Volunteers are the lifeblood of athletics and running. They help athletes and runners reach their full potential, allow training and competitions to take place and ensure the sport is safe, inclusive and fun.
We are incredibly thankful to all our volunteers, and it is for this reason that the Regional Volunteer Awards are such an important part of what we do. The Awards give us the opportunity to recognise the outstanding work of volunteers and thank them for their contribution to the sport.
We had the pleasure of catching up with one of our Services to Athletics and Running Winners, Paul Sanderson, who told us a little more about his story.
Paul originally got involved in athletics and running as a 13-year-old. He took part in cross country and was inspired by his secondary school teacher:
“In the 1960’s my PE teacher helped with the formation of Rossendale Harriers & AC and pupils at my school started to compete regularly in cross country.”
After finishing University and training as a teacher, Paul moved to Telford:
“There was only one club in the area so in 1976 I helped form Telford AC. The club originally started supporting young athletes in cross country. Telford AC has grown and is now involved in road running, track and field and the council supported the development of a local track.”
Being nominated for the Awards
Paul was nominated by a member of Telford AC. He explained how being nominated was a complete, but pleasant, surprise:
“I was really pleased to be nominated, as although it isn’t the reason I’m involved in the sport, it was nice to know my contribution to athletics and running has been appreciated. I have spent 44 years as a club secretary!”
Winning an Award
Whilst Paul was happy to be nominated for the Award, he was even more delighted to learn he had won:
“I felt very proud, and it was special to be acknowledged by England Athletics. Being appreciated by the sport you are involved in made it more important for me.”
As well as giving Paul a boost, the club also received a lift from his success. Paul told us that Telford AC were really pleased for him and that he was congratulated by many of the club members.
The Regional Award was presented to Paul by Stuart Paul, the West Midlands chair. When Paul went on to win the National Award, Jenny Meadows spoke of his contribution to the sport and the community which was another proud moment. Since winning the Award, Paul has had some time to think about the work he has done:
“It has made me reflect on my involvement in the sport. Over the years I have had a range of voluntary roles including organising events, officiating and coaching. I’m still involved in organising races and I work as a point of contact for the track with the local council. My greatest sense of achievement has been seeing the journey of Telford AC and the development of the track in the area!”
Why the Regional Volunteer Awards are important
Paul explained how the Regional Volunteer Awards are important as they recognise the contribution of volunteers:
“Without volunteers we wouldn’t have a sport. Everything starts at grass roots, so it is nice that those involved in making the sport happen are acknowledged. Volunteers are the backbone of races, training, competitions and club events.”
Paul’s final comment really rings true:
“There is a role for everyone in athletics and running. It is important we create a welcoming sport and those involved are recognised. The Regional Volunteer Awards provide the perfect platform to do this. Whether you have a new volunteer in your club or a long-standing member who has supported our sport for years, please take the time to submit a nomination and thank them for their contributions.”
Feeling inspired to submit a nomination?
Visit our Volunteer Awards 2022 nomination page and nominate someone who has made a difference. Applications close on the 31 August.
- Read our spotlight piece on Henrietta Anstey, winner of the Newcomer to Officiating Award in 2021.