Winners and runners-up for Regional Volunteer Awards for London

The England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards are underway – shining a spotlight on the amazing volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help keep our sport running through such a challenging year.

The second of this year’s virtual Regional Volunteer Awards nights took us to London. Broadcast live online, we were delighted to be able to reward the exceptional and vital contribution that volunteers in the London region have made to Athletics and Running.

Our England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards winners and runners-up for London are…

Athletics and Running @home Award – London

Joint Winners: Steve Gardner (Belgrave Harriers) and Angus Butler (Herne Hill Harriers)

Steve Gardner of Belgrave Harriers and Angus Butler of Herne Hill Harriers are joint winners of the first Athletics & Running @Home Regional Volunteer Award for London. Although they are from rival clubs, they collaborated to pioneer a virtual racing format and to organise the first endurance track races since lockdown. In a wider sense, Steve and Angus set the ball rolling for virtual racing and played an important part in getting track racing back up and running in England as soon as it was safe to do so. Their innovative approach made sure their teammates had as many racing opportunities as possible during an extremely short season. Their infectious enthusiasm, optimism and can-do spirit has kept both clubs and other athletes talking to each other and motivated throughout lockdown. Their innovation inspired the virtual national relays and countless more virtual races, allowing thousands of runners to compete when almost all other sports could not. Steve and Angus pooled their club officials and volunteers to improvise another format and stage the first endurance track races since lockdown. By following guidance and sharing their Covid-secure plans they showed other clubs, venues and organisers that track racing could be held simply and safely despite the challenging circumstances.

Runner-up: Amelia Pettitt (Kent AC)

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Club of the Year – London

Winner: Blackheath and Bromley Harriers AC

150 years young, Blackheath and Bromley Harriers AC remains forward-looking and a well-deserved winner of the Club of the Year award for London. With 800+ members, the club has incorporated, become a charity and modernised its constitution and policies. Communication with members is a priority through an expansion of its website and social media platforms (weekly President’s briefings, interviews with notable members, lockdown updates and sharing athletes’ activities). Current members include Dina Asher-Smith and her coach John Blackie, Adam Gemili, Hollie Arnold and Helen Godsell. The club aids the governance of our sport by member involvement on its Regional Council, County Associations and England Athletics Board. The club also provides seminars on topics such as nutrition and mental health. Members established the BEES Academy for U11s and many then join the club as U13s. The club hosts annual development days for aspiring athletes of all abilities and its coaches offer training for a full range of disciplines and ability levels allowing newcomers to decide where they feel most comfortable: there is something for everyone from U13s to Masters. The club also holds regular social events and encourages parents to socialise and become involved: many go on to volunteer as officials, committee members and supporters. The club gives financial support to its volunteers to enable them to improve their skills.

Runner-up: Ruislip RC

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Coach of the Year – London

Winner: John Shepherd (Enfield & Haringey AC / David Weir Carshalton)

Registered at Enfield & Haringey, and based at David Weir Carlshalton, John Shepherd wins the Coach of the Year award for London. His dedication and constant encouragement led him to set up a lockdown WhatsApp group with 50+ athletes. He then sent out daily programmes, uploaded videos of himself demonstrating the various exercises and encouraged remote ‘competition’ between his athletes. He also created a mini movie of all his athletes in action to help keep them upbeat and engaged. John offers individual feedback to his athletes in a positive and encouraging way and always adapts any session to include those at different stages of learning their technique. His eye for detail is incredible and he offers personalised support and exercises for those who are carrying an injury or coming back from an injury. Highly respected by his athletes, John gives constant encouragement, support, feedback and advice on how to correct their technique while competing. He has a number of multi event athletes in his training group and he not only offers support at the long jump pit, but also with the hurdles, high jump, shot put and sprints too. He also mentors other coaches who have athletes with high potential.

Runner-up: David Liston (Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC)

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Run Leader of the Year – London

Winner: Jane Vongvorachoti (Run Higher Collective)

Leader of the Year winner Jane Vongvorachoti helped set up a new group "Run Higher Collective" when the New Balance Run Club shut down as a result of the pandemic. Jane's passion for running, helping others succeed with their goals (both in and outside of running), and care for the team's mental health really helped keep a community together. Her ability to motivate people and willingness to share knowledge with everyone no matter their experience level in running is unmatched. She launched Zoom sessions online for the RHC community to continue learning and keeping running safely with the idea to meet in person again once safe to do so. A Thai Olympian marathoner in the 2016 Rio Olympics, personal trainer at Equinox and most amazingly, a new mother who gave birth to her first baby this year, Jane is also working on her career goals to compete in the 2021 Olympics at an elite level. Coming from a Thai background she inspires BIPOC/BAME runners to come together and be represented within the community. She also mentors other run leaders and coaches, offering guidance about the personal training, fitness and running industry and helping them develop their goals to succeed.

Runner-up: Gary Taylor (Dash For Fitness)

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Official of the Year – London

Winner: Steve Marshall (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers)

Congratulations to Steve Marshall of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers for winning the Official of the Year award for London in the English Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards. Highly knowledgeable, experienced and professional, Steve is always willing to give his time and share his expertise with other less experienced officials. Steve does a lot of mentoring of up-and-coming officials and is always willing to give advice when asked or make gentle suggestions to those who are still learning or who are not sure what to do in different situations. He is calm, thoughtful and quick to realise the needs of others. He is incisive, astute and fair, gets his points over with humour and good nature and is prepared to be the ‘critical friend’ we all need as we make our way on the officiating journey. As a senior official, Steve is always there at every level of meeting in a variety of roles to make sure that events run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. One of the very helpful things he does is share his tips and experience on his comprehensive website and he also regularly delivers presentations at SEAOA conferences and National conferences.

Runner-up: Tamsin James (Woodford Green AC with Essex Ladies)

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RunTogether Group of the Year – London

Winner: Dash For Fitness

The RunTogether Group of the Year for London award for 2020 goes to Dash For Fitness run by Gary Taylor. A community of people of all abilities and backgrounds, Gary has made sure that the group is known for being friendly and inclusive. New members are welcomed, supported and quickly integrated into the group where everyone wants people to do their best. The combination of peer support, non-competitiveness and overall friendliness keeps everyone coming back every week. It would have been the easiest option during the current COVID-19 pandemic for the group to disburse but, in fact, the group has grown closer and stronger with virtual runs and group challenges. The seamless transition from actual runs to virtual runs has proved to be an invaluable lifeline when lockdown came into force. The members have continued to motivate, check in with others and care. Running may have brought the group together but beyond that it has created friendships and camaraderie, introducing people who maybe wouldn’t have met under other circumstances. There are a large number of regular members but also many people who simply come when they can because they know they will be greeted with a cheery smile rather than a ‘where have you been’ conversation.

Runner-up: Coulsdon Runners

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Services to Athletics or Running – London

Joint Winners: Keith Hopson and Don Blackett (both Woodford Green AC with Essex Ladies)

Keith joined Woodford Green Athletic Club in the 1950s and as a youth and junior athlete he competed at club and county level at middle distance. He went on to enjoy another 20 years of competition at club level on track, cross country, and road running. His main contribution to athletics, at both club and national level, has been as an administrator over the last 60 years acting as Club Vice Captain to the Track and Field Team, the Club General Secretary, Cross Country Secretary, Assistant General Secretary, Club Treasurer and for the last 20 years as the Team Manager for the women’s Track and Field Team. Invariably, he would also fill in any committee posts where there was a gap, in addition to his other duties. Keith was also a qualified field events judge and starter/marksman at club and county level. He has also been (and currently) the Finance Officer for the British Athletics League (now the National Athletics League). The club is eternally grateful for the service that Keith has given and still gives to the club and Athletics. His happy demeanour and help to others have been a great benefit to the club over many years.

Don joined Woodford Green Athletic Club in 1967 and represented the club regularly on the track as a middle-distance runner, but his main competitive interests were cross country and road running. He is one of the few remaining Woodford club members who ran in the first ever Metropolitan Cross-Country League in 1967 and continued to run in the league until he hung up his spikes in 1982. He became a grade one track and field official, at club, county, major national and international meetings. He also participated in many training events for track and field officials to earn their qualifications. A tireless worker for the club and the sport’s governing bodies for over forty years, he was the Young Members Secretary for ten years, the club’s press officer and amongst the many Woodford club members who inspired the first ever International Veterans meeting at Crystal Palace in 1972. His administrative skills were also used at national level where he has served on the Southern Counties committee, on the BAL Finance Committee and served as the club’s representative on the Redbridge Council Sports Committee. Don continues to be a supporter of the club for Metropolitan Cross-Country fixtures and the BAL meetings.

Runner-up: Jean Burgess (Woodford Green AC with Essex Ladies)

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Volunteer of the Year – London

Winner: Claire Austridge (Blackheath and Bromley Harriers AC)

Claire Austridge of Blackheath and Bromley Harriers AC is the winner of this year’s Volunteer of the Year award for London. As a member of the Parents’ Council and the House & Social Committee, Claire can always be found with a big welcoming smile on her face. Her love for the club and passion for athletics is clear and is reassuring, understanding and always extends a helping hand. Claire carries out the critical role of safeguarding officer, which she undertakes in an intelligent, informed, empathetic and non-judgmental manner. This is a huge role for a club the size of Blackheath and Bromley: record keeping, reviewing the status of volunteer’s coaches and officials for regulatory checks, reviewing and informing the members of enhancements, changes and amendments to guidance from the governing body. Claire has also started training to become an official. She is an ever-present chaperone on trips away, such as the National Cross Country, Relays and YDL finals trips. She also acts as a team manager assistant for the junior women’s team on European trips, while dual hatting with her safeguarding hat on. Claire is a valued officer of the club and has been a Vice-President since 2016.

Runner-up: Billy Green (Ilford AC)

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Young Volunteer of the Year – London

Winner: Samuel Wintle (Woodford Green AC with Essex Ladies)

22-year-old Samuel Wintle of Woodford Green AC with Essex Ladies has been volunteering as a coach of the club’s “Wasps” section since he was 15. The “Wasps” introduce 8-10 year olds to athletics in a fun environment with the aim that they then progress to the main club. Now a student, Sam has continued to help out at these vital sessions for the club’s young 8-10 year old aspiring athletes. Since taking over the leadership of the sessions, Sam has shown great maturity in leading the group including working with older coaches. He has also involved other young people in helping with the coaching and the 8-10 year olds respond well to their enthusiastic approach. The U11 group within the club is flourishing and this is in no small part to Sam's leadership. He has also improved the integration between the Wasps and the rest of the club by involving other club coaches to give sessions for particular events. Parents of the young athletes witness Sam's enthusiasm every week and many of them are now getting involved in coaching and volunteering within the club, inspired by Sam’s work. Sam is also working towards gaining higher level coaching qualifications.

Runner-up: Holly Platt (Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC)

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Click here to find out more about our 2020 England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards.

London Regional volunteer awards zoom screen