Helen Reddy from Ivybridge Community College has been named as Devon Sports Coach of the Year and received The Outstanding Contribution Award at a recent awards ceremony. Known to many as a ‘super woman teacher’, she’s managed to create not just a forward thinking gymnastics academy, but also the most successful school gymnastics team in the UK.
If ever there was a superb example of how to get youngsters more involved in this exciting sport, this was it. Having built up and run the Ivybridge Gymnastics Academy at ICC, Helen has supervised a squad that has won more national titles than any other UK school in the past two years.
Devon gymnastics Are In Very Good Hands
To add to her teaching and Academy commitments, this incredibly hard working, high-performance coach also uses her expertise at nearby Honiton Gymnastics Club. As a former national gymnast of some repute, and now a level five British coach, she’s vastly experienced in the sport.
And now she’s using all the knowledge accrued across more than 30 years to help the next generation of gymnasts.
Helen has constructed a sustainable coaching structure enabling students to take their first steps as young gymnastic leaders. The innovative scheme has been endorsed by British Gymnastics, selecting Ivybridge Community College as one of only a handful of apprentice hubs in the UK.
Recognition Of Her Commitment
The Outstanding Contribution award was selected by judges from people short-listed in all categories. It recognises an individual or organisation that has gone above and beyond the call of duty to develop sport in the county.
Sandy Park, home of Exeter Chiefs rugby club, provided the venue for the ceremony, in the presence of the guest speaker and Olympic gold medal rower James Cracknell. The aim was to celebrate the best of community sport in Devon.
Helen said: “I honestly didn’t think I was in with a chance, so I was stunned when they read out my name. It’s a real honour to be welcomed to collect an award in front of so many of your peers, so when they announced the second award I was even more astounded.
A Gymnastics Academy 15 Years In The Making
Helen began her PE teaching career at ICC in 2002 and has held the role of Head of Year, Director of Sport and Head of Performing arts. She began building gymnastics at the school by focusing on starting young boys’ gymnastics. It was a case of slowly moving forward into other areas before the Academy took shape.
This amazing lady is responsible for the development of more than 300 students at primary and secondary level, and she even comes up with the ideas and directs the performing art show at the college, involving 500 pupils. She believes this link is important, as such mass participation can help identify those who have a real gymnastic talent.
The overall aim isn’t about finding an elite gymnast, but encouraging pupils of all abilities to at least attend one of the extra-curricular clubs for a short while. And to top it all, Helen also organises the UK’s biggest annual acrobatic development competition in Honiton every year.
Recent achievements have included coaching and choreographing routines for British champion teams at junior and senior levels. Helen added: “I’m surrounded by a team of dedicated coaches, helpers and supporters who make it possible for me to put successful procedures in place. I couldn’t do any of this without their continued support.”
The award organisers, as well as those around her, see this passionate coach as someone who really does make a difference to young people in terms of helping offer valuable life skills. And who knows, she could be bringing on the next star gymnast.
Liz Slater, leisure partnership manager at Plymouth City Council who nominated Helen for the awards, said: “In my 25 years of involvement in Devon sport rarely have I witnessed a teacher and coach who has such a high level of passion, enthusiasm and a will to make a difference to young people.”
The Devon Sports 20th Anniversary Awards were organised by Active Devon in Association with The Exeter Foundation and Exeter College.