North West region RunTogether volunteer award winners announced

We’re down to the penultimate awards night in this year’s England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards – celebrating the outstanding work of Athletics and Running volunteers across the country and, for 2020, shining a light on their vital contribution in helping navigate our sport through the impacts of Covid-19.

The eighth of our regional awards nights saw us pay a virtual visit to the North West region. Broadcast live online, it was a fantastic chance to highlight the unbelievable commitment, passion and leadership shown by volunteers throughout the North West region who have made such a difference to Athletics and Running in what has been a unique and challenging year.

RunTogether Group of the Year – North West

Winner: Lions Running Community

The winner of the RunTogether Group of the Year award for the North West is the Lions Running Community. The group is supportive, accessible and diverse and sees itself as sitting at the heart of the community, providing the benefits of running and wider social inclusion. They support the ethos of removing barriers to access running and provide a variety of inclusive sessions, which enable people to train together. Members receive personal coaching plans enabling the leaders and coaches to support and monitor performance in order to tailor the support they provide. The friendly environment within the group shines through in its buddy system for new members, the caring support for members with their mental wellbeing and its social activities. As a group, they support children through funetics, who may struggle to access sport for a variety of reasons, giving them an opportunity to enjoy athletics and running in a safe environment. The club’s army of volunteers are trained as leaders, coaches, mental health champions, guide runners, fitness instructors and nutritional advisors allowing them to provide motivational sessions, guidance and encouragement for all members. The Lions also support a local children’s hospice and has raised funds for a community defibrillator.

Runner-up: Ossy Joggers

Run Leader of the Year – North West

Winner: Sarah Pickerill (Southport Strollers)

Less than two years ago, Sarah Pickerill of Southport Strollers spotted a gap locally for a social running club for all abilities, from complete beginners to established marathoners, and founded her own group. The winner of the Run Leader of the Year award for the North West, her bright personality, complete openness and approachability means that runners flock to join the weekly sessions with over 50 attendees some weeks. Sarah cultivates strong relationships with all members, getting to know them personally, understanding their goals and encouraging them to achieve them, sacrificing her runs and training to help them on theirs. She brings new members to the club and ensures they are the right fit for the group’s inclusive, supportive and friendly ethos. Sarah has been the driving force behind the club becoming England Athletics affiliated, formalising its place in the running community. Sarah is insistent that, regardless of pace or distance run, all runners warm up and cool down together, which creates a community of runners who chat together and get to know one another. She personally selected the first few Run Leaders from within the club, encouraging them to complete the LiRF course, making sure they understand their role.

Runner-up: Pete Williams (Oldham & Royton Harriers & AC)