We’re approaching the half-way mark of this year’s Regional Volunteer Awards which recognise and celebrate the unsung heroes of our volunteers in the athletics and running community. There are nine award categories in each of the nine regions, and the winners of each award are put forward to our National Volunteer Awards.
Broadcast live on our YouTube channel, we were delighted to be able to reward the dedication, inspiration, and hard work that volunteers in the West Midlands have brought to athletics and running:
Our England Athletics Regional Volunteer Award winners and runners-up for the West Midlands are:
Club of the Year: Redditch Stars
During lockdown, Redditch Stars went above and beyond to ensure their members stayed in touch, kept training and maintained good mental health as well as their physical fitness. By opening up their social media platform for all to access, members were able to share experiences, post pictures of their runs and generally keep each other motivated. The club held its AGM via Zoom, so members could attend, and the club set fees as low as possible, so it was accessible to all, especially families and those who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Showing real care and foresight, the club also trained a team of mental health first aiders, ready to help when the pandemic was over. As a result, the club has been able to not only maintain its membership numbers, but also grow them, ready for the future.
Runner-up: Hereford Couriers
Coach of the Year: David Ashbourne, Leamington Cycling and Athletic Club, Warwickshire
David has continued to develop and inspire a strong mixed ability, mixed age group of throws athletes despite any setbacks presented by Covid. Not only did he provide a full range of training tools online, including Zoom sessions, but he has gone on to develop new sessions including plyometrics and core training.
During lockdown Dave helped his group stay in touch and motivated, and this community feel lives on through three weekly training meetings, often attended by throws athletes from other clubs. At the same time Dave has found time to develop his officiating skills as well as continuing in the role of Club Chair.
Runner-up: Cath Mijovic
Newcomer to Officiating: Jack Lambert, Kidderminster and Stourport, Shropshire
With a friendly approach and an aptitude for problem solving, Jack has gained experience at many competitions in the area and is now a qualified Level 3 Field Judge. He has now acted as Field Referee on several occasions and now plans to make a start in Track Officiating. Jack has shown great tact and diplomacy in the way he manages athletes’ issues or disputes, can manage equipment problems and has helped with every aspect of competition management. All this is done with a calm efficiency that makes everyone feel at ease.
Unsung Hero: Maureen Dargavel, Sneyd Striders Running Club, Birmingham and Black Country
Described by some as “the glue that holds the club together”, Maureen ‘Mo’ Dargavel has gone out of her way to take care of the mental and physical well-being of all her club members during and after lockdown. As well as keeping in touch with people via the club’s social media channels, she is also happy to help those runners struggling with their training, giving tips and advice and sometimes adapting her own pace and training to run with those needing company or motivation.
Alongside this Mo has developed her committee role by completing the England Athletics safeguarding course and undergoing Welfare Officer training. She also organised a club open evening so new members could come along, meet the committee and ask questions about training or any aspect of the club.
Runner-up: Ben Skinner
Young Volunteer of the Year: Shona Murray, Coventry Godiva Harriers
Shona supports her club in a coaching and officiating capacity, but actively contributes as an athlete who trains three times a week. Alongside these commitments, she has been an integral part of the Coventry Godiva Harriers Youth Forum since its inception last year; specifically designing, developing, shaping and implementing youth initiatives based upon feedback collected from her peers to help drive the club forward.
Her support has enthused and engaged those around her. She has singlehandedly enabled over 30 athletes to enjoy athletics and running through coaching groups on a regular basis. Shona is a catalyst that inspires other young club members to volunteer alongside her and is also an excellent role model to younger developing athletes.
Runner-up: Jack Lambert
RunTogether Group of the Year: Penkridge Runners, Staffordshire.
As well as organising safe and compliant running for its members, helping to maintain spirits during lockdown, Penkridge Runners has become a family for many of its members by providing a welcoming atmosphere for all. The group prides itself on its diversity, welcoming members of all ages, gender and minority groups and giving confidence to members with disabilities or mental health issues.
New coaches have been trained from within the membership to meet the needs of the growing membership, and all have brought fresh new ideas to training sessions as well as their newly gained qualifications. When running, the group has a strong belief that no runner should be left behind, with even the most experienced or fastest runners looping back to keep the slower ones company.
Runner-up: Crabbs Cross Chasers
Leader of the Year: Martin Leek, Penkridge Runners, Staffordshire
Martin is a passionate coach who goes out of his way to achieve the best performance from every athlete in his care. His drive and determination help to inspire and motivate those around him, rubbing off on others to create an atmosphere of mutual support and encouragement. Martin plans his sessions with meticulous attention to detail, tailoring each training plan to the individual’s pace and aims, so every athlete can achieve their goals.
Above all, Martin’s enthusiasm and commitment have combined to help build the club into a mutually supportive family of athletes.
Runner-up: Chrissie Prince
Innovation in athletics and running: Spencer Davies, Northbrook Athletic Club, Warwickshire
The development of a set of twelve virtual challenges, that then became actual, in-person activities as restrictions eased, are just part of how Spencer Davies has helped his club and fellow athletes survive lockdown in good physical and mental health. At first, he provided Strava segments and relay challenges with regular updates on social media, moving on to paired competitions and a virtual alternative to the club’s road race league. All this helped keep people connected and promoted a sense of competition when physical competitions could not be held.
Alongside this Spencer has been a calming influence when many have felt stressed and has continued to create a vital sense of camaraderie despite the need to maintain social distancing.
Runner-up: Natasha Tandy
Services to athletics or running: Les Barnett, Leamington Cycling and Athletic Club, Warwickshire
A member of Leamington C&AC since the late 1960s, and a committee member in various roles for over 25 years, Les has excelled in almost all areas of athletics – as an athlete right up to masters level, a coach producing athletes who have won English Schools titles, and an official at referee grade. Les has the ability to lead from the front, but also to delegate and supervise. He is always happy to share his extensive knowledge.
Perhaps Les’ biggest achievement has been helping to establish an eight lane all weather, floodlit track, and club room which he worked closely with the Local Authority to set up. Moreover, under his leadership athletes have won medals from club to world level.
Runner-up: Martin Smith
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.