Our congratulations to our 2016 National Volunteer Award winners who were presented and recognised at Hall of Fame and Volunteer Awards evening. Seven awards were made to people, clubs and organisations who haven given so much time and energy to the sport. The categories were, Coach, Official, Club, Volunteer, Project, Run Group of the Year, plus Services to Athletics.
A little about each winner is detailed below, but you can find more information about this year's winners and those from previous years at www.englandathletics.org/volunteer-awards. The evening, sponsored by Track & Field Tours, Sweatshop and in partnership with the AAA, also saw a number of Athletics Greats inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame. Click here to read more.
The raffle, including a prize donated by Track & Field Tours for 25 people from an athletics club to go to the London 2017 World Championships with an overnight stay, raised over £1500 for the Ron Pickering Memorial Award. Three Performance Athlete of the Year awards were made by the RPMF; to U23 Dina Asher-Smith, U20 Callum WIlkinson and U18 George Mills. In addition, the Southern Women's Track & Field League - which has now closed - presented the Fund with a cheque for £4650. Click here if you'd like to Run For Ron at the London marathon.
Club of the Year: Bridgnorth Athletics Club
The first volunteer award to be announced was for Club of the Year and the Bridgnorth AC table erupted with shouts and cheers when they found they had won. Representatives Stuart Hamilton and Paul Boden collected the award. Stuart told us, “It’s a tremendous honour for a small family club like ours based in Shropshire. We’ve grown from strength to strength and this represents all the hard work from parents, club volunteers, coaches, officials and the athletes. We’re really thrilled.
Bridgnorth is a community and family orientated club which focusses on junior athletes; active membership of 9-18 year olds at the Club has increased by 20% to over 120 this year. This reflects strong and effective partnerships with local schools, both secondary and primary and the success of initiatives like using athlete role models at ‘This Girl Can’ events. For the first time ever the Club has swept the board in all the Shropshire junior team competitions by winning the XC league, the Sportshall competition and, against much larger clubs, the track & field league. The Club won a record 78 medals at the Shropshire County Championships in May and 3 athletes broke long-standing records at these championships. These and other talented athletes have been nurtured by the team of dedicated coaches.
Club representatives Stuart Hamilton and Paul Boden collected the award from England Athletics Board member Mike Harris.
Participation Project of the Year: Greater Peterborough Athletics Network
GPAN is a growing network made up of nine affiliated athletics and road running clubs, and is supported by two active partners; Advance Performance and Vivacity. GPAN proactively supports the growth of athletics in Greater Peterborough through the delivery of a wide range of participation projects, including Satellite Clubs, Try the Track (including with British Sign Language interpreter), Girls Running, and the Green Wheel Relay. GPAN works in partnership with a number of organisations to provide additional opportunities within the community.
Chairman Tim Cook told us, “Receiving the award was a complete and utter surprise. I thought it would just be nice to see our logo up there with all the other projects, but I wasn’t expecting a win!
GPAN proactively supports volunteers across all member clubs by providing coach development workshops, female coach development support, opportunities for young coaches and courses for officials.
Network Chairman Tim Cook collected the award from England Athletics Board member Mike Harris.
Coach of the Year: David Millett
David is Head Coach of Youth Development at Marshall Milton Keynes AC, delivering Athletics 365 to all junior athletes who come through the club, developing their overall athleticism to achieve in their event group that follows. He has become one of the best known deliverers of Athletics 365 in the country and has delivered an impressive number of workshops and flying coach visits across the country this year. Just recently he was asked to deliver an Athletics 365 and youth development workshop in Gibraltar.
David said, “It’s great that the signs of progress made in youth development is being recognised.” David is pictured with his wife Annabel and with Scott Grace who developed the Athletics 365 programme that David delivers.
His passion to share knowledge and facilitate the development of both coaches and athletes contributes significantly to developing athletes of the future. David has become a grassroots mentor at Stowe School and supports coaches working with athletes who are in the talent pathway. The effort and commitment of David to mentor athletics coaches in the last 12 months is having a huge impact on raising coaches standards locally.
David collected the award from Andrew Upton-Ford of sponsors Sweatshop.
Run England Group of the Year: Love Running Tuesday Nighters
Jo Randall and her husband Simon opened their IoW running shop - Love Running - in 2011. Realising that there was nothing available locally to encourage new runners take up the sport, they launched a small, free social running group on a Tuesday night. From 10 runners that first night, over 200 people are now registered.
She also now has a bunch of enthusiastic LiRF qualified Group Leaders and has worked closely alongside the Sports Development department at the IoW council. The Group has provided support for those recovering from cancer, encouraged ex-smokers get fit and active, helped people lose weight, and newcomers make friends. This embodies the whole ethos of what a Run England group is about.
In the absence of winner Jo Randall, Neil Deans collected the award from Andrew Upton-Ford of sponsors Sweatshop. Neil will present to Jo at the Hallowe'en Run.
Neil told us, "When I told Jo last night she was overjoyed. She spemt most of the time thanking England Athletics for their support while we were thanking her for hers. She said, "We don't meet anywhere posh, but everyone comes and runs."
Volunteer of the Year: Paul Pickard
Paul became involved with Stevenage AC as a parent, but soon got involved as an active volunteer. Paul has undertaken the roles of coach, official, team manager and valued committee member. Having got the ‘running bug’ with SNHAC Paul volunteered to train as a coach and now specialises in middle distance coaching, as well as being an an active level 2 Field Official, supporting and mentoring new officials.
Paul also team manages the EYAL Girls' team, Masters Mens’ team, Mid-Week League Road Running team, and is a valued member of the Club committee who additionally attends the various league committees. Without Paul, the teams would probably never have formed and without his constant encouragement would not have achieved the placings they have this year.
Paul Pickard commented, “I’m absolutely delighted. It’s only possible due to the hard work of many people, but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it."
Paul collected the award from David Barnett of sponsors Track & Field Tours.
Official of the Year: Alan Bell
Alan is nationally known as a starter for IAAF events worldwide. As a member of the Technical Advisory group he write teaching manuals for trainee starters and marksmen which are used throughout the UK.
However the North East sees him starting local events at all levels, from Northern Athletics Senior men and women's league, Youth development league, North East Youth development league, North East Grand Prix and even the minor athletes (ages 8-11) at Gateshead Stadium.
He gives talks to the North East Officials Group's AGM about his experiences overseas and plays a full and leading part in all North East athletics activities.
Alan said on the night, “I’m surprised and delighted – but there are many thousands of officials who work week in week out to make sure our sport is available to athletes around the country.”
Alan collected the award from Lee Munn of sponsors Track & Field Tours.
Services to Athletics: Mike Davies
Mike Davies' involvement in athletics goes back about 60 years. He was a very competent and versatile athlete competing for club and county to British League standard in throws, high jump and hurdles. His club career started with Eastbourne Rovers, then Liverpool Harriers, before moving to Coventry Godiva finally joining Blackheath Harriers in 1977. He started 'putting back' into the sport in 1959 when he got his coaching qualification. Not content with coaching, in the 1980s, he added field judging to his skills soon after. He has undertaken many administrative duties in the sport both at club and county level. He was Development Officer for Kent from 1996-2000, club officials secretary since 1985 and President of Blackheath and Bromley in 2000.
His professionalism, technical competence and knowledge are a credit to the sport. His enthusiasm and dedication remains along with a deep commitment to athletics which means he is still out and about over 200 days a year; whether it's coaching, officiating, organising match officials, liaising on league arrangements, ensuring we have team managers in place or keeping our local track manager in line. All this at an age when most are merely planning their next luncheon club visit.
Mike Davies told us, “I got the award because I’ve been around a long time – coaching for 60 years and a field judge for over 30 years. Athletics is my passion – it’s not a sacrifice at all. It’s what I like doing, it’s what I want to do, what I live for.” And among the laughter and chat of the current athletes also sat at his table, “it’s lovely being around the youngsters.”
Mike collected the award from President of UK Athletics Jason Gardener.
Dave Sunderland Memorial Bursary
The bursary set up in Dave Sunderland's memory was also presented - this aims to support development opportunities for coaches and the recipient this year is Andi Drake. Andi has an inclusive high performance training group and support team that includes school and student athletes training alongside elite U20 world 10k walk champion and Olympian Tom Bosworth. His legendary Track Tuesday nights, at Leeds Beckett University, are a great environment for endurance coaching. His friendship and professional coaching role with Dave Sunderland helped Andi to start realising his own personal coaching goals.
Andi told us, “It was a lovely surprise. It’s a bit clichéd but I should share this with a whole bunch of people I work with.” Two of his athletes were present at the event; Callum Wilkinson said, “He’s a great coach – very helpful. He’s really helped me with my move to Leeds recently.” Tom Bosworth added, “I’ve been coached by Andi for seven years. He’s always been most welcoming and supportive. He gets on your back if you slack on training but really he’s only looking out for you. I can’t thank him enough."
Photos from the night taken by Gary Mitchell (formal) and Nicola Evans (informal)