South East region volunteer awards announced

Club of The Year - winner: Maidenhead AC

Maidenhead AC is a friendly and inclusive club has had a positive impact on members who have additional needs; for example, the coaching team provided visually impaired member Katie Crowhurst with specific running coaching for the Commonwealth Games paratriathlon and it paid off as she won gold.

The Young Coach Development Fund provides juniors transitioning to Senior at 16 with a bursary to qualify as coaches, while club officials are welcomed and more experienced officials mentor new ones. A nominated run leader and group leaders give runners a chance to settle into groups. Club members helped host a successful Easter 10-mile road race. The club has further engaged with the local community through its partnership with Maidenhead United Football Club.

Club of The Year - runner up: Redway Runners

Redway Runners have thirty one different runs on every week to suit all levels and all paces, plus rambles twice a month and various monthly long runs and discovery runs. Every run does loopbacks to ensure that everyone stays together and is safe. The club also offers volunteer-led beginners’ groups, Improvers, Moving up to 10k, Need for Speed and Moving up from Half to Marathon.

The club raised £4000 by hosting events for their runners and other members of the local running community. There are opportunities to go on Club trips, from Lanzarote to Bournemouth - the atmosphere is great! Their annual event ‘Beat the Barge’ raised over £1000 from runners, BBQ, cake stall, coffee van, two local physiotherapists and a raffle.

Coach of The Year - winner: Rob Russell

An athlete says of his coach Rob Russell , “He has been a brilliant source of support, encouragement and advice. I consider him one of the most important figures in my development as a person as well as an athlete.”

Rob leads by example as a county manager for SCAA and is also the race director for Surrey County Champs and an endurance official, as well as mentoring a trainee coach. He is also leading the way with support for female athletes, arranging for an expert on the effects of the menstrual cycle on sports performance, to spend time talking to his  young females athletes. What makes him special? Rob is an all-round huge asset to his club and his athletes.

Coach of The Year - runner up: Alex Smith

Alex Smith has put a lot of time and effort into coaching his small but dedicated group of throwers. During the last 12 months his athletes have flourished and seen significant improvement. Alex was a parent whose children has long since given up athletics but he has developed himself as his athletes have developed so he is able to continue to support them as they progress. He is part of a network of throws coaches and continues to learn as part of the Youth Talent Programme which his athletes are part of. He constantly researches and post useful advice and videos on the Group’s Facebook page to bring to life topics discussed in training.

Alex is a committed coach but also supports other aspects of club activities such as officiating and help with the website but his main contribution to Radley AC by far is coaching.

Inspiring official - winner: John Wright

John Wright has been involved with Bracknell AC for over 40 years as an Athlete, Committee Member, Chairman, Secretary and National level Official. He works with new officials and helps mentor them though the intricacies of each event and on the wider aspects of Field Judging, Clerk of the Course, Referee and Technical Manager. This summer John delivered entertaining, inclusive and informative introductory sessions for club members and parents allowing them to learn outside the pressure of competition, reduce the mystery of officiating and enabling people to work together as a team.

John's enthusiasm for athletics and officiating is evident to all who meet him, Bracknell AC are very lucky to have him.

Inspiring official - winner: Alan Vincent

Alan Vincent serves on the regional and County Committee, organizing officials for meetings, recruiting and educating new officials in a very professional, warm and friendly way. Over the years he has encouraged and mentored dozens of new officials and always has time to talk to them and offer a kind word of encouragement. As Chief  timekeeper at a very busy County champs, he found time to give positive feedback to a trainee starter and to his nominator separately.

Alan is always quick to a smile and he treats everyone with the same courtesy, ready to help immediately with questions or direct you to the right information.

Newcomer to volunteering - winner: Annie Male

Since joining our club, Annie Malehas excelled and made a difference in a variety of ways, in particular her initiatives to assist with parent involvement and provision of information. She is a high jump coach and also team manager for league matches. She recognised that many parents did not want to constantly refer to the website, and instead organised a monthly newsletter. She also created an induction pack of all new and existing members, designed to reassure and inform. She organised a meet and greet for parents to talk to committee members.

Annie’s communication platforms also share news about senior athletes as they compete on the international stage. This can inspire many parents and their youngsters!

Newcomer to volunteering - runner up: Joe Frew

Joe Frew is an athlete, team manager and official supports new young athletes and encourages the girls to compete for the club, while having fun. He also helps with coaching and officiating when needed. He has exceptional organisational skills- managing 6 teams across 4 age groups, in 2 leagues as well as competing in decathlon, and finishing A levels. He is truly dedicated to the sport and helping others to enjoy it! Joe is exceptional in the maturity, commitment to the club and support of athletes that he has shown at such a young age. Joe’s impact has been seen in the confidence the girls have, their enjoyment of the sport and the example that he sets to others.

Club Leader of the year - winner: Leigh Henderson

Leigh Henderson has recruited a significant number of new coaches to the club in his role as coaching coordinator (previously a role with little direction or focus), his enthusiasm and love for the support for the sport, along with his caring and approachable demeanour have been key to this. An improved pathway for athletes and  a strong emphasis on continual development of coaches within the club, mean improved opportunities for athletes and reduced waiting lists. Also now Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC’s new chairman Leigh has also recruited some excellent people into appropriate roles, has established frameworks within the club and has ultimate trust and respect from coaches, committee and athletes within the club.

Club Leader of the year - runner up: Nichola Poulton

A current club chairperson, active club run leader, cross country coordinator and a previous welfare officer who recruited a replacement volunteer and supported them into the role.  Nichola Poulton has been instrumental in relaunching club championships, delivering a beginners’ running programme that expanded the membership and created an income stream, and a driving force behind the club’s Club Standards compliance.

She leads several training sessions a month and has played an active role in growing the run leading team and delivered cross country specific training sessions for the club.  She has engaged with community partners arranging takeover days at parkrun, promoting local club and the driving force behind a club donation to a sustainability charity who own the land where we trail train. Nichola is a fantastic ambassador for Harwell Harriers.

Community Project of the Year - winner:  Semeena Khan, Crawley Run Crew

How many running clubs offer a weekly walking group for the elders of a local diverse ethic community?  A successful funding application to Sport England Tackling Inequalities Fund and working with the newly established Sudhan Welfare Society (SWS) and the Crawley Health and Well-Being team, Crawley Run Crew set up a walking group for the elders of the local Pakistani community who were very much isolated. The structured programme, provision of kit, and led by Semeena Khan - a member of the community who the club have invested in as both a Run Leader and Coach - has led to positive health outcomes and better cohesion within the community and club.

Community Project of the Year - runner up: Medway Fit

Founded in 2013 by athletes determined to make an impact in their local community, this dynamic social running club is based in an area known to have a poor uptake of physical activity for the region. Supported by low running costs, sales of kit, and successful funding bids, membership and the Couch to 5k programmes are free. Medway Fit has created a unique sense of belonging with membership that reflects the diverse cultural and linguistic profile of the area to support physical and mental health for athletes of all. Medway Fit has also formed multiple partnerships with national and local organisations to keep running affordable with a range of discounts available to members.

Services to Athletics - winner: Paul Eales

Paul Eales started as an international marathon runner and has coached, taught coaches and been involved at every level in the sport including team managing, and has used his experience to contribute to coach and athlete development with workshops and a website.

But it is as the competition director of the Lily B League for the past 25 years that he has excelled. He has made it an excellent competition for girls and young athletes that provides strong foundations for athletes to build their skills and enjoy their sport. He also encourages adults to get involved as volunteers and builds their confidence so they often become officials. Paul is a modest man who gives tirelessly and everyone who works with him seems to gain confidence in what they do.

Services to Athletics - winner: Malcolm Charlish

Malcolm Charlish is a stalwart of Bracknell AC and Berkshire Athletics for 40 plus years, filling committee and membership roles, as well competing over cross country. As an engaged parent he and his wife Barbara helped out by officiating at club events - both rising to officiate at London 2012. He has been a member of the Track officials peer group, and is qualified in Endurance and Photofinish at Level 4.

Since 1988, Malcolm’s organised the Bracknell Young Athletes meeting officials, ensures that club officials can gain experience and learn from others. He is keen to adopt technology and helped enable an online registration system to allow seeding and Photofinish to work seamlessly, better deliver the championships and reduce the administration overhead. Malcolm typifies the all-round volunteer clubs need, willing to help, taking responsibility for delivering competition and supporting the development of officials and committee members.

2021 winners

Some of the 2021 winners joined the celebrations, having won in 2021 but not had the chance to attend a live event.

  • RunTogether Group of the Year 2021: West Berkshire Run Together – Monday Motivators
  • Coach of the Year: Jonathan Tilt, Southampton Athletic Club
  • Club of the Year: Reading AC
  • Services to athletics or running: Liz Flitcroft, Coach and Official, Basingstoke and Mid Hants AC

Read their citations from last year.

2021 South East winners at 2022 event