South West volunteer award winners

The Volunteer Awards 2018 are a chance to celebrate and recognise the unsung heroes amongst all of our volunteers in the Athletics and Running community - volunteers across England have been nominated in 10 categories, and the winners in each of the nine Regions will be recognised then put forward to our National Volunteer Awards.

Our England Athletics regional Volunteer Awards presentation evenings are now complete and the South West awards were presented on 29 September at the Exeter Golf & Country Club. Ten South West Region winners received their awards from special guest Jo Pavey.

The winners are listed here and excerpts from their nominations are below.

  • Spirit of 2012 Award: Irene Brown
  • Inclusion Award: Colin Johnson
  • Athletics or Running Club of the Year: North Somerset Athletic Club
  • Coach of the Year: Chris Millard
  • RunTogether Group of the Year: Muddy Runners
  • RunTogether Leader of the Year: Jo Jayes
  • Volunteer of the Year: Mark Palmer
  • Young Volunteer of the Year: Holly Newman
  • Official of the Year: Mike Strange
  • Services to Athletics or Running: Ronnie James

Spirit of 2012 Award: Irene Brown

Our Spirit of 2012 winner tonight is the co-ordinator of a unique Game Changers project. Exeter Harriers have engaged with the Game Changers project, enabling young people to volunteer at a multitude of varying opportunities, including but not exclusive to, working with their Downs Syndrome Group. And at the helm of this project? One of our very first Team Spirit Champions, Irene! Her commitment and dedication are second to none, and the opportunities she is giving her Game Changers are invaluable.

Inclusion Award: Colin Johnson

If you follow our Team Spirit facebook page, the winner of our inclusion award is no stranger to you. Colin runs VI Runners Bristol, and the success of this group for visually impaired and blind runners is insurmountable! Colin’s group have attracted media attention after the Mayor of Bristol became a guide runner for the group, and the work Colin has done to raise the profile of guide running in the South West is unbelievable. He gives VI runners in Bristol a whole new lease on life.

Athletics or Running Club of the Year: North Somerset Athletic Club

Our winner tonight has strong links with their local schools, connections with local businesses Cadbury House and Brackenwood, and fundraise for local children’s charity, Children’s Hospice South West. They have recently finished phase 2 of their facility build, which the club has fundraised for through all manner of unique events, now consisting of a 60m straight with a long jump area. Being added now is a high jump and pole vault area! They are invested in their volunteers, joining the England Athletics Game Changer project, are now training out of three venues, with sessions taking place every day of the week and are boasting increased performances in cross country and track & field, winning the Avon League this year. And on top of this, two of their Athletes (international Ada’Ora Chigbo and endurance specialist Ellie Wallace) are in America on sporting scholarships.

Coach of the Year: Chris Millard

Our winner tonight is a sprint specialist, who built North Somerset AC up from the ground. He works tirelessly to plan, deliver and evaluate training sessions for athletes of all ages and all abilities, and visiting schools to find talented athletes to join the club. A British Masters sprinter in his own right, he leads the way when it comes to inspiration and success on the track and has always supported the development of those around him. One of his Athletes finished 4th & 5th place in the 100m & 200m at the World Cerebral Palsy Games this summer.

RunTogether Group of the Year: Muddy Runners

This group started as a group of friends going out for runs, but in the past few years, has grown in to so much more. The group has grown so much, it now has 4 coaches, 9 run leaders, 3 “muddy mentors” and 2 mental health champions! As well as encouraging runners to “run and talk”, they have goodwill runs, where runners take donations to local foodbanks, litter pick and they have even decorated a Christmas tree at a local church!

RunTogether Leader of the Year: Jo Jayes

Our RunTogether Leader of the Year received a very heartfelt, personal nomination from just one of the runners she has supported. From someone who says ‘I struggled to run and breath at the same time’, this runner has come on leaps and bounds under Jo’s supportive guidance. She runs 3 running groups every week, and her nominator says “she is a prime example of a good running leader’

Volunteer of the Year: Mark Palmer

Our Volunteer of the Year is an inspirational Coaching Assistant. Mark has been supporting Coach Chip at Exeter Harriers, alongside his own training and competing! He has previously represented Team GB at the International Athletic Association for Persons with Down Syndrome European and World Championships. His goal is to become a fully qualified Coach and he shares his love of the sport and the opportunities it has afforded him with as many people as possible. Mark, we have no doubt you will reach your goal, you are an inspiration.

Young Volunteer of the Year: Holly Newman

Our Young Volunteer of the Year is a young lady keen to develop her skills in a vast number of ways. She is a qualified Coach in Running Fitness, is qualifying as an Official, runs sessions with children who have learning disabilities and organises sessions for women, has recently taken on event management, is the social secretary for the club, gets stuck in as a team manager, and is an incredibly valued member of Avon Valley Runners.

Holly told us, "I’m very grateful for winning the award, I started running 8 years ago with my dad and then I got into the junior side of it. When I got to the older side of juniors I started helping out with social visits, then got asked to join the committee and my responsibilities have gone from there."

Official of the Year: Mike Strange

This Official is a very familiar face in the Bristol and South West Area. A dedicated official, he commits himself to being a great team player, delivering high standard officiating everywhere he goes. Although he hasn’t been in the best of health recently, he can still always be found at the track when he is needed!

Services to Athletics or Running: Ronnie James

Our long-term service award this evening goes to a man who took on a larger role at the club volunteering when he became injured and no longer able to run. He has managed a 2:20.00 marathon, but now puts sessions on every day of the week that athletes can come to, everything from speed work to fitness, boxing and circuits. His immense dedication has won him this award.

After receiving his award, ROnnie said, "It’s wonderful to be recognised, I’ve had such a great evening. It’s been a wonderful day from start to finish, I ran parkrun this morning, drove over to the awards in my little sports car and met Jo Pavey."

Outstanding Contribution to Athletics and Running - Peter Jakeman

There was one additional award presented at the end of the evening; for Outstanding Contribution to our sport.

Peter Jakeman has been an active member of his club since 2000. He was treasurer from 2007-2014, has been a run leader, race director, marked courses and done risk assessments. He has been an incredibly successful runner, selected to run the marathon for England in Chester in 2017, but sadly wasn’t able to fill this place because of a brain tumour. Pete hasn’t let this brain tumour get him down, he has continued to be a fantastic club member, helping in any and every way he can, inspiring all those around him.

Peter told us afterwards, "I feel very honoured to have been nominated and won, it’s been quite an emotional evening."