to these women's lives."

Volunteer of the Year: Richard Judd

Richard's own story alone inspires folk to give running a try as if he can do it then so can we etc. but encouraging folk to try Couch to 5k courses are just one of the things he does. He also volunteers with walking group, with local community projects, litter picking, improving the area, and task force type groups. He is very keen on promoting his local village and that is despite being a relative newcomer to the area having emigrated from “the south” a few years back.

Richard has been seen taking part in running events only to hang back and stick with any slow runners encouraging them constantly as they go, and even pacing them right across the finish line. At one event he linked arms with a female runner to encourage her to get that final few steps. He is such a positive person it is easy to forget he has lots of stuff going on in his home life with a disabled daughter that he and his wife care for themselves and he has a full time job. Despite all of this he still does so much to help others.

His nominator says, "I now manage to run, walk and cycle every week and this is all down to Richard's influence. We need more Richards."

Young Volunteer (14-25) of the Year: Dominic Ellis

Dominic is one of the very few young officials in our area, a role which he undertakes with great pride and efficiency. Dominic can be found at all level of events and beyond this gets involved in all aspects of the sport and is a great example to others. He also writes a regular blog for the North East Counties website which is always great to read.

Innovation Project of the Year: Pattinson Athletics Initiative

Opposite Gateshead International Stadium ‘home of Gateshead Harriers’ are Old Ford and Nest Estates, among the UK’s poorest areas and subject of official concern about very high childhood obesity.

When Edberts House, a local community development charity, started on the estate in 2015, young people wanted to try sport, particularly running, such as impromptu races outside the Pattinson House community hub, times taken on a youth worker's iPhone!  None had used the stadium, although some lived 50m away. Residents thought they were not allowed to enter, couldn’t afford it, or it wasn’t for ‘people like them’.

Meanwhile, Gateshead Harriers were concerned at low participation of local children in their activities.  Through an innovative partnership, in line with Sport England guidance, local young people are training with an existing harriers group involving running, strength and conditioning, and mobility. 3 participants have completed a local ParkRun, and the Edberts Youth worker is gaining coaching skills.

The project dismantles cultural and racial barriers, challenging generational perceptions about athletics and the stadium. It enables all to learn from each other so that running and athletics benefit the local community.

Services to Athletics: Kevin Carr

Kevin Carr has been a Sunderland Harriers committee member since 1961 (age 16). He has held every club position bar treasurer and has been race secretary since 1970. He continues as press officer and was author of the club's centenary history in 2005. He is a Club coach with 4 internationals to his name. He has been innovator and race promoter (including securing sponsorship) for all Sunderland events, including hosting Northern and National Championships, and successfully campaigned for the Silksworth synthetic track back in 1981.

As a Level 4 Endurance Official, Kevin will be recognised weekly by thousands of North East runners. As a respected race official, he is race referee at the majority of North East road races. His expertise, knowledge and experience led to National and Northern road and cross country referee appointments not long after his serious competition days were over.  Kevin has an in-depth knowledge of UKA Endurance rules; in 2012, he was appointed as a UKA Technical Official for the London Olympics Marathon, and this year has a similar role for the IAAF World Championships in London. He is still regularly appointed to managerial positions at Northern and National Events.

Runners Up

Innovation Project runner up: Redcar Walking Club

Official of the Year runner up: Joan Smith

RunTogether Group runner up: Weardale Flyers

Coach runner up: Richard Kaufman


Chair's Awards

Tommy Brannon and Chris Mole


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