North East region volunteer awards announced

Our final volunteer Awards celebration evening was for those in the North East region, and took place at St James' Park - home of Premier League club Newcastle United FC.

Presenting the Awards were members of the North East Regional Council including Chair Janice Kaufman, Harry Matthews, Russell Dickinson-Deane and Kevin Johnson. England Athletics Head of Clubs and Participation, Emma Davenport was also present and said in her closing address:

Volunteers are the heart of athletics and running. They truly are what makes our sport so great and their work across England is so important and appreciated. Thank you to each and everyone one of you for all that you do.

Club of the year - winner: Darlington Harriers & AC

Darlington Harriers & AC’s website, join experience and sessions booking portal are all easy to use and ensure safeguarding and coach-athlete ratios are maintained. The club have an open-door policy to club members who may have suggestions of how to make improvements, plus a weekly communication to members. The club has put a number of members through Leader and Coach training this and are currently looking to implement a 'volunteering' championship where points are awarded for support given at events. The club’s free Couch 2 5k has seen more people join the group and receive weekly coaching sessions and support at events. In addition the club have repaired their damaged throws cage.

Darlington Harriers & AC supported the local food bank and children’s hospital at Christmas They've also raised awareness and money (through events) for a number of charities.

Paul Moseley presented the award at a local event.

Club of the year - runner up: Low Fell Running Club

Low Fell Running Club cater for different speeds and ability and vary routes accordingly, with group run backs. People are encouraged to talk to each other during the run, which makes running more enjoyable and creates new friendships. The Monday night ladies’ group is popular and more members are running on additional nights and entering races, including a local annual female only run with a meal afterwards and an annual meal and celebration after the Great North Run.

The club committee empowers each Run Leader to come up with ideas and gives them the autonomy to try things. Recently club members were given free places at the local Angel run - this encouraged lots of club members to run and created a great buzz on the training nights leading up to the race. The club also encouraged members family and friends to marshall on the course which helped to create a great atmosphere on the night.

Coach of the year - winner: David Moir

Dave Moir established Tyne Bridge Harriers Juniors and has been involved in coaching over the last 10 years. Coaching three times a week, he has also provided opportunities for the juniors to compete and develop, including strength and conditioning sessions. Dave has worked very hard to create a team of people around who him make the training sessions engaging and entertaining. The results of his approach saw 20 juniors take part in the National XC for the first time, and countless junior club records beaten this season. In addition to all of Dave's personal commitments to the juniors he has also completed his Timekeeping qualification so that he can help officiate at events.

Dave is the classic, unassuming coach who deserves to be fully recognised for not only creating an entire junior section but also providing opportunities for those who want to excel as well as those who just enjoy being a part of a well organised group.

Coach of the year - runner up: Jan Heslop

To facilitate ability-based training groups for the club’s juniors, Jan Heslop recruited more volunteers and got them qualified. She began monthly coaches’ meetings to share progress and reinstated a monthly trophy for athletes who performed well in competition and training. The juniors’ participation in last season’s cross country and track and field events has been the best ever. She encouraged the introduction of Saturday training - and with the purchase of practice equipment, the juniors have had the benefit of throwing practice for the first time. Long and high jump coaching has also restarted at a local school site.

Jan is a very special coach who works with dedication and kindness to motivate and support all the club’s youngsters whatever their ability.

Inspiring official - winner: Mark Tallon

Mark Tallon has gained a huge amount of knowledge and experience while supporting events at a range of levels – and he’s proactively passed onto other officials and volunteers who are just starting out on their journey while encouraging others to start their journey. He is a huge advocate of officiating and volunteering and is always looking at ways where events can get more support; he is very active within the club and the wider community and has even taken a post working with Northern Athletics.

He is currently working with the local council to ensure that the redevelopment of the track and field site is done in a way that benefits athletes, spectators and of course officials and volunteers. Mark is meticulous in his organisation of events and sets the standards in the North for how athletics should be run.

Paul Moseley presented Mark with his award at a local event.

Inspiring official - winner: Marino Rea Danilowicz

Marino Rea Danilowicz, a Level 3 Field official, has attended many events including the Transplant Games. He is encouraging and supportive of all his fellow officials, and helps develop new officials in a meaningful and fun way. He loves the sport, and also coaches under 11's and under 15's and supports his fellow coaches. He is an integral member of the Club committee; he has redeveloped the website and is improving communication for the club. Marino is the heart and soul of Middlesbrough Athletics Club (Mandale).

Newcomer to volunteering - winner: Chris Snook-Lumb

Chris Snook-Lumb has become heavily involved in the difficult job of organising other volunteers for events as well as assembling the team sheets for entry into these events. He will compete if necessary and also lend his hand to field officiating. He has also taken on coaching to introduce a throwing group for the club. His organisational skills are a wonder to behold - incredibly comprehensive excel data documents kept on a shared drive that track everything in the club from sports inventory to team makeups and future plans.

You can't put a quantity on someone like this, they are helping for the pure love of the sport and that's what is drawing other people in as well. Chris is an asset to any club and a great bloke.

Newcomer to volunteering - runner up: Simon Allen

Taking on the role of Club Communications Officer, Simon Allen improved the website, and ensured that the club’s public facing digital media was streamlined and easily found. He set up online payment for social and race events, and used his skills as a photographer and videographer to record race events and interviews with club members and notable runners - which has heightened the profile of Elswick Harriers. He completed the Leader in Running Fitness in 2020 when he saw the need, and has now also completed his Coach in Running Fitness and encouraged new LiRFs to help coach the beginner / intermediate senior group, plus coaching the juniors himself. His ‘None 2 Run’ group is currently in its fifth cycle , and many graduates have joined the club.

As Simon contributes so much to the club, many assume he has been part of the committee for decades, when in fact he has only been so for two years!

Club Leader of the year - winner: Cian Rynne

After being the club's membership secretary for only a month Cian Rynne took on the role of chairman to steer the club through a rough patch. He split the role of chairman into two positions so it wouldn't be as overwhelming - and got a new committee of concerned athletes and parents. The two Chairs presented a 5 to10 year plan for the club to stabilise and progress, and put a new focus on compliance and safeguarding.

Membership is up nearly 20% since he took on the role - due to active engagement at parkrun to encourage local people to join the club, and inspire university students, members of the local community, and reluctant parents of young athletes to volunteer their help. With a number of new Leaders, Coaches and Officials now qualified, the hope is to secure the future of Durham City Harriers & AC and preserve the legacy of training groups by bringing up new coaches.

Club Leader of the year - runner up: Paul Cook

As Club Chair, Paul Cook has managed to grow the membership of the club significantly over the last few years by making it a much more inclusive environment. He has been a huge influence and encouragement to a lot of people, is supportive of the Run Leaders, coaches and committee members, and always ready to help. He writes a weekly update for all members to keep up with each other’s news.

He recruited his nominator after seeing her name on parkrun results – and when asked wasn’t the club for ‘proper runners’, he said “You run, you're a proper runner”. He persuaded her to give the club a try and it has changed her life.

Paul Moseley presented Paul with his award at a local event.

Community Project of the year - winner: Gateshead Harriers &AC and Gateshead Council

Gateshead Harriers and AC have worked with Gateshead Council to deliver a number of school holiday clubs to disadvantaged primary school children who are on free school meals. This initiative aimed to provide the children with athletics holiday camps together with a nutritious midday meal. The Council provided money to pay for 4 young coaches (all provided by different clubs in the region) coordinated by Gateshead Harriers.

The club coordinated four young coaches (all provided by different clubs in the region) to deliver the activities and Liane Brown has organised the stadium hire and healthy packed lunches. Young volunteer coaches from 4 different clubs have been given the opportunity to lead the coaching and developed their skills along the way which will have raised the level of coaching in their clubs.

Community Project of the Year - runner up: Darlington Harriers and AC

Darlington Harriers & AC strive to proactively support people and charities who need that helping hand. This includes the. Darlington Tri’s McTaggart Trot raising money for the local Hospice , supporting the local food bank and gifts for the local hospital for children who are in the ward over Christmas. The club has supported a number of fundraising fun runs. The club has managed all entries, admin, queries via their website.

The club has really focussed on giving back to the community over a number of years now and have built a reputation for not just their achievements on the track but what is give back to the local community and promoting wellbeing and fitness/getting active to all ages and levels of ability.

Paul Moseley presented the award at a local event.

Services to Athletics - winner: Harry Matthews

Harry has been a passionate supporter of the club for 63 years having joined at the age of 12 in 1959. Throughout that period, he has been active in the sport, whether as an athlete, adjudicator, team manager, or coach. He has been Club Chair since 2018.
Beyond the club, he is a Run Britain Adjudicator and regularly adjudicates at road race events in the northeast region. For over thirty years, Harry has enjoyed being part of the England Masters Athletics Association cross country team selection panel.

He is currently the assistant cross-country secretary within British Masters Athletics Federation. He has taken the Leader in Running Fitness course in order to assist with junior coaching at the club on account of growing junior numbers. He also helps out with the None2Run programme mentoring adults starting running for the first time.

As a Councillor on the England Athletics North East Regional Council and general secretary of Veteran Athletics North East England, Harry Matthews has promoted running in the region.

Services to Athletics - winner: Chris Betts

A reasonable runner at one time, Chris Betts became an active parent to his athlete daughter in 1988, and soon became team manager. Keen to develop the sport he was an active proposer of combining the men’s and women’s league teams into today’s joint scoring format. He was the instigator of the North East Youth Development League for NE clubs and a key member on the NECAA plus chair of the T&F subcommittee, where he has encouraged innovation and fresh ideas. Chris has never been afraid to listen to others and institute change for the benefit of the sport. A former County Officials’ Secretary and Chair of the Regional Council, he is now North East licensing officer for T&F.

It is as a member of the North East YDL, the North East Grand Prix, and various County Championships that Chris is mostly associated with today. Their financial success has allowed the NECAA to purchase equipment such as EDMs, and Photofinish. His events have a wide reputation for being efficiently organised and well run; competitors from all parts of the region frequently extend their congratulations to the organisers.