There’s a single word used to describe the dedicated and hardworking gymnastics volunteers up and down the nation – ‘priceless’ – because that’s exactly what they are. And in truth, clubs large and small just couldn’t manage without them. They are, of course, ‘unsung heroes’ for their amazing contribution to the grassroots of the sport in their local communities.
Similar to our own Gymnastics Club Administrator of the Year Award, British Gymnastics have been great supporters in recognising the input and sheer inspirational qualities of those willing to give up their free time to help others. And it’s the very reason special awards were once more handed out at a wonderful event in the West Midlands recently.
Birmingham Town Hall was the venue for the British Gymnastics National Awards where 11 role models were short-listed and invited to enjoy an evening of friendship, appreciation and thanks for making such a difference to the sport.
Joanne Conroy from Warrington Gymnastics Club was one of those selected following her fund-raising efforts, work with its leadership academy and organisation of events. Joanne has been offering vital assistance for four years and was taken aback by the interest in her work: “I felt very overwhelmed! From my point of view, I don’t feel that I make that much of a difference, but it seems like I do and when I was told by Mandy, our Operations Manager that she had nominated me, I was speechless.
“It was really interesting speaking to the other volunteers from the other clubs on the night, finding out what they’re doing, what they’ve achieved, what challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve overcome them, and it gave me lots of ideas to take away to my club.”
It’s important to mention Joanne is hoping to expand the club’s Leadership Academy, a national programme designed to create a structure to help young people develop as leaders within a gymnastics environment.
Even for our Olympic gymnasts their local club, in many cases, is the starting point on the road to success. That doesn’t change for volunteers, and with more than 1400 clubs up and down the land there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. The sport is continually growing in popularity and more volunteers are certainly needed. From admin to helping with events, there are more than 40 each year alongside a large number of other local competitions – there are so many important roles to play. If you have a particular skill, it’s possible to get involved on the committee too.
There are clubs looking for book-keepers, membership co-ordinators, equipment assistants and more. And, of course, whether younger or older, you’ll always get a warm welcome. What’s more, it’s possible to eventually begin life as a coach, thanks to yet another cutting-edge scheme supervised by the governing body.
As we’ve read so many times, becoming part of something so exciting can be truly inspirational for the people around you. So why not take a closer look at what could be possible as a volunteer?
The Fabric of Gymnastics
“It’s fantastic to be able to recognise some of our outstanding volunteers who are part of the fabric of our sport,” said Geoff Grant, Volunteering Support and Development Manager at British Gymnastics.
“We are constantly looking at ways to show our appreciation for our amazing volunteers who are working hard to keep people engaged in our sport every day and we will continue to have this in our minds as we move forward.
“I want to help them realise how valued they are in the club because sometimes people don’t realise what they are doing matters, so I really want to do a push on that and get them working alongside the coaches to help them grow their confidence.”
A Major Component
The National Awards are now a major part of the gymnastics schedule and long may it be so as far as our volunteers are concerned. It’s fitting this year’s event was attended by some of our elite gymnasts happy to talk about the job volunteers do. They are in every sense, a priceless commodity in a fast-moving world.
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