Regional Volunteer Awards winners and runners-up for Yorkshire and Humber

We’re six awards nights down, three to go for this year’s England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards – celebrating the first class contribution of Athletics and Running volunteers across the country and, for 2020, rewarding volunteers for their vital input in helping navigate our sport through the impacts of Covid-19.

The seventh of our regional awards nights sees us take a virtual visit to the Yorkshire & Humber region. Broadcast live online, it was a wonderful opportunity to highlight the huge amount of effort, hard work and dedication shown by volunteers throughout the Yorkshire & Humber region who have positively impacted Athletics and Running in such a unique and challenging year.

Our England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards winners and runners-up for Yorkshire & Humber are…

Athletics and Running @home Award – Yorkshire and Humber

Winner: St. Theresa’s AC

The winner of the Athletics & Running @Home award for Yorkshire & Humber is St. Theresa’s AC. A friendly and supportive club based in East Leeds, the committee organised challenges for runners as soon as restrictions were in place, which had of course stopped their usual activities. The committee set up two challenges a week which included Strava Art, segment races, invent a parkrun, a postbox challenge, STAC bingo and a mammoth ‘take the base’ team challenge with 75 bases across the club’s area. In addition the club created ‘STAC rocks’ which wasn’t anything to do with music but consisted of a couple of rocks painted in STAC colours which were circulated from one member to another, often with an amusing journey and other gifts. The team at St. Theresa’s AC also came up with an innovative ‘pass the trainer video’. Due to all these activities, the club’s social media channel has been busier than it’s ever been with runners engaging in the activities. As a result of some retweets by England Athletics, other clubs got in touch asking if they could use the challenges so they helped even more people across the country.

Runner-up: Fitmums & Friends
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Club of the Year – Yorkshire & Humber

Winner: City of Sheffield & Dearne AC

City of Sheffield & Dearne AC is the winner of the Club of the Year award for the Yorkshire & Humber region. The club allows members to grow as people and athletes and is known as an inclusive club where everyone is equal and respect is given for hard work and training. This respect carries over into the high regard shown not only to the athletes themselves but to other athletes, coaches, officials, the facilities use, the vest members wear, but also in the way the club is administered. Communication is an important part of how the club maintains respect with queries being answered in full and positively so athletes are not put off asking questions to any point of contact. The club media is very straightforward and there is always an available point of contact. New members at the club often comment on the quality of the coaches, the facilities and the pride shown by those who represent the club in competitions. The coaches encourage the members to take notes and keep a training diary to help cement the structured and nurturing training programmes, which help everyone develop at their own pace to suit their own targets.

Runner-up: Fitmums & Friends
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Coach of the Year – Yorkshire & Humber

Winner: Paul Wilson (City of York AC)

Paul Wilson of City of York AC is the winner of the Coach of the Year award for Yorkshire & Humber. He goes above and beyond as a coach and has also raised thousands of pounds during lockdown, organising a virtual shot put competition with competitors from all over the world! Paul has a very large group of athletes for all disciplines and he manages to make sure that everyone is well taken care of, given essential feedback and is happy with their training. Paul is always ready to give advice and share his experiences with other coaches and is always open to learning and listening to others on how his own athletes can improve. He finds a way to ensure that everyone continues to love our sport and creates an amazing and productive environment to train in. Most importantly, he cares deeply about each and every athlete encouraging them with face to face coaching when possible, but also calling or texting between sessions. Paul sets individual plans for each athlete that are tailored to their discipline, their age, their experience and their time to complete the training as well as providing support in different ways for his athletes.

Runner-up: Trevor Fox (City of Sheffield & Dearne AC)
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Run Leader of the Year – Yorkshire & Humber

Winner: Natalie Sampson (Tingley RunFIT)

The winner of the Run Leader of the Year award for Yorkshire & Humber is Natalie Sampson of Tingley RunFIT. As well as planning interesting and varied sessions, Natalie is great at coordinating the activities of the entire group. During lockdown, she was very active on social media to try and keep the group’s runners motivated with weekly challenges, route suggestions and other useful information to help everyone. As a result, runners who had not run with the group for a while engaged with the #VirtualTRF challenge and then came to the smaller sessions, which were organised when lockdown was eased (with Natalie sometimes running sessions one after the other to ensure that everyone was able to run in a group). She also produced plans for a number of the runners to help them achieve their goals, be that a 5k or 10K and even a half marathon. She actively checks in on runners’ progress and will also run with them to support. Natalie is also now studying for her coaching qualification to support the group even further as well as doing the administration for the group and helping other leaders by sharing ideas and leading sessions as needed.

Runner-up: Sharon Shillito (Tingley RunFIT)
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RunTogether Group of the Year – Yorkshire & Humber

Winner: Team Caterpillar

Team Caterpillar is a true RunTogether group because equal emphasis is placed on being together and on the running. Winner of the RunTogether Group of the Year award for Yorkshire & Humber, the group fosters a supportive atmosphere that transcends running and spills over into the everyday lives of its members. At Team Caterpillar there is always someone there to listen, advise, console or celebrate, which gives its members the confidence to chase running goals they may otherwise never have dreamed possible. The group has members who are starting out on their Couch to 5k journey right through to members preparing for marathons and every member and their goals are valued equally. All group runs operate a loop back system where faster runners turn and run to the back of the pack so no one is ever left behind. Even though everyone has their own individual goals set for a run or event, everyone is there for one another by motivating, cheering and being positive towards one another. It’s a fun group which accepts any challenge with enthusiasm. It’s renowned as a special group of people who make everyone feel welcome and helps teach people to have self-belief.

Runner-up: Tingley RunFIT
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Services to Athletics or Running – Yorkshire & Humber

Winner (joint): Anne Roberts and David Roberts (Cleethorpes AC)

For Yorkshire & Humber, the Services to Athletics award goes to a couple for their 50 years of service to their club and county: David and Anne Roberts of Cleethorpes AC. Described as inspirational, the Roberts are known and loved by grassroots athletes, coaches, officials, parents & clubs throughout Humber, Yorkshire & Lincolnshire. Anne has taken on many roles in our amazing sport and her huge contribution to athletics is as an announcer. She is renowned for her clear, concise instructions: poor track etiquette is spotted and further guidance follows! Anne also encourages less experienced announcers with her advice and instructions. Their commitment to schools athletics is also legendary for their dedicated volunteering for district and county meetings as well as at schools trials and championships. Dave is a very experienced Level 3 starter who is respected for his willingness to pass on helpful guidance which is appreciated by all who work alongside him. At club level he encourages young athletes to become officials and/or administrators as well as encouraging parents to get involved in club events. The interest and encouragement shown by the Roberts towards young athletes makes them proud to be part of the athletics family.

Runner-up: Pat Sheldon (Hallamshire Harriers)
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Volunteer of the Year – Yorkshire & Humber

Winner: Glen Hilton (Allerton Junior AC)

Congratulations to Glen Hilton of Allerton Junior AC who is the winner of the Volunteer of the Year award for the Yorkshire & Humber region. Having founded the club in a town with no athletics provision or facility, and no one with an athletics coaching background, Glen understood the need for more helpers in all areas if the club was to develop. He has produced coaches and helpers but is still the driving force in the club. His main goal is for athletes to have fun and stay healthy in mind as well as body. He reminds everybody of the benefits of an active lifestyle for maintaining good mental health: he truly cares about the young athletes’ all round development. Glen is the lead coach, organises the club’s coaching and recruitment and development of new coaches and he is very vigilant to avoid over-training, or to place pressure on the athletes. Glen is very mindful and involved in facilities, equipment and the relationship with the wider sport. He also organises the club’s coaching and competition programmes and supports the organisers of events that the club attends. He actively encourages everyone to get involved in the club, advising on different coaching, officiating and administrative courses.

Runner-up: Andy Haslam (Northowram Pumas RC)
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Young Volunteer of the Year – Yorkshire & Humber

Winner: Rachel Ayrton (City of York AC)

The winner of the Young Volunteer of the Year award for the Yorkshire & Humber region is student Rachel Ayrton of City of York AC. As well as her coaching and athletics ability, she is respected as a great role model for young children, which is really important when they are at such an impressionable age. Well organised and committed, Rachel is known for the technical excellence of her coaching as well as for her enthusiasm. She has an excellent rapport with the group because she encourages everyone, whatever their standard, and helps them work together. Rachel makes sure the young athletes have fun and enjoy their running as well as being good at bringing in pertinent points to advance their personal development and athletics knowledge. She is very good with the young helpers who started as part of their Duke of Edinburgh volunteering activity and have stayed as helpers. Rachel is also a main organiser of athletics at her university as track captain and secretary.

Runner-up: Emily Smith (Fitmums and Friends)

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