East Region volunteer award winners recognised 2015

Last Sunday not only saw the second day of competition of the England Athletics U17 and U15 championships; but also celebrated the winners of the 2015 EA Volunteer Awards awarded by the East Regional Council. The winners received their trophies and certificates from regional councillors Sonia Edwards, Phil Sergeant, Anthony Church and Regional Chair Mick Shortland in front of the spectators, coaches, athletes and officials present at the Bedford International Stadium.

The awards and their winners are as follows:

  • Club of the Year – Chelmsford Athletics Club
  • Coach of the Year – Steve Mitchell (Chelmsford AC)
  • Volunteer of the Year – Richard Park (Cambridge & Coleridge AC)
  • Participation Project of the Year – Watford Harriers AC
  • Run England Group / Leader of the Year – Fen Edge Runners / Tom Johnston and Luke Renouf
  • Official of the Year – Steve Feely (SNHAC)
  • Services to Athletics – John Weir (Chelmsford AC)

Club of the Year – Chelmsford Athletics Club

Chelmsford Athletics Club is an excellent ambassador for England Athletics, working hard to develop young people both as individuals and athletes. The club provides outreach coaching to 15 senior schools in the Chelmsford area via free Masterclasses for schoolchildren and teachers, attracting new members due to its reputation for high quality of coaching in many disciplines.

The club has 5 coaches on the National Coach Development Programme, an area Hurdles Mentor, and three qualified disability coaches The club academy attracts young athletes from the more disadvantaged areas in the locality. The club provides Flying Coach visits to other clubs within the Essex Athletics Network & operates three Satellite Clubs. The club actively encourages coach and volunteer education by fully subsidising course attendance for their volunteers.

The club has an inclusive, family atmosphere which, when combined with the quality of coaching, has developed a number of international athletes including Jessica Judd, Hayley Mclean, Jess Tappin and Joshua Bain.

East Region Councillor Phil Sergeant presented Chelmsford with the Club of the Year award

Coach of the Year – Steve Mitchell (Chelmsford AC)

Steve Mitchell is a level 3 Sprints, jumps, Combined Event and Strength Conditioning Coach at Chelmsford AC. He is the EA area Coach Mentor for hurdles in the South and East. Over the last few years he was responsible for Hayley MacLean's transformation from County Champion, to English Schools' Champion, and onto European U20 gold, and Commonwealth Games selection.

Previous developing athletes include Lauren Bouchard, who reached the final of the European Juniors for 400H, and Georgia Atkins the final of the100mH and long jump at the U18 youth Olympics. Steve now also coaches Mathew Hamilton who recently went to the World IWAS Games in Holland. He also has a number of athletes who competed at the 2015 English Schools' championships.

He coaches a number of young talented developing club athletes, many who are ranked nationally, as well as older club athletes. He has a strong relationship with his athletes, and has adapted his group to handle a variety of ages. Steve works with coaches from the club who are then able to oversee the coaching programme he has devised. Steve conducts Flying Coach visits to other clubs, and along with England Athletics and the Essex Athletics Network he runs hurdles development coaching clinics.

Sonia Edwards presented Steve Mitchell with the Coach of the Year award.

Participation Project of the Year – Watford Harriers AC

The Watford Open Graded Meetings have been run fortnightly over the past twenty five summers organised by Watford Harriers AC and supported by Sport and Leisure Management, Watford Borough Council and the wider athletics community. 2015 has seen record numbers of athletes with over 500 athletes attending their ninth meeting in July. With athletes from throughout the country, the meetings continue to host the nationally acclaimed BMC meetings, as well as providing competition for national and internationally recognised athletes.

Run by a huge team of volunteers the Watford Open Graded Meetings are a credit to the wider athletics community. They draw on the expertise, support and time of officials, coaches and volunteers from both the club, as well across Hertfordshire and beyond. This award is for everyone involved.

Regional Council member and Youth Advisory Group Secretary Anthony Church presented the Participation awards.

Run England Group / Leader of the Year – Fen Edge Runners / Tom Johnston and Luke Renouf

Tom and Luke deliver local 'pop up' beginners' running groups in a number of different villages in Cambridgeshire. These are community-based, progressive programmes that feed into the main Fen Edge Runners club sessions. The sessions are all provided by Tom and Luke on a voluntary basis, and are aimed at local villages that have limited provision for sport and exercise.

They were also instrumental in the development of sessions aligned with local schools (Swavesey Village College and Cottenham Academy in particular) and workplace groups also. These are delivered as inclusive, no-pressure groups aimed at getting new people trying athletics.

Over 300 individuals attended the groups last year, the majority of whom are still running. Tom and Luke promote local parkruns and races as a goal for people completing the group sessions, in addition to local clubs. Tom and Luke are great role models and inspirational leaders, and deserve wider recognition.

Regional Council member and Youth Advisory Group Secretary Anthony Church presented the Run England Awards.

Services to Athletics – John Weir (Chelmsford AC)

Having joined Chelmsford AC in the early 1980s, John quickly became involved by assisting as an official which led him into becoming qualified in Track and Field disciplines and has since officiated on a regular basis both at club and county meetings. He has been Assistant Chair and later as Chair for a period of 35 years. John has held the position of treasurer and also that of men’s team manager whilst he continues as Chair.

He helps run the Masterclasses which provide coaching for all of the senior schools in the Chelmsford area. He has been active in encouraging disabled athletes into the club which now boasts two international Disability athletes and 3 disability coaches. At Essex County level, John held the position of treasurer and now sits on the executive committee. John is actively involved in the Essex Athletics Network, and has seen the club move upwards into YDL for both age groups and National League for the seniors. John is a modest person who loves the sport and acts as first point of contact on the desk for new athletes joining the club.

East Region Councillor Phil Sergeant presented John with his award.

Ric Park and Steve Feely will receive their awards at events in the near future as they were unable to attend at Bedford. Click here to read about Steve's presentation.

Congratulations to the East Region Volunteer Award winners for 2015 for all their efforts in helping deliver and drive forward our sport. The winners of the East region will join the winners from the other eight regional councils for consideration for the national volunteer awards which once again will take place in conjunction with the England Athletics Hall of Fame event in October. Tickets for the night will be available through our website soon. If you know of a worthy winner of the 2016 awards, then make sure you nominate them when the 2016 nomination period opens next spring.