Celebrating our volunteers in the West Midlands

Wednesday 15th November saw a celebration evening in honour of Charlie Kelly winning the Award for Services to Athletics for the West Midlands Region.

Charlie Kelly has influenced a number of athletes, coaches and parents, in his decades of service in our sport. So, what better way to celebrate than invite as many of his athletes, past and present, over the years as possible! This is wonderfully demonstrated in the picture below, which shows a number of generations of Charlie’s athletes, including some of his Charlie’s Angels. At 93, Charlie Kelly is a true stalwart of athletics and is the beating heart behind the hurdling successes at Godiva Harriers, even to this day.

Chris Jones, CEO of England Athletics remarked, "I was honoured to be asked to read out the citation in Charlie's honour at the recent Midlands Awards celebrations. I am always humbled by the achievements, and contributions, of the hard working volunteers who make our sport the success that it is through their selfless efforts week in week out, month in month out, and year after year. Charlie's contribution to the sport is quite staggering and he serves as a timely reminder that countless hundreds, and thousands, of working hours are invested across the country by people just like Charlie, who give for others so that the sport may be enjoyed by many, and for years to come."

His influences have shaped some of his athletes into Olympians, GB Triathlon vests, and even GB Masters medallists…more into coaches, and even some others into becoming NGB Athletics staff. Further, we received messages of congratulations from all around the UK and even from the other side of the globe! Sharing their gratitude towards Charlie.

Here are a few of the statements from his legacy:

  • Esther Saraste (formerly Merchant), sent her best wishes to Charlie…all the way from Finland.
  • Nikita Matu (athletics coach), told us that Charlie is “a truly inspirational coach” and that “it was a pleasure and honour getting to coach sprinting alongside him”. She wishes Charlie all the very best and to keep on smiling and doing what he loves. He is “a real hero.”
  • Phil Fleetwood, coach education tutor for England Athletics says, “Charlie was one of my first coaches, he inspired me to become a coach, a role I have now been developing for over 45 years! I hope that I have been equally inspiring!".

Who will receive the award for Services to Athletics next year? That’s down to you, to nominate! (when they become open which is typically over the summer months). So, to avoid disappointment, make sure you take the time to recognise and reward someone in your club or area for all the volunteering they do …as without them, we wouldn’t be here.

Click here to read more about our Volunteer Awards