South East region RunTogether volunteer award winners announced

We’re over half way through this year’s England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards – rewarding the invaluable contribution of Athletics and Running volunteers across the country and, this year, placing a spotlight on the huge role they have played in helping to navigate our sport through the impacts of Covid-19.

Our England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards winners and runners-up for the South East are…

RunTogether Group of the Year – South East

Winner: WBRT – West Berkshire RunTogether

The West Berkshire RunTogether group - WBRT - has been active for nearly five years and aims to help introduce people to activity to help improve their lifestyle. Winner of the RunTogether Group of the Year award, the group has embraced the #RunAndTalk programme, setting up a session to promote mental health and wellbeing and in so doing has positively turned many lives around. Sessions are run over evenings and weekends and time is given to make each session special, so that each runner always goes home with a smile on their face. The group’s oldest runners are in their mid-70s and are a true inspiration to many younger runners: the conversation on the runs becomes a means of support with runners of all ages which helps everyone in a truly special way. Lockdown introduced new ways for the runners to keep connected and motivated such as completing challenges, which helped keep the RunTogether ethos alive. The leaders use their existing runners as 'buddies' on runs and all new runners are welcomed and well looked after. Many of the runners have formed firm friendship groups and some have brought friends and family to see for themselves the friendly support provided.

Runner-up: Crawley Run Crew

Run Leader of the Year – South East

Winner: Mark Mathias (Waterside Runners)

The Run Leader of the Year award for the South East goes to Mark Mathias of Waterside Runners. Mark motivates, supports and encourages the group and adapts his approach to make sure all abilities are supported. Described as down to earth, incredibly supportive of the group, especially new runners, and generous with his praise, Mark is a dedicated and committed Run Leader who helps everyone enjoy running. Running with others provides motivation, guidance and support, as well as being more enjoyable so the inclusive, friends and fun sessions which Mark leads certainly tick those boxes. With new runners he is particularly supportive and runs with them to make their introduction to running with Waterside Runners as positive an experience as possible. He is liked by everyone and is very much missed if he’s not able to attend a session for whatever reason. Mark never fails to show the group how proud he is of them and gently pushes them to achieve their goals whatever their ability. He recognises different strengths and weaknesses and targets the activities in his groups to accommodate this, never discounting anybody. Mark allows the faster runners to lead groups while he supports the slower members.

Runner-up: Sandi Starling (Hamstreet Runners)