The England Athletics regional volunteer awards evenings are held to recognise and celebrate the work of our volunteers, without whom the sport could not function. Volunteers were nominated by their peers and the England Athletics regional councils then made the decisions of who would win. Winners were put forward to the National awards which are presented at our annual Hall of Fame gala evening. Click here to find out more about our Hall of Fame.
The London Volunteer Award winners were announced on 11th October but we can now report on their presentation evening. The event was held on Wednesday 15th November at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health in central London. Special thanks go out to Donna Fraser, Ernest Simons and David Gorgeous for allowing us to show a selection of photographs from the COACH exhibition (for Black History Month) during the evening. The event was led by Peter Crawshaw, Regional Council Chair for London, with a selection of individuals helping to present awards. Most notably, this included Janet Smith who presented a second trophy to the Club of the Year, in honour of her brother, the late Bob Smith.
The London Volunteer Award winners are:
· Club of the Year: Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC
· Coach of the Year: David Johnson of Harrow AC
· Official of the Year: Carol Munns of Croydon Harriers
· RunTogether Leader / Group of the Year: Amanda Ray Epe from Fly Girls Running Community
· Volunteer of the Year: John Mackay from Orpington Road Runners
· Young Volunteer (14-25) of the Year: Thomas Finch of Woodford Green AC with Essex Ladies
· Innovation Project of the Year: David Walton of London Heathside
· Services to Athletics: Bryan Smith of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers
Their award nominations are reproduced below.
Club of the Year – Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC
Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC, based in South London, is one of the UK’s oldest clubs and thrives today, with over 800 members and full charity status. It has a strong governance structure, underpinned by relevant policies. The club is perhaps best known for its senior athletes’ recent successes, including the selections for the IAAF World Championships in London of Adam Gemili and Dina Asher-Smith, both of whom had already competed with distinction at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Success at the elite level is based upon excellence in the younger age groups. B&B teams finished in first place in both the lower and upper age groups in the YDL Southern Premier Division 2017, and in the Kent Young Athletes League. The club fielded teams at the Anniversary Games Club Connect Relays, with the U13 Girls winning their event in a new club record. In September 2016, the Junior Girls team took second place at the European Junior Clubs Cup Final. B&B’s young athletes have also excelled individually in 2017 with gold medallists at the European U20 Championships and the Commonwealth Youth Games, the latter winner having had the honour of being selected as Team England’s opening ceremony flag bearer.
This competitive success is supported by a dedicated group of coaches and volunteers, one of whom was honoured at the 2017 Torch Trust Trophy awards. This is supported by a Parents Council. The youth club exists for athletes aged 11+ and the Bees Academy for Years 4-7 acts as a feeder.
Coach of the Year – David Johnson of Harrow AC
The nominator writes, "Eighteen months ago, my daughter (an athlete since eight, who has completed the AASE course) found herself at a university that promised her that they had an athletics programme and could provide coaching, when in reality, no such provision existed. As a result, she became dispondant and desperately unhappy as an athlete as well as depressed as a person. I met David Johnson at the London Indoors Champs and started to chat with him. Realising that he was based in West London, I asked if he would coach my daughter in jumps. He readily agreed and has since become my daughter’s rock as a coach, travelling around the country to support her in competitions at all levels from county competitions to Nationals / BUCS. Since my daughter has moved to Loughborough University, he has worked with her University Coach Femi to provide the best programme for her. He has never asked for a penny in fees or travel costs to any of these events (only accepting payment in cups of tea and Kit Kats) and genuinely coaches in and for the best interests of the athletes that he coaches. He is not only interested in the young people that he works with as athletes but is also genuinely interested in their health and well-being and never been a glory hunter like many coaches that I have encountered over the years. He is also an AASE mentor and generally dedicates his life to athletics. He has been my daughter’s saving grace."
Official of the Year – Carol Munns of Croydon Harriers
As well as being a virtually nonstop active home and away field official during the summer and funnel official during the winter, Carol has successfully taken on the mantle of her club’s officials' secretary. She has already recruited two more officials, one of whom is an enthusiastic Hindu lady who has also qualified as a coach, and she organised an officials' recruitment social. She is a very special lady who has stayed with and officiated for the club for some twenty years after her schoolgirl daughter ceased to be one of my athletes. Thanks to Carol, Croydon Harriers has not failed.
RunTogether Group or Leader of the Year – Amanda Ray Epe from Fly Girls Running Community
The Fly Girls Running Community aims to help and target three groups: 1) Inactive middle age and older women, 2) BME women and girls and 3) reduce the high child obesity in the borough of Brent.
These groups have chosen to improve physical and mental wellbeing for participants and the run leader does a lot of outreach to engage the local community to participate, i.e. organising wellbeing talks on fitness, nutrition and mental health with health professionals invited to speak. Amanda has volunteered to deliver these sessions over the last four seasons and does so as a volunteer, and during the week she encourages team members through group talks on Whatsapp and occasional meets where possible. The nominator says, "Our group can boast that we have encouraged people who have not run in their entire life to get started and members have entered running events and the Colour Run."
Volunteer of the Year – John Mackay from Orpington Road Runners
John helps with so many things and is someone you can always turn to for help and advice. He is a RunLeader for the club, and knows a lot of great routes and is always encouraging. He organises and runs beginner courses. He is an event’s organiser (High Elms 10k, mob matches and the club’s own winter handicap run) and team leader for baggage teams at the London Marathon and prudential ride 100. He is a friend of High Elms county park and a committee member for the club.
Young Volunteer of the Year – Thomas Finch of Woodford Green AC with Essex Ladies
Thomas Finch is an active member of Woodford Green AC with Essex Ladies and currently represents the club at U20 level. Thomas is also a qualified Field Official at Level 1 but is working towards his Level 2. While he competes at league matches for Woodford he always volunteers to assist the club with its officiating allocation to ensure the club receives its points for providing the relevant number of officials. Recently Thomas took it upon himself to volunteer and assist the club coaches with the training of the younger athletes aged 11-15 years old, whether it is on track or at field events such as discus or long jump.
Thomas was originally asked to be a part of the Track 500 team for both the Para World and IAAF World Championships but then decided to also volunteer to assist the technical teams for both championships. He willingly gave up 10 days for each event prior to his rostered shifts to assist the Technical Team in setting up for both championships. He also offers his help and assistance to his colleagues as and when required.
Thomas has shown that he is willing far above and beyond what is expected of him, volunteers his help willingly and is always both polite and courteous to everyone.
Innovation Project of the Year – David Walton of London Heathside and Finsbury Park Sports Partnership
Dave has been the key person in raising more than £1.1m in grants and donations for the refurbishment of Finsbury Park Track London N4. This track was scheduled for closure by Haringey council and has been saved by the formation of Finsbury Park Sports Partnership who took over the management of the entire facility on a voluntary basis. Dave is a board member of FPSP. Dave took on the job of raising the necessary grants needed to refurbish the track. Raising £700k was a key target in obtaining a 25-year lease from the council thus allowing this inner-city track to remain open. Contributions have been obtained from London Marathon, Sport England, The Majors Fund and EA. Work is underway and a new track will be open in late summer 2016.
Services to Athletics – Bryan Smith of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers
Bryan joined SBH in 1954 as an active athlete and became involved in club administration when he took on the role of Secretary in the years 1963-67, 74-75 and 87-88. He was Club President from 71-74, and 87-88 and is now a life member. Since 1963, he has fulfilled the roles of Ladies' Team Manager, Welfare Officer, Subscriptions Secretary and Track & Field Judge at Club fixtures. He was involved in the organisation of Athletics in Middlesex, Southern Counties and National Levels for both Schools and Clubs. He organised the National Ladies 10-mile Road Races for many years including the Avon Series. He was director of the London Marathon being involved in organising the annual mini-marathon, together with other various London Marathon events. He acted as Race referee for many Regional and National events.
He started up and organised the Greater London/ Southern Women’s cross-country league for many years. Bryan was on SEAA General committee during the BAF years (1991- ~2005). He was a director at the formation of UKA in June 1998 (on a board of seven people at the time) – his responsibility was Endurance Competition. He also served on the AAA general committee and chair of the road running committee. Bryan has coached many club and international athletes including his wife Joyce, the two times London Marathon winner; he is a Level 4 Endurance Coach and is still coaching to this present day.
Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and the wider Athletic Community are indebted for his many years of valuable service.