We’re seven awards nights down, with two to go for this year’s Regional Volunteer Awards celebrating the first-class contribution of athletics and running volunteers across the country.
Last night we rewarded the hard work and dedication shown by volunteers throughout the South East region via a live stream on our YouTube channel.
The 2021 Regional Volunteer Award winners and runners-up for the South East are:
Club of the Year: Reading AC
The club welcomes athletes of all standards and ages from 9 to over 80! Disabled and non-disabled athletes train alongside each other, plus there is a group of visually impaired athletes the club coaches help. Recently the club have welcomed a refugee and a family relocated from Hong Kong. A club hardship fund is available, and there is also a spike exchange box for young athletes. The club pay for any training courses that volunteers wish to attend and provides free kit to coaches and team managers. Volunteers have also joined England Athletics club development sessions.
When training resumed after lockdown, many parents and committee members stepped forward for extra duties to enable training to restart safely. There was a real sense of everyone pitching in so that the athletes could get back to group training. Despite not being able to host any home matches, due to the throws cage being replaced, the Reading AC SAL, AVL and LYDL teams have all won matches, and the NAL and UYDL teams earned second place match results.
Runner-up: Winchester & District AC
Coach of the Year: Jonathan Tilt, Southampton Athletic Club
Using his considerable experience and resources, Jon Tilt helped his athletes and club members keep motivated and active through the restrictions imposed by lockdown. As well as advising members on how to tailor their home training to meet their specific needs, he set up sessions via Zoom and on his YouTube channel, and then later, socially distanced in person sessions.
When it wasn’t possible to access the track, Jon measured a 400m circuit on grass, helping people feel as though real training was possible and making it feel both fun and enjoyable.
Jon’s attitude is welcoming and inclusive and as a result his training group is flourishing, with PBs being celebrated on a regular basis, not just by the individuals themselves, but by the group as a whole.
Runner-up: Mary Wilson
Unsung Hero: Steve Oliver, Winchester and District AC
A long-standing member and stalwart of WADAC, Steve took it upon himself to raise the morale of the club during lockdown, going above and beyond to create an impressive series of virtual competitions. Steve’s virtual Grand Prix consisted of a set of 31 races, all with set distances and elevations, and he recorded and ranked the scores of all runners according to age. These were then emailed to all members so everyone could see how they were doing, serving to keep a sense of normality, competition and motivation throughout the club.
106 runners took part in the challenges in total, ranging from V70 to the very young. Members of other clubs took part too, competing in virtual matches. All in all, Steve’s efforts kept everyone in the club engaged and helped people to stay motivated to get out and run!
Runner-up: Beverly Gow
Young Volunteer of the Year: Alfie Wells, Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC
As well as putting a huge amount of time and energy into learning everything he can about all aspects of officiating, Alfie is also setting his sights on qualifying as a coach and is already gaining experience and knowledge. Alfie began by assisting with warm-ups and has impressed his lead coach with his commitment to learning and willingness to take on all kinds of tasks. Likewise in officiating, Alfie is always happy to help with setting up equipment for events, carrying out a range of tasks in the field.
Alfie’s commitment, dedication and hard work have earned him the respect and admiration of his fellow club members, and also his school, where he played a full part in setting up and officiating the school sports day.
Runner-up: Freya Jury
RunTogether Group of the Year: West Berkshire Run Together - Monday Motivators
A warm welcome, plenty of support and motivation, and lots of fun and laughter – all this and running too are what combine to give West Berkshire RunTogether the family feel which has helped its members come through the pandemic stronger and more united. When group runs weren’t possible, buddy runs were organised alongside other activities such as a photo of your run competition. Now that restrictions have eased, the group continues to keep the family feel alive by ensuring no runners are ever left behind on runs and offering guidance and support to those new to running or attempting competitions for the first time.
Runner-up: Hamstreet Runners
Leader of the Year: Richard Davis, Pevensey Pirates
Starting a running group during the restrictions of lockdown might seem an impossible task, but Richard Davis did exactly that, seeing a need to keep runners motivated and training despite the restrictions around them. By using both social media and WhatsApp Richard has spread both motivation and inspiration amongst the group’s runners who turn up regularly to attend interval training.
The group is open to runners of all abilities, and this regular speed work out has enabled them to maintain not only good levels of fitness, but also stay in good mental health. An added bonus has been that with the formation of a new group, friendships have been made, enabling the group to develop a dedicated core of regular attendees.
Runner-up: Jo Randall
Innovation in athletics and running: Hawkinge Hurricanes Running Club
In the height of the Covid pandemic, the main aim of Hawkinge Hurricanes Running Club was to keep their family of runners mentally healthy and motivated. They achieved this by setting up online challenges and blogs, as well as regular email check-ins and support for those known to be alone or vulnerable. Once allowed to meet again they offered a phased return to training for those with anxiety issues and their mental health team have set up ‘Wellness Wednesdays’ to support those with mental health concerns.
This commitment to the care of their members has meant that the group has not only survived lockdown but has emerged stronger and more united than ever.
Services to athletics or running: Elizabeth Flitcroft, Coach and Official, Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC
Liz has been involved in athletics for more than twenty years. Starting as a parent helper she soon went on to qualify as a coach and now coaches the club’s U11 group twice a week. But it is in officiating that Liz has found her true calling. Her fist officiating role was in 2009 and she has quickly moved onwards and upwards, joining the National List in 2017 and officiating at many major National Championships, including the Muller Anniversary Games in 2019. She puts her knowledge and experience to good use, advising and supporting those new to officiating, and always willing to help her peers with a calm and friendly manner.
With a down to earth personality and a readiness to help, Liz is a great asset not only to her club, but also to the sport of athletics.
Runner-up: Arthur Abbott
We are incredibly proud of the heritage of volunteering within our sport; from coaches to officials, run leaders to volunteer coordinators, tuck shop organisers to club secretaries. Our sport simply wouldn’t happen without volunteers. Click here to see how you can get involved.