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Three national awards mark turnaround at Mansfield Harriers

Posted onPosted on 30th Jan

England Athletics has recognised the continued development and progress at Mansfield Harriers AC with three national awards.

Harriers were named club of the year for their transformation from a struggling set-up to a thriving hub for athletics activity.

Claire Tomsett won the newcomer to volunteering accolade and Pat Carlan was named club leader of the year.

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.

The national awards will be presented in Birmingham on 16th March.

In 2012 Mansfield Harriers was evicted from its base at the Berry Hill track in the town and membership had fallen to below 100.

The club almost folded, but its remarkable revival began when it was given an opportunity to return to the Berry Hill track in 2020, taking responsibility for the athletics facilities under a lease agreement with Mansfield District Council.

At this time the facilities had been unused and neglected for almost 10 years and required more than £160,000 of investment to return it to use.

Membership now stands at more than 450 with the club offering six training sessions a week.

Athletes of all ages perform highly at local, regional, and national level across all disciplines — track, cross country, and road running.

The club of the year nomination said: “An athlete-centred approach and dynamic, forward-thinking leadership enabled this once struggling club to become a thriving hub for athletics activity within the local 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.

“Its athletes flourish across a broad range of disciplines and the club also hosts a good number of track and cross country meetings.”

After winning the regional club of the year award, chair Pat Carlan said: “The club is doing fantastic, really developing. A combination of everyone working together and the athletes bringing home the goods.

“Collaborating with other sports means we can deliver more in the community — getting everyone involved in sport, keeping healthy and fit.”

Newcomer to volunteering award winner Claire Thomsett was described as a welcoming face for new, young athletes and their families.

She went to the club initially as the parent of a young athlete and put that experience to good use. Her nomination added: “Combining a friendly approach with a real depth of knowledge, she helped parents become more involved in club activity, with some even taking on volunteer roles themselves.

“This athletics powerhouse has taken on the role of U-13 team manager at the regional Sportshall final and is now also assisting with the coaching of a large U-11 group.

“Her can-do attitude and dedication is appreciated by everyone at the club and at events.

“Claire has great organisational skills, a determination to learn, and an engaging personality, making a real impact on athletics at grass roots level.”

Receiving her regional accolade, Claire said: “I can’t quite believe it. I enjoy doing it and the club have been amazing and so supportive.

“You can get so much out of giving back — the children do so well, they turn up in all weathers.”

Club leader of the year Pat was praised for his high level of commitment and drive, as well as a willingness to get stuck in wherever his skills are needed.

His nomination said: “The recruitment of a team of equally-committed and forward-thinking volunteers was key to the club’s turnaround, with leadership by example being an essential part of the process.

“From fixing the plumbing to race direction and grant application, coaching and governance thrown in for good measure, the chair of Mansfield Harriers has done all this and more.

“Pat has taken his club from near collapse to once again being a thriving, successful organisation with a very bright future.”