Yorkshire and Humberside Volunteer Awards evening

Yorkshire and Humberside Region celebrated their local England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards for 2023 on Friday at Darrington Golf Club.

Nominees, accompanied by club mates, friends and family celebrated alongside the Chief Executive of England Athletics, Chris Jones, and from England Athletics Helen Kendall, Non-Executive Director. Nichola Skedgel, Domestic Competitions Manager. Heidi Bradley, Club Support Manager), Dan Isherwood, Head of Operations. Yorkshire and Humber regional council members Malcolm Fletcher and Rich Lord also attended and presented awards.

Below, we reproduce a summary of their nominations which were read out during the evening, plus their reactions to their awards.

Coach of the Year

Winner: Jo Evans (Cleethorpes AC)

Over the last 12 months, this coach has helped athletes to become both regional and national champions, with a group member going on to reach the age group European Championships in the summer.  In addition to supporting elite level athletes, this coach makes sure they are always attentive to everyone, whether they are just starting out in athletics or have been involved for years.  This coach also acts as a mentor to athletes who are interested in starting their own coaching journey.

Whether it is travelling around the country to support her athletes or coaching week in, week out at the track, Jo Evans is always there for the whole squad and works tirelessly with determination, care, and passion to get the very best out of her athletes, all whilst making sure sessions are enjoyable and fun.  

After collecting her award, Jo said: "I'm very overwhelmed to win this award, but very proud. For me, it is seeing the kids enjoy themselves and improving no matter what. They might only improve by a split second but they are amazing."

Runner up: Paul Wray (East Hull Harriers & AC)

This person not only coaches at East Hull Harriers, but he is also the founder of the junior section. He goes above and beyond for his athletes, designing training schedules, finding them competition opportunities and he even helps to taxi them around. He has also delivered a brand-new race series and kids fun run for the local community where the previous was cancelled by the council.

Coaching in a deprived area of the city, this coach ensures that young people have somewhere to go. He has even set up a clothing and shoe bank so they have kit to wear. From juniors just starting in the sport, to marathon runners who have been involved for years, not a day goes by that this coach doesn’t check in on his athletes.

Paul Wray is a true inspiration and coaching local legend.

Club of the Year

Winner: Abbey Runners

This year’s Club of the Year award winners always put their members first. Whether it is welcoming and celebrating new runners, funding coaching qualifications, or organising regular socials, the club prides itself on its inclusive and welcoming approach creating a fun environment for people to enjoy the sport.

Abbey Runners ensure that all members are supported and celebrated through their regular monthly and annual awards. When a new runner joins, they are welcomed into the family with a round of applause. They also have regular couch to 5k and walking groups for beginners, or those wanting to get out and socialise. The club has grown over the years and now has a thriving junior section with dedicated coaches and run leaders ready to make running fun for all ages.

Well done to all at Abbey Runners!  

Speaking after the award presentation, the club said: "We are a very friendly club and we love to welcome people to run with us. We will always give you a warm welcome and you'll be celebrated. Thank you to all the people involved, it does take a lot of dedication from everyone at the club."

Runner up: Carleton Running Community

Formed in March 2022, this club was set up to try and get runners of all abilities in the local community active and enjoying running as a hobby. People are at the centre of this club and they strive to give opportunities to all whether that be in competition, to improve fitness, or socially. Running is not the only focus for this club - they also organise treasure hunts, charity fundraisers, quizzes and parkrun tourism weekends!

Each week the qualified run leaders hold different sessions from couch to 5k to coached sessions and informal social runs, so there really is something for everyone!

Congratulations to all at Carleton Running Community for making such a fantastic contribution to running in such a short space of time. The future looks bright.

Club Leader

Winner: Mark Spence (Savvy Park Runrz)

This club leader goes above and beyond for his club and his community. He is dedicated and committed all year round, supporting both runners and fellow volunteers, advising and supporting them in their roles.

He was the lead in raising funds to install a defibrillator at the local cricket club for both runners and members of the public to use. He also worked with the local council to secure funding to improve the local park – making it a more inviting place to run.

On behalf of the club and the local community, we would like to thank Mark Spence for his fantastic contribution, dedication and commitment as a leader of Savvy Park Runrz.  

"I try to lead by example," Mark explained, "and it passes on as a ripple effect to the other members of the team. Reflecting on the last 20 years at Pontefract 10k we only had 20 runners, now we have 30-40 going to runs all over the country. It's about continuation and encouragement for everyone no matter what their level."

Runner up: Anne Middleton (Denby Dale AC)

This volunteer works tirelessly for her club behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly. Her organised and methodical nature is appreciated every week when she coordinates nine volunteers to run the young athlete training sessions without a hiccup. Being based in a rural location with little athletics infrastructure hasn’t stopped this Junior Section Co-ordinator as she strives to engage young people in athletics and running and give them as many opportunities as possible.

Not only is Anne Middleton a fantastic volunteer herself, but she has also inspired and encouraged others to kickstart their coaching journeys, giving them the chance to get involved and take ownership of sessions.  

Contribution to Running

Winner: Mark Nettleton (Barton & District AC)

This club chairman wears many hats at Barton and District AC as he is also the race director and organiser of the Deepdale Dash and Fun Run, a role which he has undertaken for a staggering 12 years. This event has enabled the club to flourish and grow enormously over the last five years, convincing people from the local community to love running and want to join in on the fun!

The club’s motto is ‘from beginners to winners, small and tall, track, field and road – we do it all.” This club chair truly embodies this, giving the opportunity for runners to race regardless of whether they finish in 30 minutes or in two hours. Well done to Mark Nettleton on his vital contribution to running and the local community in East Yorkshire.

Runner up: Harriet Stevens (Strideout)

This run leader has been described by her runners as the ‘dream run leader’, not only guiding the runs but also devising training plans, creating exciting sessions, and promoting mental health amongst her group of female runners. She always goes above and beyond, even working with a local fitness instructor to provide strength and fitness sessions for her runners.

The club is not just about running and keeping fit, but about fun and friendship, values which Harriet Stevens and her fellow runners are passionate about. Harriet’s infectious enthusiasm has created a supportive environment where runners are achieving more than they ever thought possible in their wildest dreams and enjoying the journey along the way.

Community Project

Winner: John McFadzean (Holmfirth Harriers)

For the last 20 years this club has been helping children to stay active and enjoy athletics during the school holidays.

Fun In Athletics is a three-day camp aiming to introduce children in the local area to our sport with the focus on having fun. Originally only run during the summer, demand has grown and the camps now run through the Christmas and Easter holidays with many children using this as a stepping stone to join Holmfirth Harriers.

Congratulations to all at Holmfirth Harriers and John McFadzean who supports the camps each holiday.

Runner up: Paul Wray (East Hull Harriers)

In January 2022, this club set up a new youth section for children aged 12-18.  The section has grown ever since and the club now delivers two training sessions each week led by qualified coaches.

One of the Assistant coaches has used their position as a Youth and Community Worker with Hull City Council to reach out to more young people who may have otherwise not had access to a running club.

This year has seen the young runners represent the club at competitions on both a local and national level, including at a brand-new winter league which saw them tackle some challenging courses. Not only has the club helped to give young people opportunities to participate, but it has also increased their self-esteem and confidence.  

Inspiring Official

Winner: Jean Jackson (Wakefield District Harriers & AC)

This official has given so much to the sport as a Level 4 official. She has not only been on her own officiating journey but has supported and encouraged new officials to follow in her footsteps. She always has a smile on her face and is happy to help anyone and answer their questions. She is highly dedicated to the world of athletics and is a real asset to all at Wakefield District Harriers & AC. Congratulation to our inspiring official, Jean Jackson.

On her officiating, Jean said:

"Like most I got into officiating as I was going to competitions with my children and told to join in. Everyone knows we are short on officials and it's important to share that you can start as a level 1 to help your club, and you don't need to progress just come and enjoy yourself."

Newcomer to Volunteering

Winner: Neil Dutton (Holmfirth Harriers)

This newcomer to volunteering started his coaching journey prior to the pandemic and has since qualified as an Athletics Coach, supporting a speed group at the club. This coach is committed, fair and reliable and never lets the athletes down – come rain or shine he will be at the club sessions. He has taken over organising the track and field section of the club, motivating young athletes and officials to take part in the various local leagues, consistently filling team sheets. Neil Dutton is enthusiastic, a good listener and always ensures that people feel valued and a part of the club family.

Reflecting on the last couple of years, Neil said:

"You don't mind being busy if it is something you enjoy doing. People get hung up on being the best but it's not about that, it's about getting more participants involved and enjoying training together as a squad."

Runner up: Jackie Johnson (Rawmarsh Runners)

This coach is knowledgeable and enthusiastic, encouraging people of all backgrounds and abilities to try running. She helps people to believe in themselves and often delivers the couch to 5k introductory sessions. This coach always puts others above herself and has been known to lead a running session before heading straight to complete a 12-hour night shift! Not only does she support the adults, Jackie Johnson fully immerses herself in helping all areas of the community, frequently volunteering at the local junior parkrun.  

Services to Athletics and Running

Winner: Andrew Godfrey (Bridlington Road Runners)

This person has been a member of Bridlington Road Runners both as an exceptional runner and as a committee member since 1984. For 24 years, he was the club treasurer and has developed the website and newsletter logging all member results each week, wherever in the world they are competing. He doesn’t stop there; he is hands-on in the delivery of the club activities, organising club handicap races, supporting as a timekeeper and volunteering at parkrun (over 250 times). Andrew Godfrey has given so much to the club over the years and always works quietly in the background ensuring everything runs smoothly. He is kind natured, helpful and always keen to share his vast knowledge of the sport way beyond Bridlington and the club.  

"I was never a good runner," explained Andrew. "I just enjoy being involved and was enthusiastic. As the years went by I didn't like to say no. I enjoy the club environments and I have made a lot of great friends."

Winner: Bill and Lesley Eldridge  

This inseparable duo have been involved in athletics for over 40 years. They started working on school partnerships across county and cross country events, organising the English Schools teams. Both fulltime officials across the field, timekeeping and starting teams, they are always prepared to travel around the country to help out at events of all levels. They have been the main architects in the restructuring of the Humber Open Track and Field League which has been of the utmost importance in the competition calendar since Covid. Bill and Lesley Eldridge’s contribution to athletics and running in the region has been outstanding and they always strive to make the sport better for everyone involved.  

Speaking on their love of the sport, Lesley said:

"It's our hobby and we've got the time to do it. When I started officiating I had to stop doing so much due to teaching. Once I retired I made more time for officiating and we also love to get involved in the organisation side of the sport in our region."

Winner: Steve Ingledew (Selby Striders)

This volunteer has been involved with Selby Striders for 30+ years. He has been a longstanding mentor and supporter to thousands of club members over the years. More recently, he has led couch to 5k groups through RunTogether, encouraging more people in the local community to enjoy running. The commitment and energy he brings to the club is infectious and he has dedicated a lot of his life to delivering our sport. A strong swimmer, cyclist and runner, Steve Ingledew has a positive influence on many people’s lives throughout Selby and beyond.  

Speaking about how he got into the sport, Steve said:

"I started out as a squash player, I broke my arm and couldn't play squash any more. A friend of mine ran and I thought I want to do that. As I got older and my times slower I wanted to give something back. I am passionate about health and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. If we run, bike and swim we can often lead longer and healthier lives."

Live streaming - watch again!

You can watch the evening online via youtube and we have set chapter markers so that you don't have to watch the whole event but just your favourite volunteer being awarded!

Go to Yorkshire and Humberside streaming watch again

Volunteer Awards evenings in other regions