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Hat-trick of national awards for Harriers

Posted onPosted on 21st Mar

Mansfield Harriers collected three out of nine national awards at the England Athletics presentation evening in Birmingham.

The club’s success, featured in the News Journal in March, saw it named club of the year, while chair Pat Carlan was club leader of the year, and Claire Tomsett was named newcomer to volunteering.

The awards evening was told that inclusivity, an athlete-centred approach, and dynamic, forward thinking leadership have enabled the once-struggling club to become a thriving hub for athletics activity in the community.

As well as working hard to recruit, train, and retain volunteers across all aspects of its activities, from administration to athlete development and access to its facilities, the club has fine-tuned its governance to enable it to attract funding and ensure financial sustainability.

Richard Massey and David Lisgo received the award on behalf of the club. When asked what was the key to getting volunteers, they said a coordinator was vital, adding: “They were able to do direct approaches to people — that works best. And we raffled out Room to Reward prize to active coaches over the last 10 years. We’ve grown from three to 25 since 2012.”

Club leader of the year Pat Carlan was said to have taken a club on the brink of closure and made it vibrant and viable again.

The awards said that required a high level of commitment and drive, as well as a willingness to get stuck in wherever his skills were needed, with leadership by example an essential part of the process.

His citation added: “From fixing the plumbing to race direction and grant application, coaching and governance, chair Pat Carlan has done all this and more — taking Mansfield Harriers from near collapse to once again being a thriving, successful organisation.”

Pat said the secret of his success was lots of hard work from the volunteers, but if you have the same goal you can get far — and success breeds success.

Newcomer to volunteering winner Claire Tomsett was said to be a welcoming face for new, young athletes and their families — and making a real impact on athletics at grassroots level.

Claire, who initially joined Harriers as the parent of a young athlete, has put that experience to good use. Combining a friendly approach with a depth of knowledge, she has helped parents become more involved in club activity.

She is under-13 Sportshall team manager and also assists with the coaching of a large under-11 group.

“I love seeing the ones just starting out, seeing them build confidence and progress over the weeks. Plus, it’s great to give something back,” Claire said.

The trio of awards followed success at the East Midlands regional volunteer awards evening, where Harriers’ Richard Massey was named regional coach of the year.