England’s top golf volunteers were recognised this week with awards for their inspiring work which encourages people to take up and enjoy the sport.
The 2012 Volunteer of the Year awards, made by the England Golf Partnership (EGP), were presented during the annual County Golf Development Conference dinner at the National Golf Centre, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire (21-22 February, 2012).
The winners were: Patrick Denning of Kent, Shenal Patel of Surrey, Sally Benn of Derbyshire, Guy Carr of County Durham, Carol Delf of Norfolk, Jenny Clink of Gloucestershire and Ted Leather of Cheshire.
They were applauded by a packed conference hall made up of those leading the EGP’s vision to ‘Grow the Game’ through the County Golf Partnership structure.
Phil Beard, Volunteer Manager for the England Golf Partnership, said: “These volunteers are truly inspiring people who play a crucial part in growing the game. They readily give up their time and many people are playing and enjoying golf because of their encouragement. These awards recognise the importance and value of our volunteers.”
Patrick Denning of Kent – Young Golf Volunteer of the Year, under 18
Patrick, 17, was one of 25 Young Ambassadors for the Kent Golf Partnership’s Open Legacy project and impressed with his determination and commitment. He volunteered at every opportunity at club sessions, Golf Live! and The Open Championship. He’s gone on volunteering: by helping PGA professional Greg Haenen at his club, Boughton, where he plays off nine; by working at the National Skills Challenge final; and joining the National Youth Panel, which gives young people a voice in the future of golf in England.
Volunteering has helped increase Patrick’s confidence to overcome a stammer and he has successfully given a live radio interview.
Patrick remarked: “Volunteering has opened up a new world for me and shown me how much work goes on in the background at events.”
Shenal Patel of Surrey – Golf Volunteer of the Year, age 18-25
In two years, Shenal has journeyed from golf novice to competent player – and a volunteer contributing hundreds of hours to supporting other newcomers to the game. She took free beginner lessons at the World of Golf range in New Malden before joining Coombe Wood Golf Club, where she plays off 24. When her degree course required volunteer work she returned to World of Golf, taking her PGA Level One qualification and supporting PGA professional Jon Woodroffe and his team at beginner group lessons and at golf days.
Shenal, 25, was recently appointed to a job with London 2012 and credits her successful career move to her volunteering skills.
“This is a massive honour and I didn’t expect it. I volunteer just for the sake of it, giving back what I get from golf and hopefully inspiring other people to play,” she said.
Sally Benn of Derbyshire – Golf Volunteer Coach of the Year
Sally is junior organiser at Ashbourne Golf Club and is renowned for her efforts to promote junior golf within the club, schools and county. Sally is a PGA Level One coach and supports club PGA professional Andrew Smith with junior coaching. She runs the club’s junior section, offering a range of activities for all abilities, and was instrumental in Ashbourne’s success in achieving the GolfMark award and becoming runners-up for the 2011 GolfMark Club of the Year award.
Sally, who has been involved in sport all her life, also delivers Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme at local schools and is involved in county junior golf.
“I put a lot in – but I get an awful lot out,” said Sally. “It’s great to see people reach their potential and if I can be a cog in the wheel it’s incredible.”
Guy Carr of Durham – Club Development Award
Guy played a major role in securing the 2011 McGregor Trophy for his club, South Moor in County Durham. It brought an international field of U16 competitors to the club and left a legacy for members and visitors of improvements to the course and practice facilities. Hosting the EGU championship also raised the profile of the club and helped attract 80 new members.
Guy is a PGA Level One coach and helps club PGA professional Shaun Cowell at weekly junior sessions. Guy, a past captain and a committee member, is also involved in current initiatives to further improve the club.
Guy said: “It’s fantastic to win this award but it represents all the hard work done by a lot of people.”
Carol Delf of Norfolk – County Development Award
Carol has been involved with the Norfolk Golf Partnership since its earliest days, helping to found the organisation and becoming chairman in 2010. She actively encourages clubs to make the most of grass roots opportunities to encourage more people into the game and into club membership.
Carol is also a stalwart of women’s and girls’ golf in Norfolk where she has been county captain and chairman and is currently county junior organiser. She is also a key volunteer at her own club, Gt Yarmouth & Caister, where she has been ladies’ captain and a member of the club committee.
“This award is good for Norfolk, it’s recognition for what we’re doing in the county – and that’s what it’s all about,” said Carol.
Jenny Clink of Gloucestershire – Services to Golf/Lifetime Achievement (female)
Jenny Clink has been involved in golf at all levels, from encouraging new golfers to captaining elite players and taking key roles in the administration of the game. Jenny, who plays at Lilley Brook, has been Gloucestershire’s county captain and president. She’s a past chairman of the English Ladies’ Golf Association, was manager of three successful England teams at the girls’ Home Internationals, and as England captain, won two ladies’ Home Internationals and two bronze medals in European team championships. She is also a sought-after referee.
Jenny helped found the Gloucestershire Golf Partnership and is actively involved at grass roots events.
Jenny said: “Having played golf for almost all of my life I have been very happy to ‘give back’ time to the game, and it has more than repaid me. I have also been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and I have never learned to say ‘No’!”
Ted Leather of Cheshire – Services to Golf/Lifetime Achievement (male)
Ted Leather is known for his passion and enthusiasm for the Cheshire Golf Partnership and its work to grow the game. He was instrumental in setting up the partnership and has chaired it since it launched in 2009, working with “a very good team who are responsible for the success we have at the moment.”
Over the past year he’s combined his CGP duties with those of club captain at Warrington Golf Club, where he’s been a member for over 40 years. Ted was president of the Cheshire Union of Golf Clubs in 2008 and still sits on the executive committee.
“I’ve always been very keen to develop golf and to look forward to the future, but I certainly didn’t expect this award,” said Ted.
The national volunteering programme is delivered via the England Golf Partnership’s ‘Whole Sport Plan’ for golf and is an integral part of the England Golf Partnership’s vision to ‘Grow the Game’.
For more on volunteers go to www.golfvolunteers.org
Picture shows left to right: Jenny Clink, Guy Carr, Sally Benn, Ted Leather, Carol Delf and Patrick Denning.