Surrey’s Jean Hooper, who goes above and beyond to support the juniors at her club, has won England Golf’s Volunteer of the Year Award, sponsored by Players 1st.
Jean represents about 50,000 golf volunteers in the country and her achievements as junior organiser at Bramley Golf Club, near Guildford, were celebrated at the England Golf Awards, sponsored by Bridgestone.
The glittering, black tie event at the Royal Lancaster London highlighted all that’s great about golf in England and guests heard how Jean encourages, educates and integrates the juniors at her club.
She’s built up the section to around 70 members, including 12 girls, and gives up countless hours to get them on the course, involve them in competitions, organise matches – and have fun. She even chose her car for its capability to act as team transport!
“This came as such a shock to me,” she said of the award. “I do all this because I like doing it, but this is a lovely bonus – and one that I just didn’t see coming.”
Jean, a retired teacher, had many nominations from fellow club members and they spoke of her tireless devotion, outstanding organisation, and her passion, drive and enthusiasm. One member told how her interest transformed him from being in trouble at school to becoming junior captain and “the person I am today.”
The judges agreed with them, commenting: “Jean is an exceptional person who gives 100% and more. Her contribution to the club and members is immeasurable. She goes above and beyond in everything she does and clearly makes a significant impact on people’s lives for the better.”
Jean first became involved with the juniors about 10 years ago, inspired by the opportunity to give back in return for her son’s good experience at the club.
“I just like doing it, I like to see then progressing, moving from complete beginners to stunning gofers and I like to be part of what they are doing,” she commented.
She’s very keen that the juniors are integrated in the club and praises Bramley: “The club are brilliant, everyone wants to know how the juniors are getting on and the juniors are just part of the club, which is how it should be.”
Jean also believes that golf has a great role to play in helping shape youngsters and develop their confidence.
“Life is tough for youngsters these days, there are all sorts of routes you can go down and a lot of distractions,” she said.
“Golf is a lovely sport, you play with a variety of people and learn so much from the adults as well as the other juniors. The fact that it’s time consuming is good, it uses up their time, and there’s always company. It’s one of the safest environments you can be in, spend time in and meet people, young and old.”
Jean also managed to fit in a term as ladies’ captain alongside her junior duties and she’s an active member, playing off 23 handicap and enjoying the club matches – when not babysitting her two young grandchildren.
“The golf club is a large part of my life,” she said. “I’ll keep going until they throw me out! I just love it.”
The runners-up for the Volunteer of the Year Award were Sue Robertson of Berkshire, co-founder of the Disabled Golf Association; Richard Ward of Wrag Barn Golf Club, Wiltshire; and Jenny Winch of Test Valley Golf Club, Hampshire.
Caption: Jean Hooper receives her award from Morten Bisgaard, Chief Executive of Players 1st.