Unsung Heroes recognised at 2013 British Rowing Awards

On Saturday (November 16th), volunteers from British Rowing’s regions gathered in central London for a celebration of our sport’s unsung heroes: the 2013 Volunteer and Coach of the Year Awards.

Held at the Watermen’s Hall, the prestigious awards luncheon saw 17 volunteers recognised for their extraordinary dedication to rowing, together with six coaches and coaching teams from across the country who have made a difference in club, university and elite rowing this year.

“We are a sport that is blessed with wonderful people and great ambassadors,” said British Rowing Chairman Annamarie Phelps. “In every club and at every level, there are people who get new and established rowers, young and old, on the water day in and day out, from one end of the country to another, just to be able to share their passion for rowing. We simply couldn’t run a sport like this if we were all Olympic gold medallists, so it’s important that we recognise and thank the ‘sport-makers’ throughout our clubs and regions.”

Among this year’s award-winners were Milton Keynes Rowing Club duo Louise Rivett and Karen Wilson, who won the overall and open category awards respectively, for the Eastern Region. Louise was recognised for her remarkable efforts in organising the club’s record-breaking cross-channel row – the effects of which were felt throughout the club. “I still cannot believe the positive impact the channel row has had on the whole club,” read the MKRC stalwart’s award citation. “Lou’s belief that the club could achieve great things is now shared by all.”

Also recognised at the awards luncheon was Michael Allwood, who was named the Overall Winner for the North West Region. As well as coaching, organising events and towing trailers for Grosvenor RC, Michael has also helped to introduce para-rowing at the club.

Other award-winners at the 2013 British Rowing Awards included Amy Bland (City of Cambridge RC, Eastern Region U18 Winner), Stuart Ward (Loughborough BC, East Midlands Region Overall Winner), Peter Moore (Thames Valley Park RC, Thames Region Overall Winner), Julie Watson (Auriol Kensington RC, Thames Region Event Category Winner), Mike Linehan (Reading RC, Thames Region Open Category Winner) Neil Jackson (Auriol Kensington RC, Thames Region Safety Category Winner), Gary Joyce (Wessex & South East Coast Region Overall Winner), Ian Payne (WAGS Region Overall Winner), Geraldine and Martin Jones (Gloucester RC, WAGS Region Administrative Category Winners), Andy Wallis (Minerva Bath RC, WAGS Region Safety Category Winner), Brian Snelson (York City RC, Yorkshire Region Overall Winner), Rosie McLaren (Leeds University RC, Yorkshire Region Higher Education Category Winner), and Richard Noble (York City RC, Yorkshire Region Open Category Winner).

Guest speaker Greg Nugent, a non-executive Director of the British Paralympic Association and former Director of Brand, Marketing and Culture for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, praised the efforts of all the winning volunteers, saying: “You are a group of people who change the world every day with what you do. You make the sport happen in our clubs up and down the country. You don’t need money, though from some of your citations you probably do appreciate cake!”

Following the Volunteer Awards came the 2013 Coach of the Year Awards – a celebration of the incredible work being done by rowing coaches up and down the country, for all ages and abilities.

Introducing the awards, Chairman of the National Coaching Committee, Kate O’Sullivan, hailed the “dedicated” and “professional” winners, as well as the “enormous support” they provide to both their clubs and their rowers.

This year’s recipients included Janet Wilkinson (Tees RC, Club Development Winner), Ian John (Hollingworth Lake RC, Club Performance Winner), Angelo Savarino (Newcastle University BC, GB Rowing Team Special Award Winner) and Al Slinn, Chris Hudson and John Pearson (Grosvenor RC, Coaching Team Winners). Jerry Copping (Exeter RC) and Jonathan Longridge (Thames RC) were both highly commended by the judging panel.

The presentations were rounded off by Dr Chris George, Hon Rowing Safety Adviser, who announced the winner of the National Safety Award, Dr Neil Jackson of Auriol Kensington Rowing Club.

“The Awards Lunch was an inspiring celebration of the unsung workers of sport,” Phelps added. “Greg’s talk about the value of those willing to ‘put out the cones everyday’ to just help make it happen was spot on.”

For more information about each of this year’s British Rowing Award winners, please see the Winners’ Citations.

For photographs by Simon Way please contact pippa.randolph@britishrowing.org