The South West Regional Volunteer Awards took place last Saturday evening in Exeter, and brought together volunteers most deserving of recognition this year.
SW Council Chair Richard Llewelyn-Eaton delivered a welcoming speech and then introduced the room to five time Olympian Jo Pavey who spoke about her career and the impact volunteers have had on her athletics journey. She also made all the presentations throughout the evening. England Athletics Head of Clubs and Participation Emma Davenport concluded the evening thanking everyone who had attended for their commitment to athletics and running.
Club of the year - winner: Dorchester Riot
Dorchester Riot creates a friendly and welcoming environment and always goes above and beyond to provide members with the best possible experience. From hosting Run and Talk sessions to delivering couch to 5k programmes and weekend trail runs, the club makes sure nobody is ever left behind. Dorchester Riot makes sure everyone is rewarded, whether it is for effort, speed, distance or for overcoming obstacles and barriers to running. The club’s support also extends to the community. Through team challenges they raise money for local charities and items for foodbanks, and has also teamed up with the local LIONS to support a new parkrun.
Club of the year - runner up: Newton Abbot AC
Newton Abbot AC is being recognised for the great work they have done to bring more young athletes into the club. Over the past year, they have developed an excellent U13 and U15 squad. The friendly atmosphere and strong coaching structure at the club ensures both athletes and coaches feel supported. The club also work with Torbay AC to compete in the South West League where this year, particular success came in the U13 and U15 girls' categories. The club also saw multiple athletes crowned South West Champion. Perhaps what is most impressive is that this has been done without access to a track. Congratulations!
Coach of the year - winner: Steve Shaw
Our coach of the year is an invaluable member of Taunton AC who regularly takes on more than his role to ensure the club continues to develop and grow. Steve Shaw's dedication to his athletes, particularly to the Combined Events group, has seen athletes of all ages develop and succeed. One of his athletes even secured a British vest at the European U18 championships. Steve selflessly spends hours developing specific training plans, researching new methods and improving techniques for his athletes which demonstrates his ‘above and beyond’ attitude towards the wider athletics community. He often assists other groups at the club offering technical and well-being support to bring out the best in all those around him.
Coach of the year - runner up: Charlotte Fisher
Charlotte Fisher has been chosen as she instils inspiration in all those who run in her group. Coaching a wide-ranging athletics group, she has encouraged, supported and enhanced all those around her. Her commitment and dedication to athletes, no matter the age or ability, illustrates the character, strength and support each member receives. From travelling nationally and internationally to support her athletes, to planning meticulously tailored sessions for every individual, Charlotte has shown and proved to everyone that whilst life may throw challenges and obstacles in the way, resilience, determination and support can truly drive you back to your best.
Contribution to officiating: Les Curtis:
Les Curtis is a true inspiration to all other officials; he is always willing to help others to improve and has a good sense of humour. He has a good rapport with the athletes many of which he has coached, and he still has useful advice to pass on to those competing in endurance events. Les is a highly respected level 3 timekeeper and he helps at meetings for his club Exeter and Devon County events in all weathers. He is one of the most reliable timekeepers and produces some very accurate times often agreeing perfectly with the electronic times. Les is a real character, and his fellow officials appreciate his contribution to the sport and his baking skills! He regularly brings cakes along to events to share with other officials.
Inspiring official - winner: Paul D'Arcy
Paul D’Arcy has officiated at all levels of competition from local open meets to national championships. He also officiated internationally at this summer’s Commonwealth Games. As a field judge, his experience, advice and knowledge has inspired numerous individuals at Yeovil Olympiads AC, and across the South West, to sign up to courses and embark on their officiating journey. Paul brings professionalism to all the club events he officiates at and he has been instrumental in providing the latest electronic starting and measuring equipment through securing the necessary funding. His infectious enthusiasm and dedication encourages people to be the best they can be.
Inspiring official - winner: Keith Reed and Jayne Reed
Devon and South West Track and Field, Sports Hall and Cross Country events are rarely seen without the high level officiating of our two winners Keith and Jayne Reed. Their driven and dedicated enthusiasm for these events sees that they are run to the highest standard allowing the athletes to gain the performances they require and deserve. The encouragement and support that they give to new and aspiring officials is invaluable in ensuring the next generations of events are officiated to the same high standard. Without their dedication, athletics in the area would have struggled to develop and give the athletes the very best in competition standards.
Inspiring official - winner: Stuart Woodman
Starting events across the Midlands and the South West, Stuart Woodman's knowledge and application of the rules has earned the trust and respect of athletes, parents and coaches alike and ensures the best of athletics comes to the fore at competitions. The enthusiasm he shows for his role has encouraged the next crop of officials to demonstrate their ability and exude a confidence at the meets they officiate. Stuart's affable manner, good sense of humour and professionalism enable him to give the athletes the best possible event experience. The compassion and respect shown for the athletes under his authority is a tribute to the character and expertise he brings.
Newcomer to volunteering - winner: Emma Plimmer
From becoming a field official, to liaising with other clubs in the region, to acting as team manager for the club cross country events, our winner is one of those special volunteers who will offer to do anything. She brings energy and organisation to everything she turns her hand to. Such enthusiasm and engagement, ensures the events put on and assisted through the club deliver the best possible experience for the athletes. She truly goes above and beyond to support the club and its members. Congratulations to Emma Plimmer.
Newcomer to volunteering - runner up: Jasmine Robinson
Jasmine Robinson’s enthusiasm, dedication and attention to detail are a huge credit to everything that she does for Plymouth Musketeers Running Club. From leading running groups, to updating the club’s social media pages and running herself, she is passionate about running and supporting all her clubmates. Jasmine is often the first there on club nights and at races will always support the members right up until the final finisher. The ability and confidence that she brings to her roles allows her to shine at a club that she loves and that loves her just as much.
Club Leader of the year - winner: Sharon Terry
Our Club Leader of the year assumes several roles at Erme Valley Harriers ranging from Couch to 5k lead, official, coach and committee member. Sharon Terry is involved in every aspect of the club and does so with passion, dedication and encouragement. She has introduced a whole new group of runners to the club through the Couch to 5k programme and plays a vital role in recruiting volunteers and session leaders to help continue this work. Sharon has tirelessly devoted herself to creating and delivering integrated sessions from the juniors she coaches right up to the new runners joining from the wider community. She has been truly influential in developing and driving the club forward; she is a true leader at Erme Valley Harriers.
Club Leader of the year - runner up: Paula Ferris
This individual’s leadership and dedication to Honiton Running Club has continued to blossom over the last year. A long-standing member of the club, Paula Ferris' first year as Chairman was a great success planning inclusive events and organising and delivering training runs at weekends to offer the best to the club’s members. She started a Couch to 5k course in January and after ensuring that all members achieved their aims, encouraged a significant proportion to join Honiton. Paula 's bright and bubbly character, and her ‘can do’ attitude, has ensured all members feel able to join Honiton and proves that running really is accessible to all.
Community project of the year - winner: Team Bath AC - Natasha Lewis Foundation
Our community project of the year has done far more than honour a loved one’s memory who thrived in the club environment at Team Bath AC. Natasha Lewis excelled at numerous events from Long Jump and the 200m to long distance running. This passion for athletics has shone through in the project’s support to local athletes at Team Bath AC. The project supports athletes through the obstacles that Natasha herself confronted through her athletics career, from kit provision to physiotherapy sessions, strength and conditioning and guidance and mentorship. Athletes under this guidance are supported through tailor-made packages. Whilst the loss of Natasha will always be present, her spirit and endeavour in our sport will live on through those athletes who are supported by the Foundation.
Community project of the year - runner-up: Yate AC
Yate AC's project started out as an initiative to start sessions for disabled athletes, but it has since been taken to a new level. The project is now called Adaptive Athletics and it has made a massive difference in growing diversity and numbers at the club. Starting from scratch, one club member, Jim, has sought funding and obtained grants to buy equipment, fund facility hire and get coaches involved. The club now runs five sessions a week. Jim has also put in taster events as well as competitions and aims to grow a network of clubs in the South West. Congratulations to Jim and Yate AC.
Services to Athletics - winner: Geoff Williams
This individual is a quiet professional who never gives anything but his best. He holds numerous roles on the club committee and is often seen assisting with ESAA and SIAB events. The rejuvenated North Devon Cross Country League, which allows a huge number of participants from clubs and schools across the region to take part in athletics, owes itself to this individual. He is a welcoming and supportive person who has made a lasting impression at every level of athletics. The community projects he has been part of have allowed athletics in the region to develop at every level. Congratulations to Geoff Williams.
Services to Athletics - winner: Mike Strange
This individual has been involved with Bristol & West AC for over 50 years. He competed for the club in 1968 and has been coaching since 1972. He has aided the club on its management committee, helped set up the Midlands Athletics League and given up his time at countless events as a Level 3 Timekeeper and Chief Track Judge. He always encourages others to get involved and has been hugely supportive in the development of others in the club. Some of his most recent successes include Jodie Hallett who came 4th at English Schools twice and Yannick Budd who went on to compete in the Diamond League after finishing 4th in the British Championships. Congratulations to Mike Strange.
Services to Athletics - winner: Annette Weale
Our next winner has been involved in the sport for over 40 years. She has inspired both junior and senior athletes to get involved with athletics and running and has helped many athletes to qualify for county, regional and national competitions, including English Schools. She is a coach, team manager and active member of the committee at Yeovil Olympiads. She is often described as the ‘backbone’ of middle distance and endurance running at Yeovil and is an Aunt to all. Her success as a volunteer can be measured by her popularity amongst athletes, coaches and other club members. There is no doubt that the Yeovil Olympiads and athletics in Somerset are in a far better place because of her sizeable contribution. Congratulations to Annette Weale.