Volunteers from across the country were rewarded for their outstanding contribution to athletics and running at the England Athletics Hall of Fame evening.
Winners and runners-up across nine awards categories were announced in an online broadcast in January and attended this year's 2021 Hall of Fame to receive their awards.
Athletics & Running @home: Ossy Joggers (North West region)
Recognising the contribution made during the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout lockdown the Community running club Ossy Joggers organised virtual runs and family orientated challenges to help others to get out of the house and complete some exercise. The random acts of kindness have also provided support to others: packets of sunflower seeds, cakes, toilet rolls, flowers and socks are some examples of items left on the doorsteps of other runners as a gift.
Sally Woods received the award on behalf of the Ossy Joggers. She told us: "The hardest step is out the front door – and if you can do that you can do anything."
Club of the Year Award: Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC (London region)
150 years young, Blackheath and Bromley Harriers AC has incorporated, become a charity and modernised its constitution and policies. Communication with members is a priority through an expansion of its website and social media platforms. The club also provides seminars on topics such as nutrition and mental health. The club hosts annual development days for aspiring athletes of all abilities, and its coaches offer training for a full range of disciplines and ability levels, allowing newcomers to decide where they feel most comfortable.
Club Committee member Tim Soutar represented the club. He commented: "I’m proud for my club to be recognised, given the extent of the work done in clubs around the country taking the sport forward."
Coach of the Year Award: Mike Utting – City of Norwich AC (East region)
Described as an incredible, kind-hearted person, Sprints coach Mike Utting lives and breathes athletics and makes it fun and engaging. Mike is encouraging, extremely patient and goes the extra mile to help his athletes. He is heavily invested in para-athletes as well. He gives his time freely to athletes, other coaches, parents and anyone who needs his help and support, including driving athletes to events when necessary and running one-to-one sessions if an athlete needs special attention.
Mike told us about the three Cs he has used over a coaching career spanning over 30 years. The first two are Commitment and Communications. And Athletes aren’t interested in your knowledge – they also want to know you Care."
Run Leader of the Year Award: Julie Smith - Quarrington Hill Runners (North East region)
Since starting her RunTogether group in January 2019, Julie Smith has gone on to build a team of Run Leaders who share her passion for running and ethos of making the group a safe place for people to get some time for themselves, make new friends and get fitter at the same time. The close-knit group support one another to achieve their individual running goals. Julie has provided a much-needed community activity for people living in remote and isolated parts of County Durham.
She told us: "I was very humbled to receive the award and amazed to see what a difference our club has made to its members. Thank you for inviting me to the evening - I’m having an amazing time."
Official of the Year Award: Mary Hodges - Leamington C&AC (West Midlands region)
Mary Hodges is an extremely experienced official and is highly respected among UK officials for her knowledge, attention to detail and approachability. Her real skill is working with new officials - being a mentor and a fantastic motivator. At club level, Mary has been incredibly supportive especially towards the team of officials she has developed and nurtured: she has doubled the number of officials from 15 to 30 covering track and field and endurance.
Mary said: "I’m accepting the award on behalf of Leamington C and AC, and all my fellow officials in the Midlands that have supported me and to all the officials I mentor."
RunTogether Group of the Year Award: Team Caterpillar (Yorkshire & Humberside region)
Team Caterpillar is a true RunTogether group because equal emphasis is placed on being together and on the running. The group fosters a supportive atmosphere that transcends running and spills over into the everyday lives of its members. At Team Caterpillar there is always someone there to listen, advise, console or celebrate, which gives its members the confidence to chase running goals they may otherwise never have dreamed possible.
Dionne Torkington is the director of Team Caterpillar, "I’m so proud to be the 2020 winner. I’d like to thank England Athletics for the support and opportunities. Oh and I love the Run Leader App; it makes my life so easy."
Services to Athletics or Running Award: Paul Sanderson - Telford AC (West Midlands region)
A founder of Telford AC, Paul Sanderson has been the club secretary since the club started in 1976 and he has been key in securing improvements to the track. Paul has been a driving force locally in promoting the sport and bringing people who share his passion for athletics to the club. As a product of his dedication to his work, athletes and volunteers have had the opportunity to get involved, make friends, try new things, compete, with some even making it to the national team and becoming Olympians.
Volunteer of the Year Award: Tracey Jones – Southampton AC (South East region)
Tracey Jones got involved with athletics through her son and is now an official, jumps coach, officials' secretary and the main organiser of the SAC open competitions. Recently she took over the role of club chair. She is friendly, enthusiastic and approachable: she can be found scoring, serving tea and coffee, on field, helping everywhere. Described as the heart and soul of the club, Tracey actively encourages parents and people from the local community to get involved with the club.
Tracey said: "Thank you to everyone at the club who has helped me along the way, and especially my husband who cooks and drives for me when I am at the club three evenings a week!"
Young Volunteer of the Year Award: Thomas Lewis - Run Wild Manchester (North West region)
Thomas Lewis has volunteered hundreds of hours of his time run leading for Run Wild Manchester (based out of the University of Manchester). He organised every weekly session which saw a regular attendance of 100+. During lockdown Tom made sure the club continued to be active, hosting quizzes, encouraging runners to write run reports and filming/editing virtual parkrun videos. Tom has been at the forefront of making the club more social, especially as loneliness can be a huge issue at university.
Thomas told us: "I’m very grateful to be invited here and to receive the award. I couldn’t have done it without my group Run Wild Manchester and my amazing Run Leaders."
Photo by Mark Shearman