England’s growing network of golf volunteers was celebrated at a tribute dinner during the County Golf Development Conference at the National Golf Centre, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, on Tuesday, 23rd February.
A packed audience of more than 100 county golf specialists acclaimed the work of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds who sacrifice their valuable time to support others. A select few were presented with annual awards on the night as honoured guests of the England Golf Partnership.
EGP Chairman Bill Bryce said: “Every well-run sport is indebted to volunteers who are prepared through sheer enthusiasm to put in the hours needed to make a real difference. Our golf clubs, our sport’s structure and our golf events would not develop and thrive without them.
“Some real champions of volunteering have been singled out for special awards here and it should be noted that they represent only a small selection of thousands who deserve appreciation for their continued good work.”
Two headline presentations included the Services to Golf awards for both men and women. Mike Leek of Shirley Golf Club, West Midlands, has been a member of his club for 52 years and in that time has forged personal relationships with more than 3,000 disabled children who have experienced golf and has raised over £80,000 for disabled golf provision. He was active on club committees for more than 40 years and is now lifetime president of Shirley Golf Club.
The second Services to Golf award was presented to Eileen Binding of Enmore Park Golf Club, Somerset, who has served loyally on key club and county committees, including serving as county treasurer between 2002-2008. She has twice been ladies’ captain, has produced her club’s newsletter, and helped prepare the club for GolfMark, Higher Achiever accreditation. Eileen has served as a volunteer for more than 36 years.
The award for Services to County Golf Development went to Judy Ray, from Northamptonshire County Ladies Association. Judy has devoted many years to both ladies’ and girls’ golf, has played for the county and in 22 years has held numerous posts in her county association including president, captain, junior organiser and honorary secretary.
The Services to Club Development award was won by Andrew Plane, of Eden Golf Club, Cumbria. He has served as junior organiser for over 15 years, runs free junior sessions for 46 weeks of the year, has formed a juniors’ committee at the club, a Tigers Club for youngsters and helped to build a thriving junior section which has produced many elite amateur and professional players.
Volunteer Coach of the Year went to Kevin Cademy-Taylor, County Captain for Northumberland Union, who has represented the team more than 60 times. A PGA UKCC Level 1 coach, he has run boys’ coaching at club and county level, organised the network of county coaches, raised thousands to support coaching and helped Northumberland win the Northern Counties for the first time in 17 years.
Encouraging young people to get involved is an important role of the England Golf Partnership volunteers programme.
The award for 18-25 Year Old Volunteer of the Year went to Richard Shaw, who has been a member of the England Golf Partnership Youth Panel for three years and is in his final year studying for the PGA supported Applied Golf Management Studies degree course at Birmingham University, where he has set up a golf volunteer team of 16 other students working to develop the game of golf within the Midlands area. Richard has worked at numerous golf events including volunteering at the Special Olympics National Summer Games in Leicester
Andrew McDonald, of Kenton School in Newcastle, was selected as Under 18 Volunteer of the Year. Andrew has been actively involved in the Golf Foundation’s successful Golf Roots project, mentoring youngsters as they travel to festivals and helping them develop as golfers, and perhaps the highlight of his year was caddying for Manuel Pinero and Costantino Rocca at a European Senior Tour event at De Vere Slaley Hall.
The awards ceremony was led by EGP volunteer manager Philip Beard and the winners were presented with their awards by EGP Chairman Bill Bryce.