It was a star-studded celebration in Birmingham tonight at the 2019 Hall of Fame and National Volunteer Awards, sponsored by Track & Field Tours. Now in its 12th year, our prestigious annual awards evening incorporates the Hall of Fame, honouring the stars who have made outstanding contributions to athletics and running, alongside the National Volunteer Awards, celebrating the invaluable role of our sport’s volunteers from across the country.
The night brought together late and great names, with those who work tirelessly behind the scenes at the very core of our sport, to celebrate success, inspiration and dedication in athletics and running.
Since its inception in 2008, our awards evening has seen many legends of our sport inducted in honour and recognition of their outstanding contributions and accomplishments. The likes of Dame Kelly Holmes, Sir Roger Bannister, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Daley Thompson to name a few.
This year, the England Athletics Hall of Fame inductee line-up included eight greats who have rightly claimed their place amongst the legends of athletics and running:
Christine Ohuruogu: The first British woman to win a global 400m title. Her array of medals and achievements include becoming a double World 400m champion, Olympic and Commonwealth 400m gold medallist as well as World Indoor and European Indoor 4x400m champion.
Commenting on her Hall of Fame induction, Christine said: ‘It’s been such a long career, there is no one particular highlight, there have been so many. The relays were always a lot of fun - it was nice to have people around you and to get to the podium and celebrate with other people. I retired last year and prior to retiring I'd been doing a degree, and I just graduated this summer. I've still been following athletics, and watching athletes, and staying in touch with athletes and I'll try and help wherever I can.’
Phillips Idowu: One of the greatest British triple jumpers of all-time who was crowned World, World Indoor, European Indoor and Commonwealth champion as well as breaking Jonathan Edwards’ UK indoor record with a jump of 17.75.
Kelly Sotherton: Multi-event specialist who achieved a Commonwealth Games heptathlon gold medal as well as silver medal success in World Indoor and European Indoor pentathlon and three Olympic bronze medals across heptathlon and 4x400m.
Commenting on her Hall of Fame induction, Kelly said: ‘You never really remember the podium, you remember all the hard work and training, but it's great to look back at the photos and think "Oh, I really did that!". I loved all seven of my events. I absolutely loved doing the heptathlon but then really enjoyed the relay as it was my chance to be part of a team.’
Paul Dickenson: Athlete turned much-loved BBC commentator who competed in the hammer throw at two Olympic Games, was a UK record holder, and has since coached a number of talented young hammer throwers including Jake Norris, Taylor Campbell and Bayley Campbell.
Commenting on his Hall of Fame induction, Paul said: ‘It’s absolutely wonderful. When I first started, all these athletes who have previously been the recipients of the Hall of Fame were my heroes, legends as far as I'm concerned, and to be among their names is fantastic.’
Jenny Archer: Best known as the coach of Paralympian David Weir, and founder of the Weir Archer Academy, whose successes as a coach include a multitude of London Marathon victories and Paralympic, IPC European Championship, IPC World Championship and Commonwealth medals.
Commenting on her Hall of Fame induction, Jenny said: ‘It is an incredible honour to be not only the first female coach inducted into the Hall of Fame but also to be held in such high esteem by those who are to be inducted with me and those who have already been.’
Robbie Brightwell: A former British 400m record holder who achieved a 1962 European 400m gold medal added to Olympic and European silver in the 4x400m and Commonwealth silver in the 440y and 4x400y relay. Remembered for his heroic anchor leg to claim the 1964 Olympic 4x400m silver medal.
Commenting on his Hall of Fame induction, Robbie said: ‘The Hall of Fame represents a list of individuals chosen to mark their outstanding contribution to their sport. I am honoured to have been elevated to this level and humbled to join such distinguished names as Roger Bannister, Seb Coe, Steve Cram, Brendon Foster, David Hemery, Ann Packer, and Jessica Ennis-Hill.’
Mark Rowland: Britain’s only Olympic medal-winning steeplechaser in more recent history, winning bronze at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games in a remarkable 8:07.96. More than 30 years later, only five Europeans have bettered that 3000m steeplechase time and so far in the 21st Century no Briton has run inside 8:20.
Commenting on his Hall of Fame induction, Mark said: ‘I'm very disappointed not to be there but it's a long year and, with the forthcoming Olympics, I can't afford to be away from my base [Oregon, USA]. I was shocked and humbled to receive the phone call from England Athletics and am truly honoured to be inducted alongside heroes, friends and role models. Thank you.’
The late Willie Applegarth: Nicknamed ‘The Guisborough Flyer’, a sprint legend of the early 1900s who won 1912 Olympic gold in the 4x100m and bronze in the 200m, and who achieved numerous World and British records. Willie passed away in December 1958.
Willie Applegarth’s great nephew, Mike Applegarth, said: ‘Few people have heard of Willie Applegarth, mostly because the Great War intervened when he was at his peak and his achievements were overshadowed. Willie’s gold medal came at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912 and this was commemorated 100 years later when Prior Pursglove College, in his hometown of Guisborough, named a new building in his memory.
‘Inducting Willie into England Athletics’ Hall of Fame is a wonderful way we can share our pride of him with a wider audience – thank you so much for honouring him this way.’
The National Volunteer Awards also formed an extremely important part of our annual awards night as we shone a spotlight on the inspirational work, passion and commitment that volunteers bring to our sport:
Coach of the Year
Liz Sissons (South East – Epsom & Ewell Harriers): Liz began coaching in 1984 and is now a Level 3 performance coach in shot, discus, strength & conditioning. Coaching athletes aged 13 to 85+, she’s coached individuals to achieve GB International honours, gain record titles for age groups, coached military personal supporting with rehabilitation, alongside competing herself, and remains unbeaten in the UK for over 25 years in the shot and javelin Masters category.
Commenting on her national title, Liz said: ‘It’s very rewarding seeing improvement no matter how little. I don’t mind what standard of athlete I coach; I just want them to enjoy the sport we all love. I am honoured to receive the award for doing something I enjoy.’
Official of the Year
Kevin Diedrick (London – Woodford Green AC with Essex Ladies): Kevin Diedrick is a Field Judge who started officiating in 1999 and has since progressed to National Level 4 and undertaken his CMA. He’s now often utilised by UKA / EA / SEAA as Referee, NTD, and Technical Manager. Very active in training officials and mentoring newly qualified officials, Kevin officiates at some 6—70 meetings per year from local leagues through to Regional, National and International events.
Commenting on his national title, Kevin said: ‘I love being part of a large family (officials) who meet up on a regular basis. To have fun and ensure the athletes have a good competition.’
Club of the Year
Doncaster Athletic Club (Yorkshire & Humberside): Doncaster Athletic Club is 11 years old. It’s a club that has built a reputation of being a family friendly club with a vibrant junior membership through to veteran level, with categories in road running, track and field, ultra-running, cross country and a fully inclusive disability section. Their club is unique to the world of athletics as, at a time when most clubs rent sites from Local Authorities, Doncaster AC has risen to the challenge of asset transfer and sound facility management.
Commenting on their national title, Kevin Lincoln said: ‘I am proud to be here to represent Doncaster AC. It’s an amazing club with lots of amazing people doing wonderful things and our future is looking good.’
Judy Cuckston (South West – Tavistock AC): Judy has broken down barriers to fitness so that adults who can’t manage mainstream beginner groups now have a place to run. Participants range from 16 to 85 with a range of disabilities including loss of hearing, autism, movement disorders, physical and mental health issues and weight-related barriers. Using a track, she creates a safe, secure and welcoming environment that encourages everyone and anyone with vulnerabilities to get involved.
Commenting on her national title, Judy said: ‘It’s so satisfying to watch people succeed and achieve their goals; breaking down barriers to fitness.’
RunTogether Group of the Year
So Let’s Go Running (South East): So Let’s Go Running are based in North West Kent. The majority of their run leaders are from under-represented groups and are primarily female, to support predominantly female group members. They have various groups/runs to cater for all abilities, all implemented with their ‘running without barriers’ ethos; to promote friendly, inclusive and supportive sessions and making runners of all abilities feel welcome.
Commenting on their national title, Brian Page said: ‘It is rewarding to run a project that breaks barriers; our ethos is ‘running without barriers’. I am so proud of our games changers project that got us here today. We welcome all ages and experience levels.’
RunTogether Leader of the Year
Shelby Williams (North West – Lions Running Community): Shelby is a truly inspirational woman who funded her own qualifications to provide a great coaching experience. She then went on to develop her skills and knowledge further by undertaking qualifications in biomechanics, fitness instructing, Mind Get Set to Go and Time to Change Mental Health Champion training, so that she could provide a more inclusive and holistic approach. Shelby has a truly person-centred approach to coaching; she understands individuals’ goals and people have the upmost trust in her and thrive because of it.
Commenting on her national title, Shelby said: ‘It’s rewarding to help others achieve their goals and dreams, what they want from their running.’
Services to Athletics
Peter Warden (North West – Preston Harriers): Peter started athletics at the age of 7. As an athlete he won countless County Championships, Northern titles and National medals, represented Great Britain at the 1964 Olympics and won two bronze medals at the 1966 Commonwealth Games. Peter started coaching in 1968, and in his 60 years of coaching he’s coached hundreds of athletes; over 20 international athletes and hundreds of club athletes. At the age of 77, he is still involved in athletics and coaching athletes at Preston Harriers; a truly talented and inspirational man who shows no sign of stopping.
Commenting on his national title, Peter said: ‘Coaching is what I do. Most satisfying for me is seeing young (and old!) athletes enjoy what they are doing and reaching their potential; a coach’s role is to help them achieve their potential, whatever that might be.’
Volunteer of the Year
Louise Goddard (North West – Mental Health Mile/ Legit Lancaster): Louise is a fantastic asset to the local community, she works tirelessly to promote mental health and well-being, and running as a vehicle to help with social cohesion and improvement of the lives of others in the North of Lancashire. She’s always keen to volunteer time to the local running community and is incredibly active in seeking out new and interesting volunteering opportunities for others.
Commenting on her national title, Louise said: ‘It’s so satisfying seeing people take part who thought they could never do a sporting event and get a medal for it.’
Young Volunteer of the Year
Abigail Pickard (East – Stevenage & North Herts AC): Abbie is a credit and highly valued volunteer at Stevenage & North Herts AC. At just 18 years old she has been a committed club member for 9 years, taking on many roles; as an athlete, a coach, team manager, committee member, a field and photo-finish official. Multi-tasking at competitions, Abbie is found team managing, competing, officiating and sharing her photo-finish knowledge; where she has become something of an expert with expertise way beyond her years!
Commenting on her national title, Abigail said: ‘To anyone thinking of volunteering I would say literally get out there and do whatever you can do, whatever you enjoy. All the small pieces of the wheel contribute to the whole picture.’
During a truly inspirational night of talent and volunteer recognition, recipients of other awards given out on the night included:
England Athletics - Dave Sunderland Coaching Bursary
Awarded to Andy Henderson (Leeds Beckett University)
Ron Pickering Memorial Fund present;
The RPMF Jean Pickering Young Athlete of the Year, 2019
(awarded to athletes from across the UK)
U23: Jemma Reekie (Club: Kilbarchan AAC, Coach: Andy Young)
U20: Josh Zeller (Club: Michigan Uni / Bracknell AC, Coach: James Henry / Adrian Brown)
U18: Amy Hunt (Club: Charnwood AC, Coach: Joe McDonnell)
AAA Athletics for the Young Charity – Dave Cropper Award for the most promising 800m runner:
Isabelle Boffey (Club: Enfield & Haringey/Birmingham University, Coach: Luke Gunn)
Max Burgin (Club: Halifax Harriers, Coach: Brian Burgin)
Photo by Mark Shearman
Volunteering in our sport
Volunteering can be extremely rewarding - sharing your knowledge and passion with others to get more people into and enjoying our sport. Volunteers are inspirational and invaluable; they are the core and foundations of our sport. If you’ve been inspired by the stories above then there are lots of ways that you can get involved - click here to find out more about volunteering in athletics and running.