England’s wonderful’ golf volunteers are honoured

Volunteers of the Year

Six “wonderful” volunteers, who inspire others to take up and enjoy golf, were honoured this week when they were named England’s Golf Volunteers of the Year.

The 2013 awards, made by the England Golf Partnership (EGP), were presented during a gala dinner at the annual County Golf Development Conference at Loughborough University.

The winners were: Charlotte Stanton of Staffordshire and Birmingham University, Bev Dodd of Lancashire, Wendy Wootton of Suffolk, Alan Covey of Sussex, Kevin Whalley of Hertfordshire and Nickie Clarke of Norfolk.

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, the EGP’s Volunteer Manager, said: “These volunteers are wonderful people who give up their time to inspire others to take up and enjoy golf. They play a crucial part in growing the game and these awards recognise and underline their importance.”

The award winners:

Young Volunteer of the Year
Charlotte Stanton, Whittington Heath Golf Club, Staffordshire

Charlotte, 20, is a five-handicap county player who began volunteering by helping at girls’ beginner classes run by the Staffordshire Golf Partnership. She was soon invited to join the EGP’s National Youth Panel and has been a member for three years, supporting community projects and helping to give young people a voice in the future of golf.

She’s in her final year at Birmingham University where she is taking Applied Golf Management Studies and has gained her Level 2 coaching qualification. She’s the university’s volunteer golf activator and has encouraged a massive growth in student participation in the sport, also liaising and working with the Warwickshire Golf Partnership.

Charlotte said: “It’s great to be recognised for what I’ve done. I don’t do it for the recognition but it does give you that bit more motivation to carry on.”

Volunteer Coach of the Year
Bev Dodd, Rossendale Golf Club, Lancashire

Bev switched from hockey to golf less than 10 years ago, is passionate about the game and passes on her enthusiasm to children and adults alike. She is the club’s junior development officer and has trained as a Level 1 Coach, supporting PGA professionals Steve Nicholls and Mike Bardi at coaching sessions for the youngsters.

Her overall contribution to the junior section is described by her club as “outstanding” and she was instrumental in Rossendale acquiring the Golfmark award in recognition of its junior and beginner-friendly facilities. She’s even persuaded some parents to take up golf!

Bev has also organised taster sessions to encourage new golfers and she supports and mentors new lady members.

“I was really surprised by the award and feel very proud and honoured to have been selected,” said Bev. “It’s wonderful.”

Club Development Award
Wendy Wootton of Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club, Suffolk

Wendy is both junior organiser and director of marketing and membership and her club describes her as a ‘champion volunteer’. She is also secretary of the Suffolk Golf Partnership, which develops the game in the county.

Wendy’s achievements include setting up the club’s Kingsfleet Juniors to encourage young children and she visits local schools with the club’s PGA professional, Robert Joyce, to introduce youngsters to Tri Golf. She was instrumental in the club receiving the GolfMark High Achiever Award.

In her marketing and membership role she sets out to generate more income for the club and has organised open days to attract new members.

Wendy said: “The award has really lifted me and, more importantly, it puts the club even more on the map. I’m very proud and really pleased to be part of this club.”

County Development Award
Alan Covey of Ifield Golf Club, Sussex

Alan won the vote of parents and players when the Sussex County Golf Union put him forward for this award. He has just completed seven years as the county boys’ manager and his nomination was accompanied by a string of testimonials.

They were summed up with this comment: “Alan is a very worthy nominee – he has influenced the golfing futures of so many boys through his tireless optimism and enthusiasm and by the enormous amount of his own time that he has been prepared to give over the years.”

Alan, now the Sussex county captain, commented: “I am only one of many county managers who work tirelessly to try and make our juniors ‘the best they can be’. This award should be for all them and the fantastic committees that make it all happen around the country.”

Lifetime Achievement Award for Services to Golf – male
Kevin Whalley of Mill Green Golf Club, Hertfordshire

Kevin, who has been profoundly deaf since birth, receives this award in recognition of his tremendous contribution to deaf golf, both in England and around the world.

He started organised deaf golf in England in the early 1980s and has run more than 100 events over the years. He became a director of the British Deaf Sports Council before becoming closely involved with the English Deaf Golf Association, of which he is currently president and treasurer.  

Kevin was the secretary and treasurer of World Deaf Golf Federation and organised the first World Deaf Golf Championship in 1995 at the Forest of Arden after seven years’ research to find countries with deaf golfers.

He commented: “It’s wonderful to receive this award after 30 years of volunteering and it is particularly special because it is recognition for deaf golf.”

Lifetime Achievement Award for Services to Golf – female
Nickie Clarke of Royal Norwich Golf Club, Norfolk

Nickie has volunteered in golf at every level – club, county and country – for over 30 years. She’s been captain at her club, a county team player and Norfolk captain (twice!) and she’s currently county president. She also runs the county ladies’ website.

She chaired the former English Ladies’ Golf Association and captained England teams for three years. She’s been jointly responsible for the project to reassess the scratch score of ladies’ courses in England.

Nickie also plays a key role in the recruitment of new golfers as a founding member of the Norfolk Golf Partnership, which grows the game in the county.

She commented: “I am extremely proud to receive this award and feel very humble to have been chosen when there are so many other volunteers who have done just as much.”

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

Caption (from left): Wendy Wootton, Alan Covey, Charlotte Stanton, Kevin Whalley, Bev Dodd and Nickie Clarke.