Proud Mansfield Harriers pick up four East Midlands accolades at awards night

Proud Mansfield Harriers picked up four of the nine honours at the England Athletics East Midlands Volunteer Awards, writes Richard Massey.
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The night gives the athletics and running community a chance to celebrate the fantastic volunteers across the nine English regions.

The East Midlands region consists of the counties of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire and the regions award night was held at the Hilton Gateway Hotel in Nottingham.

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Nine category awards were up for grabs at the event plus a new award as England Athletics have teamed up with the charity Room to Reward to reward one of the nine regional winners with a free hotel break.

Award collectors from left - Pat Carlan, Claire Tomsett, Sophie Toyn and Richard Massey.Award collectors from left - Pat Carlan, Claire Tomsett, Sophie Toyn and Richard Massey.
Award collectors from left - Pat Carlan, Claire Tomsett, Sophie Toyn and Richard Massey.

With the award winners and runners up announced on the night Mansfield went into the night with volunteers down to the last two in four categories.

One of the best nights in the club’s history ensued as all four came away as winners.

First up was the award for Newcomer to Volunteering and beginning a successful night Claire Tomsett was first up to collect an award for the club.

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The format throughout was the winner was announced, the statement from the winning nomination was read out and a video of the winner in action was shown followed by a short interview.

On the statement it read Claire has great organisational skills, a determination to learn and an engaging personality making a real impact on athletics at grass roots level.

Next up for Mansfield came the coach of the year award and Richard Massey was announced the winner in what was described as the most competitive category to select a winner.

Part of the winning statement read Richard has taken the time to find different ways to coach juniors and seniors, from track athletes up to marathon runners.

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At training sessions, Richard doesn’t do a ‘one size fits all’ type of coaching. He urges everyone to encourage each other and takes time out of his days to come to events and races.

As an ex-athlete himself he knows what’s important mentally in an athlete's head. It’s the messages before and after every race making sure you're in the right place, it’s him being on the side lines at races no matter where they are in the country, he’ll make the effort to be there.

Club chairman Pat Carlan was up for club leader of the year and to loud applause from the Mansfield contingent in the room he collected his award.

Part of his nomination statement read - taking a club on the brink of closure and making it vibrant, viable and forward thinking again requires a high level of commitment and drive, as well as a willingness to get stuck in wherever your skills are needed.

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For this club the recruitment of a team of equally committed and forward thinking volunteers was key to their turnaround, with leadership by example being an essential part of the process.

From fixing the plumbing to race direction and grant application, coaching and governance thrown in for good measure, the chair of Mansfield Harriers, has done all this and more. Pat Carlan has taken his club from near collapse to once again being a thriving, successful organisation with a very bright future.

The final award was arguably the big one being the Club of the Year, and one of the club's talented athletes Sophie Toyn collected the trophy on behalf of the club.

The winning statement included - forward thinking leadership have enabled this once struggling club to become a thriving hub for athletics activity within the local community.

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As well as working hard to recruit, train and retain volunteers across all aspects of its activities, from administration to athlete development and access to its facilities the club has fine-tuned its governance to enable it to attract funding and ensure financial sustainability.

To conclude the successful evening for Harriers, Richard Massey was announced as the winner of the Room to Reward prize.