We’re five awards nights down, with four to go for this year’s Regional Volunteer Awards - celebrating the first-class contribution of athletics and running volunteers across the country.
Last night we shone a light on the effort, hard work and dedication shown by volunteers throughout the Yorkshire & Humber region. Broadcast live on YouTube, we announced the 2021 Regional Volunteer Awards winners and runners-up for Yorkshire and Humber.
Our England Athletics Regional Volunteer Award winners and runners-up for Yorkshire and Humber region are:
Club of the year: Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers, North Yorkshire
A sense of community and a determination to keep building and growing despite Covid, has led to Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers gain over fifty new members, hold almost thirty virtual events, and develop at least three new run leaders. Part of their success is their ability to provide something for everyone; there are groups for any levels of ability, and every new member is allocated a ‘buddy’ to welcome them to the club and answer any questions about training and racing.
Developing new leaders, especially women who can help welcome new female runners has been a key focus of activity for the club, with the newly trained leaders in turn being mentored by more experienced leaders and coaches. Alongside this internal development, the club has also allowed non-members to take part in its virtual events, as well as having a virtual match against a neighbouring club. All this has gone to ensure a great community spirit and a club set to thrive well into the future.
Runner-up: Bridlington Road Runners
Coach of the year: Charlene Thomas, Harrogate Harriers, North Yorkshire
Determined to overcome the difficulties imposed by lockdown, Charlene found ways to continue to develop her athletes, working with many of them solo or in pairs. This commitment has enabled almost all the young athletes in her group to qualify for the ESAA championships across a range of sprint and hurdles events. Herself a former international middle-distance runner, Charlene took the decision to focus on coaching sprints and has put much time and dedication into learning the technical aspects of these events, also adding hurdles to her bank of knowledge.
Charlene’s group is a mix of young and old, male and female, and she prepares tailored plans for each and every one, meeting with the group several times a week, and making a special effort to continue track training as much as possible.
Runner-up: Richard Harris
Unsung Hero of the year: Kathryn Harrison, Run Mummy Run, Yorkshire
With tireless energy, enthusiasm and cheerfulness Kathryn has helped all the Run Mummy Run runners stay in touch and motivated throughout lockdown. As admin and ambassador for the Yorkshire region she has led online discussion groups, kept the forum active with tips, advice and inspiration and has done weekly check-ins via social media to keep in touch with her members. Now the group is out and about again, Kathryn arranges her groups at events, sets up buddies for solo runners, and goes out of her way to attend events to support her members.
Kathryn also organises regional meet ups where she meets and motivates as many people as she can with her positive outlook and supportive approach.
Runner-up: David Smith
Young Volunteer of the year: Holden Outhwaite, Allerton Junior Athletics Club, North Yorkshire
As well as being a county level athlete, Holden still finds time to coach endurance squads within his club, often travelling all over the country to provide support and encouragement. Patient and caring, he is skilled at getting the best out of his athletes, as shown by some of them finishing in the top 10 at this year’s English National Cross Country Championships.
Aged just 18, Holden coaches to county level and has coached since the age of 14. He is a Coaching Assistant and Young Leader and has also managed a team at the North East Youth Development Track League. He volunteers his time willingly and is a superb role model to the junior athletes around him.
Runner-up: William Stones
RunTogether Group of the year: Run Scarborough, North Yorkshire
As well as keeping its members connected and motivated during lockdown, Run Scarborough has also managed to organise a series of challenges for its members. One of the challenges included running a lap of Yorkshire, with a distance versus elevation challenge, and another saw runners tackle the top seven summits. A key event included setting up a relay and endurance run that raised over £6,000 for Scarborough and Ryedale Mountain Rescue, despite taking place on the hottest weekend of the year.
The group prides itself on its community feel, with everyone happy to share knowledge and support each other. There is a broad span of abilities, so everyone has someone to run with, including visually impaired runners who have a plentiful supply of guides happy to run with them.
Runner-up: Team Caterpillar
Leader of the year: Josh Taylor, Bridlington Road Runners, North Yorkshire
Despite suffering serious injuries in a car crash, Josh’s commitment to his junior section has remained as firm as ever as he turns out to coach and inspire them twice a week come rain or shine, using a variety of techniques and running environments. Already a LiRF, Josh has worked hard to increase his coaching knowledge by doing more courses, and his own recovery, exemplifying grit and determination, serves as an inspiration to all around him.
During lockdown the juniors worked in virtual teams with the seniors, and this in turn has led to them becoming a full part of the club family. Seniors in the club have been encouraged to develop coaching skills and as a result, junior membership is growing rapidly as Josh encourages them to focus on teamwork as well as individual excellence.
Runner-up: Sharon Shillito
Innovation in athletics and running: Rob Burn, Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers, North Yorkshire
Almost as soon as lockdown started Rob set up not only a variety of virtual races, but also created a wealth of online training resources including virtual training plans and training sessions on Zoom. And that’s not all; Rob made these resources accessible across the local community leading to more than 50 guests joining in, many of whom have now joined the club. The regularity of these virtual sessions gave members something to look forward to when times were uncertain, so Rob’s innovation has played a big part in maintaining not just running fitness, but also mental health.
Runner-up: Chris Lees
Services to athletics or running: Peter Gifford, Cleethorpes AC, North East Lincs
Peter Gifford has supported athletics, and in particular his club and region, for the past forty years. As well as serving on various club committees, Peter has been involved in both coaching and officiating at every level, from beginners and school competitions, to top level athletes and regional championships. Peter’s depth of knowledge makes him a steady and respected source of advice, both as a coach and an official, and he shows genuine dedication to the wellbeing of his club and athletes.
Peter has played a major part in keeping athletics going and growing before, during and after Covid, and his commitment and determination show he has the vision to continue well into the future.
Runner-up: Stephen Marshall
We are incredibly proud of the heritage of volunteering within our sport; from coaches to officials, run leaders to volunteer coordinators, tuck shop organisers to club secretaries. Our sport simply wouldn’t happen without volunteers. Click here to see how you can get involved.