East region RunTogether volunteer award winners announced

Tonight’s England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards for the East brings the curtain down on this year’s regional awards nights – celebrating the amazing contribution of Athletics and Running volunteers across the country and, for 2020, showcasing their vital contribution in helping navigate our sport through the impacts of Covid-19.

The ninth and last of our regional awards nights saw us make a virtual visit to the East region. Broadcast live online, it was a great opportunity to draw attention to the remarkable commitment, drive and sheer hard work shown by volunteers throughout the East region who have made such an impact on Athletics and Running in what has been a unique and challenging year.

RunTogether Group of the Year – East

Winner: HLB Runners

HLB Runners, the winner of the RunTogether Group of the Year award, is a fabulous, supportive group with people from all walks of life joining together to run every week. Everyone is welcome, whether they run a 5min/km or 10min/km, they will not be left behind. The members are all pros at ‘looping’ to allow for every pace maintaining the group’s ethos that nobody runs alone. During injury there is always someone who is happy to walk and chat too. From this group everyone has made new friends within the small community of Maulden, Bedfordshire, so the sessions become both a social occasion and an opportunity to run. The Run Leader is an interpreter, as a proportion of the group are deaf or hard of hearing, to ensure nobody is left out. During lockdown the social virtual events were held via video calls to enable sign language, as well as social media posts to facilitate all language strengths. During lockdown the ‘virtual pub nights’ proved invaluable, especially for those more isolated in the community. The group has chosen six charities to support by fundraising with virtual bingo nights and run challenges as their small way to help charities during this incredibly difficult year.

Runner-up: Flyers Southend

Run Leader of the Year – East

Winner: Samantha Holmes (The RunFit Club)

Samantha Holmes of The Run Fit Club is the winner of the Run Leader of the Year award for the East. She encourages everyone with her big smile and positive approach. A non-competitive running and walking group based in Basildon Essex, Sam invites everyone to join in with the club’s virtual runs and she also encourages people to become run leaders. Sam has put all different levels of groups together from walking, couch to 5k, walk/run and also longer runs for more experienced runners. She encourages everyone to improve at their own pace no matter how fast, slow or what fitness level they have at the moment: no one is left behind. Like all the supportive Run Leaders, Sam is England Athletics trained, holds a current DBS check and is trained in safeguarding and first aid. No one feels worried that they won’t be able to keep up and everyone is supported to reach their personal goals. The mental health support at the club deserves special mention too as there is always a friendly ear on offer to talk things through on a run as everyone is encouraged to view running as helping to improve mental as well as physical health.

Runner-up: Keith Passingham (Flyers Southend)