North West volunteer awards presented

North West 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 West awards ceremony was held at the DW Stadium, Wigan on 25th September.

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 West Volunteer Award winners are:

  • Club of the Year: West Cheshire Athletic Club
  • Coach of the Year: Joe Frost
  • Official of the Year: Maryon O’Donnell
  • RunTogether Leader / Group of the Year: Louise Goddard / LegIt Lancaster
  • Volunteer of the Year: Nick Taylor
  • Young Volunteer (14-25) of the Year: Lucy Burch
  • Innovation Project of the Year: #MileShyClub
  • Services to Athletics: John Procter

Their award nominations are reproduced below.

Club of the Year: West Cheshire Athletic Club

The club has strengthened partnerships in the last 12 months within the Chester and Ellesmere Port area, with West Cheshire College, University of Chester, the Cheshire Oaks School Sports Partnership and Chester School Sports Association to help increase participation and support the development of the club.

They encourage parents to volunteer and attend regular training sessions - and support them to earn coaching qualifications to bolster an already enthusiastic and knowledgeable squad of helpers who contribute towards a friendly environment for everyone to develop.

The club's Lower and Upper Youth Development League teams retained their positions in their respective divisions and the club consolidated their place in the Division One of the North of England League.  Notable individual performances by club athletes this year have been Emma Howe’s call up to England’s Youth Commonwealth Games team and George Hyde’s victory for England in Dublin at the Schools' International.

The club supplies many officials and helpers at County events throughout the year, not least of whom is Alan Morris who is the Cheshire County Officials' Secretary.

Coach of the Year: Joe Frost

Joe works tirelessly to coach and support his athletes, offering flexible coaching sessions every day and attending every competition his athletes compete in regardless of numbers, weather or location.  He has coached athletes to podium medal wins at English Schools' and National Championships, the Northerns, England Nationals and England Combined Events Nationals.  While coaching elite athletes he also supports developing athletes and fosters a team spirit in the whole squad that has enabled them all to recently secure promotion in the YDL in the U13/U15 and U17 age groups.

Joe not only coaches athletes but provides support and literature on healthy eating, sleep, rest and a whole host of other areas relevant to athlete development as well as arranging trips to athletics events such as the recent Anniversary Games at London’s Olympic stadium.  The squad is also attending a warm weather training trip to Madeira in October 2017.

His commitment goes even further when you consider that he and his brother were instrumental in re-developing the club house and securing money to fund a brand new club house, showers, changing rooms, office and kitchen.

Official of the Year: Maryon O’Donnell

Maryon O’Donnell is a dedicated person qualified as a Level 4 Field and Endurance Official. She devotes a huge amount of time to officiate both disciplines throughout the year across a range of events and age groups, from YDL matches up to Schools’ Internationals and beyond.

To ensure young athletes are conversant with the rules and prepared for competition she also helps to coach and is keen to impart her knowledge to younger officials as well as lead by example. During her teaching career she has guided students at all levels to become involved in Athletics.

She officiates both at County level in Lancashire and is a member of the NW Regional Council where she helps provide input and vision from her experiences from grassroots to elite level.  She is also very keen to promote inclusive officiating and coaching, and volunteers her time to disability athletics. Maryon has been a member of the ESAA committee for over 20 years and presently holds the roles of both ESAA and SIAB chairwoman.

RunTogether Leader / Group of the Year: Louise Goddard / LegIt Lancaster

Her nominator writes, "I first met Louise in November 2016 when I saw a leaflet for a free run talk session in my local park supporting mental health issues. My training had faulted and I was struggling to motivate myself. I had never gone to a running club as I was put off by the elitism. From the first moment I met Louise I was impressed with her knowledge and how she motivates and trains."

Although Louise is predominantly self-employed she gives a lot of her time freely running several free classes a week encouraging women into running and exercise. She is a role model for school girls encouraging them to take part in sport.  She is an ambassador for mental health issues and a role model to women and deserves to be recognised for her outstanding work. Louise works with local schools and encourages children to have a healthier lifestyle.

Her nominator says, "I class Louise as a friend now and can never thank her enough for her encouragement and perseverance in helping me."

Volunteer of the Year: Nick Taylor

Nick Taylor is the co-founder of Didsbury Runners, a new club that has grown massively in the last year. The success of the group wasn’t just from the hours Nick put into planning routes, leading runs, organising events or even trimming back hedges on their routes; it was his passion for creating a friendly and supportive environment.

What makes Nick distinctive is that he is the reason others now volunteer too. He has set up local litter picks, arranged for club members to marshall at the Manchester half marathon and initiated a volunteer takeover by his club at the local parkrun - something other running groups now copy.

Nick has done all this despite ongoing physical and mental health problems. 2 ½ years ago Nick was rushed into surgery for a major internal operation. He has since been diagnosed with Crohn's disease.  Going from someone who ran all his life, including competitively, he now struggles to run or do any of the physical activities he enjoys, a situation which must be hard to put up with. Despite this, Nick is always there to support; he is always on the sidelines cheering club runners on at events he has co-ordinated. A positive example of how to cope.  These knocks are hard to adjust to and can make the simplest thing a mountain to battle, but Nick keeps going and giving, not just to Didsbury Runners but the running community as a whole.

Young Volunteer (14-25) of the Year: Lucy Burch

Over the last 12 months, Lucy has continued to pursue her officiating career and progression whilst juggling life and studies at University.  She was selected as a call room judge for the World Para Athletics Championships and IAAF World Championships in London; a real marker that the sport recognises her potential. Many officials have reported positively on her approach and manner with every level of athlete.

She has risen through the officiating levels smoothly and performed excellently, despite her relative inexperience, and is performing better than anyone could have expected so far.

Innovation Project of the Year: #MileShyClub

A club aimed at complete beginners, and operating as a not-for-profit, the MileShyClub established links with businesses in Sale, Greater Manchester, installed a defibrillator at the Waterside Plaza, became Mental Health Ambassadors, linked up with parkrun and Up and Running, rescued a raccoon-dog (!) and have helpers they plan to train as Leaders in Running Fitness.

They adapted the NHS Couch to 5k plan into coloured cone routes, added a qualified fitness instructor to share knowledge and provide more innovative group warm-up games. They currently have around 90 members and are growing … fast.

They set up their website ( and operate beginner runners facebook groups. They received funding from Trafford council for race bibs and have featured in newspapers and local magazines. They have lots of events coming up, self defence classes, #RunAndTalk events, as well as an online photo competitions and social with a raffle! They’re all-inclusive and even wore yellow this year after the Manchester attacks.

This award is made because of the impact they are having on those who wouldn’t even consider exercise and now feel confident enough to join like-minded people.

Services to Athletics: John Procter

John became a starter when he inherited his grandfather’s guns in 1967. That was the beginning and he has now been serving the athletics community as a starter and marksman locally, nationally and internationally for 50 years.

Always closely associated with the Mid Lancashire League, this year also marks 50 years' service to the league. He is currently and has been for many years the President of the League. He organises all the starters for track and field fixtures, working tirelessly to ensure the success of the league. He has done so for so many years that no-one remembers it any other way!

John is well respected by his peers and athletes alike for the manner in which he has contributed to the sport. His friendly, encouraging relationship with athletes is second to none, putting youngsters at ease and settling them before the race. Many young athletes have been pleased when moving up to northern or national championships to find John there; a friendly, familiar face.

John has always set a high standard in starting and this has earned him huge respect from other starters and other officials. Thanks to John, the Mid Lancs is widely recognised as a training ground for new starters under John’s mentoring and watchful eye. Many new starters in the North and even further afield have learned their trade from John and his team at Mid Lancs.

Athletics is richer for John’s lifetime commitment. Long may it continue.

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