Middlesex RWC Volunteer Awards
and the winner is…
The winners of the Middlesex RWC Volunteer Awards were announced last night, Friday 11th September, at a glittering awards ceremony, where the William Webb Ellis cup was the star attraction.
Being a rugby volunteer can sometimes be a thankless job but these awards show that volunteers are recognised for their hard work and commitment at their clubs. All the nominees have made a significant contributio to their club and the game.
More than 1500 individual club members voted, with over 3000 votes being cast across the seven categories.
The Unsung Hero award is presented to that special volunteer without whom the club or section of the club just wouldn’t operate.
1st Place – Angus Thomson (Staines)
Angus has gone above and beyond the call of duty for his club. He drives the club sports therapist to away games, along with massage tables and first aid kit. As kit manager, he takes all the playing kit to the cleaners and cleans all water bottles after every training session and games. He provides support to all players. He helps write up medical notes, takes players to hospital and frequently gives up his Saturday evenings to stay with the players in hospital until relatives arrive. He has been an absolute necessity to the club during the season.
2nd Place – Bernadette Weeks (Ealing Trailfinders)
Bernadette manages the club shop, working very hard throughout the season. The shop provides significant revenue for the club and without her hard work and dedication the club would not be able to do the things it does. She is responsible for stock control, ordering kit, cash management and organising the volunteers who run the shop at weekends when it is open. She also organises setting up the mobile shop on match days. A really committed volunteer with great responsibility who’s hard work behind the scenes is rarely seen and appreciated by the members in general.
3rd Place – Antony Chadwick (Haringey Rhinos)
Antony is a linchpin of his club and as Honorary Secretary has the unenviable job of organising committee meetings, rounding up the committee and then making sure everyone does what they say they’re going to do. He is the first person anyone calls with a query on game day and is the first person to jump in his car to buy the beer when it runs out! He’s even been known to wash the kit from time to time. He has built a great relationship with a local pub, who now sponsor the team. He has passed a number of coaching qualifications and regularly coaches the minis teams.
Lifetime achievement award – Tony Winslade (Old Isleworthians)
This award celebrates a club member who has dedicated his or her life to the club and made a major impact on the club’s success over a sustained period. Their unstinting contribution should go above and beyond the everyday and be of long and lasting benefit to the club.
Tony has served his club for 40 years, as captain, chairman and then as president. He successfully started a series VP lunches to ensure past members remained in touch with the club and visited to support the teams. He is currently membership and registration secretary where he maintains the database he developed.
He has been responsible for the successful big anniversary celebrations along with annual past players days. He manages all club communications and produces a weekly newsletter. His diligence as membership secretary has improved the collection of membership subscriptions and raised over £25,000 via the life membership scheme.
He holds the records of being on 70 club tours and has played for 40 seasons when he finally hung his boots up at the age of 65. Although his playing days may be behind him, he is still a very active member of the club, helping the club grow and develop each season.
Special Recognition Award – Luca Vaninni (Chiswick)
This award is presented to a club member who has performed a task of outstanding quality or unusual importance to the club and which has had a major effect on the club’s success either on or off the field.
Luca has just finished his third season as First XV Captain, leading the players during possibly the most successful period in the clubs history. He is popular and respect around the club, both on and off the field. He is willing to help in every aspect of club life, from organising equipment on match days to taking a turn behind the bar after the game. After his successes on the pitch he is now looking at how we can get more involved at committee level.
RWC Legacy Award – Damien Bouvier (Hackney)
This award recognises an outstanding individual who has derived for their club significant benefit from having the World Cup on our own doorstep, by making long term game-changing contributions to their team, club, county or local community which will reap rewards long after the tournament has finished.
Damien has been one of the most engaged and enthusiastic club Cup Champions. Over the last two years he has attended meetings and contributed to sharing ideas and solutions as part of the legacy discussions. He submitted a strong application for the Trophy Tour and was successful in the application, which saw the Trophy at an event in Hackney on 7th September. The aim was to help promote the sport to disadvantaged youngsters in the area. He has also arranged a successful under 23s tournament as part of the returning players in the 16 – 24 age group as part of the Festival of Rugby.
Referee of the Year – Joe Russel (Ruislip)
Joe is an active referee and is continually striving to develop his volunteering and refereeing experiences. He is always enthusiastic about refereeing at all festivals and tournaments when asked and uses his role as Club Young Rugby Ambassador to promote the sport and encourage others to get into refereeing.
Coach of the Year – Gareth Vaughan Jones
Gareth has been an inspirational, enthusiastic coach for the club minis under 12s for the last few years. In that time he has taken on the chairmanship of the mini section and has helped to develop the club at all age groups. He took time out to qualify as a referee which he is passionate about. And he does all this whilst being a father of four young children.
Outstanding Young volunteer – Joe Thomson (Staines)
Joe is a club Young Rugby Ambassador who has led a team that have put in place a number of initiatives which have attracted a lot of media attention and have made a significant impact on recruitment at Staines. Using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and developing their own App to assist in club development has helped recruit 26 new players, 18 of which fell into the 16 – 24 category. Despite sitting his exams, Joe still managed to fit in coach and referee courses which have involved him in coaching and refereeing both for his club and other local clubs. He has an innovative approach to growing the game, not only at his club but with Middlesex as a whole.
University Volunteer of the Year – Becky Piddleston (St Mary’s University)
Becky was one of the first students to come through the Middlesex University Volunteer Scheme, which saw university students volunteer their services to help both the County and local clubs. She has been coaching in schools and supporting festivals throughout the year, whilst also being a driving force behind the success of her university team, St Mary’s. Her influence has transitioned a number of the university girls into club rugby as part of the Teddington Ladies Development team.
President’s VII Awards
These awards are slightly different from those presented at our annual awards evening in July. These special World Cup awards are tailored to align with the RFU’s seven key drivers for the Rugby World Cup, recognising those clubs who have contributed to the development of the game of grassroots rugby.
Returning Players – Ruislip
Ruislip has engaged with the Young Rugby Ambassador programme and allowed its YRAs to lead on 16 – 24 returning players activities. They have scheduled a number of scholars events, inviting local clubs and colleges to play a series of tournaments, including 15, 10, 7-a-side and touch rugby. They have already held events last September and at Easter and are planning three regular dates in the diary each year.
Touch Rugby – Old Isleworthians & Harlequin Ladies
Both clubs have always been conscious of the needs of the community around the club and as such, have for a long time, been running mid week touch rugby sessions from the end of season until training commences. Whilst encouraging current players to attend, there was always much emphasis on the sessions being open to all the community.
This year, things took a step up. Firstly, Old Isleworthians linked with their female counterparts Harlequin Ladies, who now share their ground, and collaborated with Virgin Active gym based at Twickenham Stadium to organise and run the ‘touch rugby’ part of their ‘Turf Up’ charity event held at the stadium in June. This initiative brought touch rugby to people who had never thought of participating, let alone playing on the hallowed turf. Both clubs carried on from this session by running their normal touch rugby sessions in a local park to further emphasise their commitment to encouraging local people to join in and be part of the rugby family.
Other Nations – Staines
Staines has forged strong links with its Italian counterparts. During the Six Nations tournament they hosted a vets game, captained by the Middlesex President, Brian East, to raise money for a charity set up in memory of a young Italian player who tragically lost his life too soon. They raised over £4,000, which went to a bursary for two young Italian players to spend two weeks with the club and find out what club rugby was all about in England. This has strengthened relations between the two countries and the association will continue each year.
Cultural Engagement – Darussalam Mosque
One of the aims of these awards is to reach out to the wider Middlesex rugby community and not just focus on the great work being done by clubs. the Darussalam Mosque has worked with the RFU RDOs and CRCs to use rugby to engage and bring the local community together. They have supported the work with presentation evenings, advising on cultural differences and how these can be overcome using rugby.
Better Facilities – Wasps FC
Wasps FC has always kept an eye on long term investment for the future of their members, albeit, the facilities have always been a little under par for a club of their size. Over the last two years, the club has invested a lot of time and effort in the mammoth task of upgrading their facility. From applying for RFU Lead Up and Legacy funding to install new floodlights so all teams can train on a decent pitch, to building a new decking area, improvements to their facilities continue. The internal areas are next on the development plan list to be upgraded.
Investing in People – Chiswick
Clubs rely on their volunteers, who are the lifeblood the day-to-day activities, whether at training or on match days. Having multiple sections can put a strain on finding additional volunteers to ensure all teams and the general club organisation continues to function effectively. Investing in volunteers is sometimes not given enough priority. Chiswick has worked hard over the last couple of years to engage and develop new volunteers, now even more important since they have introduced mini rugby to the club and have plans to develop further with the introduction of junior rugby and hopefully a girl’s team. The focus on new volunteers has brought new parents and former players into the fold and training and investing in their personal development as well as giving them the tools and skills to carry out their role has become a high priority for this club.
More Schools – Heston School
The All Schools programme has had positive effects and success on and off the field in Middlesex. However, it is not always as easy as it looks. Heston School joined the All Schools programme but found it difficult to get started. It took one teacher to really get behind the programme and encourage the school and pupils to get it going. As a result, they have gone from strength to strength, proving that rugby is not only a great game but also helps the participating children grow and develop as individuals and achieve success in their school life.
A reminder of all the nominees, and the hard work they have put in for their clubs and the county…
For more information about the Rugby World Cup Volunteer Awards, please contact Louise Latter, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 07703 438935
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