Seven inspirational volunteers, who encourage others to take up and enjoy golf, were recognised yesterday when they were named England Golf’s 2014 Volunteers of the Year.
They are: Keith Mitchell of Essex, Suzy Smith of Oxfordshire, Mark Knight of Hertfordshire, Lloyd Millwood of Middlesex, Mike Greener of Durham, Fiorella Badin from Surrey, and Lacey Clark of Kent
The 2014 awards were presented during a gala dinner at the annual County Golf Development Conference at Staverton Park, Northamptonshire. The winners were applauded by those leading the vision to ‘grow the game’ at grassroots level through the national network of County Golf Partnerships.
David Joy, the England Golf Chief Executive, said: “Volunteers play a vital role in the development of golf at every level and we are fortunate to have so many dedicated and talented people who readily volunteer at club, county, regional and national levels.
“We are delighted to be recognising the great work of seven inspirational people this year who have done so much to encourage others to take up the game, to play more often and to improve.”
The award winners:
Lifetime Achievement Award for Services to Golf – male
Keith Mitchell of Rochford Hundred Golf Club, Essex
Keith has been volunteering in golf for almost two decades and has helped encourage over 2000 boys and girls to get into golf.
His first involvement was at his club, where he played a crucial role in the creation of the thriving cadets’ section and, working with the club’s PGA professional, started the ‘Hi-Fliers’ to attract and encourage ‘new-to-golf’ children. He has also helped to forge links with local schools to interest more youngsters in golf.
After being club captain, he joined the Essex Golf Union in 2009 and has managed the U16 and U14 teams and helped develop coaching programmes for young golfers. He represented the Union on the Essex County Golf Partnership and was involved with the introduction of the County Academy Programme. Keith also developed the U14 Junior Golf Tour, the county U12 coaching centres and the five new starter centres established this year.
Essex President John Peters commented: “The Essex Golf Union is proud of Keith Mitchell’s personal achievements and his dedication to promoting junior golf in general and Essex in particular.
“Keith’s work and commitment has been outstanding over a period approaching 20 years and he has been the catalyst for over 2000 young boys and girls getting into golf.”
Lifetime Achievement Award for Services to Golf – female
Suzy Smith of Henley Golf Club, Oxfordshire
Suzy has made a huge contribution to junior golf within her club, within Oxfordshire and within the BB&O (Berks, Bucks & Oxon) County Golf Partnership.
She has been on the club’s junior committee for 11 years, taking a very active role to encourage children to play golf, and supporting the club professional in his work with juniors. In the last two years alone she’s organised free sessions to give 1200 local school children a taste of golf.
Suzy has also been the Oxfordshire Ladies’ county junior organiser and is still involved with the county juniors. She also helped to set up the BB&O Partnership’s Academy and, as a level one coach, works both within her club and the partnership programmes.
Henley’s PGA professional Mark Howell said: “Henley Golf Club would not be the same if it wasn't for Suzy’s enthusiasm and all the time she gives up to organise golf in the area.”
Suzy has been a member at Henley since childhood and was ladies’ captain in 2003, following in the footsteps of her mother, who held the office in 1988. They are Henley’s only ‘mother and daughter’ captains.
County Development Award
Mark Knight of Redbourn Golf Club, Hertfordshire
PGA professionals, parents, club and county golf figures are unanimous: Mark Knight is an inspiration in the world of junior golf. He’s reckoned to spend around 40 hours a week on his volunteer work, which include club, county and national roles.
They include being junior organiser at his club and nurturing a section with around 90 youngsters, including a strong girls’ membership. Mark also helped Redbourn achieve the GolfMark High Achiever status and has supported other clubs to achieve the national award for junior and beginner-friendly facilities.
He helps to run the Hertfordshire Golf Partnership’s junior tours and he’s involved as a volunteer level 1 coach with the County Academy Programme. He has a key role with Hertfordshire junior leagues, liaises with the County Schools’ Association and runs the strength and conditioning programme for county players.
Mark is also the manager for the England Golf U16 girls’ Thames Valley squad.
PGA professional Lee Jordan of Little Hay Golf Club is the lead coach for the County Academy Programme. He commented: “I have never met anyone in the game of golf that devotes as much time to junior golf as Mark Knight, he is a true inspiration and role model.”
Club Development Award
Lloyd Millwood of Pinner Hill Golf Club, Middlesex
Lloyd Millwood’s hard work has made Pinner Hill a recognised centre of development for juniors in Middlesex.
Since he took over as junior organiser in 1996 he has grown the junior section from 42 members – including one girl – to 106, of whom 24 are girls. In addition he has created a thriving nursery section of 30 children aged four to eight years.
Lloyd trained as a beginner coach and has taken regular free classes in local schools. He’s also recruited nine other adult volunteers who have trained as coaches to help with the nursery section.
He organises a comprehensive series of coaching courses for youngsters, all the way from beginner status right through to Middlesex junior county team level. Pinner Hill currently provides six members to the Middlesex boys’ team and eight to the Middlesex girls’ team. One junior has represented England and two girls have been chosen for this year’s England Golf Thames Valley regional U16 squad.
Lloyd has also expanded the programme of competitions and matches for juniors and successfully achieved the GolfMark award for the club, in recognition of its junior and beginner friendly facilities. Now, he is turning his attention to the club’s adult membership.
Volunteer Coach of the Year
Mike Greener of the David Leadbetter Academy, Durham
Mike Greener is a level 1 coach who regularly works alongside David Leadbetter coach Andrew Nicholson at the Wynyard Golf Club, supporting the development of the academy.
He helps with the administration of the development programmes for the Durham county men’s squads and also attends county matches to assist in the evaluation of squad performance.
Mike has a similar role with the Durham girls’ squad who are currently top in the northern counties and were unbeaten last year.
Mike is the manager of the England Golf U16 girls’ squad for Yorkshire, which Andrew coaches. In addition, he has supported the Durham County Golf Partnership’s County Academy Programme by assisting lead coach Craig Dilley in coaching younger players aged 8-15.
Andrew commented: “Mike has volunteered too many hours to count over the past year and has become a very experienced coach through the varied work he has done to support players of all ages and gender.
“I am without doubt saying that Mike as an unpaid volunteer has a profound impact on both local and national squad development and it would be great if he were recognised for this at a national level.”
Young Volunteer of the Year (18-25)
Fiorella Badin of Kingston University, Surrey
Fiorella became a golf activator in 2012 when she came over from Spain to study law at Kingston University, Surrey. She found out about the role at a freshers’ fair and, having played golf in Spain, she was quickly involved.
She has encouraged students to join the golf society and has linked with the local Get into golf centre at Sandown Park where members go for lessons and to play the nine-hole course. Crazy golf at World of Golf is another popular date.
A Facebook page helps to keep keeps the students in touch with the busy programme which includes golf days, social events, meetings with other university societies and night golf. The society now has its own committee with marketing and events coordinators.
Fiorella, 19, has also become a level one coach and has attended training with the Golf Foundation as a Street Golf activator.
Fiorella has already been recognised by her university and has received Kingston’s VIPs award: Volunteers Inspiring Young People via Sport.
Young Volunteer of the Year (Under 18)
Lacey Clark of West Kent Golf Club
Lacey Clark loves golf and encouraging more people to play and has already won an England Golf Gold Award after volunteering at least 50 hours in her local community.
The 16-year-old was inspired to volunteer in golf by her aunt, Kim Brusadelli, who is a past winner of an England Golf Volunteer of the Year award and who is now the club support officer for the Kent Golf Partnership. “I’ve pretty much followed Kim,” said Lacey. “I started going in to schools with her when I was about 10!”
Lacey, who plays for the Kent girls’ team and has a handicap of six, is a familiar figure at festivals, in schools and at taster events, where she encourages people of all ages to try the game.
She’s the student activator for golf at Bromley College – she’s taking a BTec in Sport at the Orpington campus – and is generating enthusiasm for the sport among fellow students. Lacey-Rose has also just completed a two-year term as junior captain at Aquarius Golf Club, where she is also a member.
She has just joined the England Golf Partnership’s Youth Panel, which gives young people a voice in the future of golf in England.
“She proves to be a great ambassador for our great game,” commented Kim.
Image (© Leaderboard Photography) shows from left (back row) Mike Greener, Keith Mitchell, Mark Knight and Lloyd Millwood; (front row) Lacey Clark, Suzy Smith and Fiorella Badin.