Raise your glasses please to Simon and Karen Ward – the first couple to be crowned Fuller’s London Pride Golf Stewards of the Year.
The husband-and-wife team from Wilmslow Golf Club in Cheshire were named as the 2013 winners of England’s top title for golf club stewards at the annual presentation lunch at The Counting House in London.
The North Region winners claimed the national honour ahead of contenders from the country’s other three regions: South East winner Steve Warren of Eaton, Norwich; Midlands winner David Guest of Halesowen, Worcestershire; and South West winner, for the second year in succession, Anna Tyson of Dainton Park in Devon.
They all received their trophies from England Golf chief executive, David Joy, and from Mark Roberts, Fuller’s trade marketing manager.
The Wards – who were described by the judges as working together like strawberries and cream – win a two-night stay in a Fuller’s Hotel, as well as advertising space to promote their club in the local Press, and a certificate and trophy.
The couple were overwhelmed when the result was announced and Simon commented: “This such an honour and we can’t thank our members enough for their support. This has come from our members – and if they’re happy, we’re happy!”
He went on: “We are the faces that members and visitors see, but it’s a team effort at Wilmslow, so thank you to the greenkeepers, the cleaners, the pro shop and office staff, the caterers and bar staff. Everyone plays their part in the experience for members and visitors.”
Karen added: “This isn’t just for us, it’s for the whole golf club and we are so proud to win and to be the first couple to win.”
The Wards are the first joint winners of the competition in the seven years that Fuller’s and England Golf have run this event. The 2013 edition attracted a record entry, with over 700 votes cast and more stewards nominated than ever before.
The judges were joined by the 2012 winner, Yvonne James of Rugby Golf Club, to whittle down the entries to three finalists in each region. Each of these 12 were visited personally before the four regional winners were chosen, having been judged on their commitment, innovation and standard of service and presentation, together with that extra special something which sets them apart.
Simon Ward is no stranger to this event, having been the Northern winner in 2011 and a regional finalist in 2012. This year, for the first time, the Wilmslow members and visitors nominated him with Karen as a team to be reckoned with.
During the four years they’ve been at Wilmslow the couple have transformed the social scene with quiz nights, themed nights, tribute acts and 50s and 60s styled events which help to keep the club busy during the winter evenings.
They’ve become increasingly involved with the committee structure with Karen joining the marketing team, and Simon chairing the social committee. They feed back the views of members and visitors and they’ve been able make a real difference to the running of the club.
Karen has improved the experience for societies and has been rewarded with an increase in repeat business and new enquiries. Plans are already underway for the 2014 celebrations for the 125th anniversary of the club, with a summer ball and fun golf event. And, profits are up 35 per cent since 2009.
The Wards’ skills were put under the spotlight in September when Wilmslow hosted England Golf and the Women’s County Finals – a high-profile, five-day tournament contested by teams from six regions. Players, officials and spectators – most of whom were not aware the couple were in contention for this title – were lavish in their praise.
Wilmslow captain Reg Maddock echoed their remarks: “Simon and Karen have helped to make my year so enjoyable and made my life so easy! They are really involved in the running of the club and are the eyes and ears of what goes on. This has brought my year to an absolutely wonderful climax.”
Captions. Top: Fuller’s London Pride Golf Stewards of the Year, Simon and Karen Ward, are pictured at the presentation ceremony. Image © Gill Shaw