Yesterday, November 9th, saw the England Athletics Volunteer Awards at the St Bride Foundation in Fleet Street, London.
We’re very proud to announce that two of our volunteers were recognised at this event for their outstanding contributions as volunteers to the club and England Athletics events.
Coach of the Year – Dave Wilkinson
The stand out qualities of this volunteer coach of 30-40 middle distance athletes is the holistic support he provides, his genuine care for the athlete’s whole life beyond running, and how he takes the time to build athlete-coach relationships. He embraces the commitment an athlete can put in, no matter what ability, to allow them to achieve their goals.
By attending conferences, reading books, listening to podcasts and conversing with different coaches and athletes, Dave learns about athlete issues (such as RED-S) to fully support his athletes. This has resulted in a passion for advocating for women’s sport – and has led to his exceptional athlete retention rate, particularly amongst young girls, who often leave the sport in their late teens.
His athletes helped Thames Valley Harriers win both the Southern and National league titles alongside road relay medals. However, he does not value this national level success over helping a new mum fight her way back to a PB (even if it means holding the baby while she does reps) or supporting an athlete through to complete recovery from an eating disorder or mental health struggles. His example inspires his athletes into giving back to the sport in turn through volunteering. Dave’s kindness and inclusivity is reflected by his own athletes, creating a supportive community within the group.
Dave Wilkinson is not just a coach for everyone. He is a coach for a lifetime.
Services to Athletics and Running – Barrie Saunders
Having joined TVH more than 70 years ago, competing as a middle distance and endurance athlete with much success before starting as an official in 1975, Barrie is the longest serving official in Middlesex County, qualified in both Field and Endurance as a Level 3. Although a track, road and cross country athlete, Barrie is best known as a Field Judge and embarked on his long career as an official after being asked to help on field events at a meeting he attended – and progressed rapidly from there.
He has been Middlesex County Athletics Association President and Subscriptions Secretary at TVH for over 20 years, he has helped many volunteers starting out and gaining experience as officials. He has been a constant presence at the club, advising and supporting athletes of all abilities. He is always approachable, takes a real interest in individuals and is willing to give advice to everyone.
Barrie Saunders has made a significant and longstanding contribution to athletics at Thames Valley Harriers and in Middlesex.
You can watch a recording of the awards ceremony below.