South West region RunTogether volunteer award winners announced

We’re two thirds of the way through this year’s England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards – celebrating the remarkable contribution of Athletics and Running volunteers across the country and, this year, thanking volunteers for the massive role they have played in helping to navigate our sport through the impacts of Covid-19.

The sixth of our regional awards nights saw us pay a virtual visit to the South West region. Our England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards winners and runners-up for the South West are…

RunTogether Group of the Year – South West

Winner: Verwood Runners

Verwood Runners is a very inclusive RunTogether group with a very wide range of abilities. The winner of this year's South West RunTogether Group of the Year award, Verwood Runners are always so supportive of everyone - encouraging every achievement no matter how small. RunTogether was created by England Athletics to provide fun, friendly and inclusive running opportunities for everyone and Verwood Runners are a great example of this philosophy. The core team work hard to provide group routes that challenge all levels. The Run Leaders also organise social events as well as socialising after runs, so they’re not just a group that runs together. The support provided by the group has been so important to its members in this very unusual year with encouragement being given through social media and Strava: there have also been weekly challenges to help keep everyone motivated, online skills sessions and social activities. Running with others in groups or virtually can provide inspiration and encouragement in the best of times as well as the more challenging: the ethos is that it doesn't matter what run a member has done (even if they've only been able to walk with the dog), the important thing is to keep active.

Runner-up: Lady Runners of Cheltenham

Run Leader of the Year – South West

Winner: Jay Sims-Bagshaw (Avon Valley Runners)

Winner of the Run Leader of the Year award for the South West, Jay Sims-Bagshaw of Avon Valley Runners, is a key part of the leadership team for the club: not only is she the safeguarding lead and one of the lead coaches, but she is one of the hardest working volunteers at the club. She proactively and regularly takes a lead and is a great multi-tasker. Jay offers encouragement and support to members via different media. She is quick to respond to any queries raised and does her utmost to ensure that a full evidenced answer is given. Jay has a fun, approachable persona which is a great asset as a mentor and leader. She is able to assess where an athlete needs to improve and strengthen and knows that the same thing doesn’t work for everyone so adapts her methodology. Her proactive approach enables her to think of the bigger picture in terms of the club and how the members will feel if something takes place. She has been a key lead through the pandemic, setting up the Zoom sessions to offer assistance and help to members. Jay’s infectious enthusiasm is a joy to be around.

Runner-up: Ian Matchett (Weston Whippets)