Last chance to nominate a volunteer at your rowing club!

Nominations for the 2020 Volunteer of the Year Awards close this Sunday – Martha Nutkins at Derby Rowing Club tells us why it’s great to be acknowledged


Martha and Tom pictured at Derby Rowing Club (c) Drew Smith

Last year Martha Nutkins was British Rowing’s overall Volunteer of the Year Award winner, together with fellow Derby Rowing Club member Tom Hallett.

Martha says: “It felt amazing to be recognised by both Derby Rowing Club and British Rowing.


“As with all of the volunteers at Derby, we don’t volunteer for recognition, but to be able to represent nationally was great and a proud moment for myself and for the club. It was great to showcase what we are doing at Derby, and to meet other volunteers at the awards ceremony to share ideas and success stories.”

Nominating a deserving volunteer is “a fantastic opportunity to give back to those who give so much to rowing and to their clubs”, Martha adds.

Martha and Tom have helped transform Derby by growing and diversifying its membership and the club has blossomed into a dynamic and welcoming rowing centre for the whole community with the men’s squad doubling in size and the women’s section expanding over the last year.

In the past, the club has found it hard to retain new rowers from learn-to-row courses, but thanks to Martha and Tom and many other willing volunteers and coaches, this has all changed.

Nominating a volunteer is a fantastic opportunity to give back to those who give so much to rowing and to their clubs

Last April, Rowing & Regatta talked to Martha and Tom about how they have rejuvenated their rowing club.

After running back-to-back learn-to-row courses from spring to September, 68 people had a chance to try out the sport. The retention rate was an impressive 82% and these new members have since revitalised the club with fresh ideas, friendly faces and a really positive approach to the sport.

Nominate a volunteer!

Why not acknowledge the efforts of someone at your rowing club? Find out more here. Be quick - entries close on Sunday 16 February!

“Derby RC is like a different place, the clubhouse is booming and the atmosphere is amazing,” says Martha.

So what was the secret?

“Friendship and a lot of laughter,” she says. “Our learn-to-row sessions were fun, and a fantastic bond was formed between all of the members (new and old). I met some of my best friends last summer and it really became a big family.”

It was great to showcase what we are doing at Derby, and to meet other volunteers at the awards ceremony

Tom adds: “Each course would start together and progress together, and you’d see them gradually start to help each other. We did things like a ‘graduation ceremony’ at the end including scratch races in eights and a BBQ which gave a real sense of achievement and welcoming into the club.”

But the key lesson he says is to have a clear route of progression for all the new rowers, regardless of ambition, age or ability.

Their efforts to share their love of rowing to prospective members has also had unexpected outcomes.

“I was surprised with how much it made me reconnect with the sport,” says Tom.

“Personally, I’d forgotten how incredibly exciting it can be, particularly in the early days when it’s the small things that mean the world. Things like moving up from Macons blades for the first time or coming off floats for the first time.”

Find out how to nominate a volunteer at your rowing club here and buy tickets for this year’s British Rowing Awards.


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