The Queens’ Birthday Honours list was published recently and a number of volunteers within our sport were awarded British Empire Medals (BEM)
- Jill Wright: for voluntary service to Athletics in Berkshire.
- Kate Macpherson: for voluntary service to Women’s Running in County Durham.
- John Hillier: for voluntary service to Athletics.
- John Pownceby: for services to School Athletics in Cumbria.
Kate was runner up in our 2018 North East region volunteer award: Run Leader of the Year. She completed her Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) seven years ago, and then Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) in an athletics club but set up Durham Mums on the Run nearly 5 years ago. She works for County Durham Sport and mentors new run leaders as they begin their Couch to 5k groups. She said, “I’m lucky to have the most amazing team of leaders who take different pace groups on our Thursday runs, they are great at coming up with creative routes and sessions and are just a fab group of women! I wouldn’t have this medal without them because the community wouldn’t flourish without their hard work.” Click here to read more on our RunTogether website.
Jill has worn many Athletics hats. She’s been a Technical Official for over 40 years, and has officiated at many high level events, including the London Olympics as well as being instrumental in the support and development of newly qualified officials. She was the Berkshire COunty Officials’ Secretary (COfSec) for many years.She’s been involved in schools athletics since 1961, originally through her job as a PE teacher, but she took early retirement to concentrate on team management for various schools and non schools teams. She served as President of the Berkshire Schools’ Athletics Association and the Berkshire County Athletics Association, and helped for developing provision for track and field sports in Reading, Newbury and Bracknell. She told us, “I am overjoyed with the recognition. Volunteering is hugely rewarding and I have had a lot of pleasure out of all my years in Athletics. What is particularly nice is that the nomination came through a coach at Bracknell Athletic Club whom I have known since he was a schoolboy athlete.”
John Hillier is a throws coach, specialising in Hammer where he is a Level 4 performance coach based at Sutcliffe Park, the home of Cambridge Harriers. He is held in high regard by his peers and currently coaches a number of successful athletes including top ranked U17 shot putter Nana Gyedu, U23 discus and shot champion Divine Oladipo, 2018 ESAA discus silver medallist Alfie Scopes, Commonwealth Games athlete Shaunagh Brown, and Lawrence Okoye, who made the London 2012 Olympic Games discus final.
John Pownceby is a valuable link between school and club for athletics in South Cumbria. He identifies what needs doing and gets on with it, recruiting help and expertise along the way. He works tirelessly as a volunteer since his retirement, and does an excellent, professional job. John was instrumental in engaging local schools and the Cumbria Schools Athletics Association (which he took charge of on the unexpected death of his predecessor), with the Network of clubs he had helped to set up in the 1990s and for which he finally received funding. It enabled the Network to offer a variety of coaches’ and officials’ education opportunities, thus giving local students an opportunity to add to their skills, whilst also helping club development. In 2014 an opportunity arose for developing a cross country league for primary schools. Liaising with the organisers of a similar model in Leicestershire, John set up a similar opportunity in South Cumbria, sponsored by a national company, and in 2015 took a team to the newly formed national event at Loughborough. Cumbria now has local ongoing inter-primary school events which have built up a strong relationship between teachers themselves and between schools and local clubs.
Two people who work within the sport were awarded Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Major Events Director at British Athletics Cherry Alexander, MBE gets an OBE for services to Elite Sport. Former Sprint Hurdler Nigel Walker who is now the National Director at the English Institute of Sport and received an OBE for services to Elite Sport.
Do YOU know someone who deserves recognition for their work within our sport?
You could nominate them for the England Athletics Volunteer Awards, They might not meet the Queen but national finalists are all invited to our Gala Hall of Fame evening in the Autumn to rub shoulders with Greats of the sport – past, present and future, and many like-minded volunteers and supporters.