September 30, 2021

Archery GB’s Club and Volunteer Awards shine spotlight on pandemic response

Volunteers, AGB staff and club representatives came together on Thursday evening to celebrate the extraordinary efforts of those who have sustained archery through the past 12 months.

This year the event combined the ontarget club and volunteer awards into one evening which was held at AGB's headquarters at the National Sports Centre in Lilleshall as well as being streamed online for those unable to attend in person.

Anyone could nominate an individual or organisation with 10 categories in total.

During the black-tie event photos and videos of the nominees were shown and each winner was presented with an engraved glass award to keep.

Opening the evening, Mark Briegal, chairman of Archery GB, said: "The aim of this evening is to celebrate our amazing volunteers. Without our volunteers we as an organisation wouldn't exist.

"We are a diverse group of people and we want to become more diverse. These awards cover a much more diverse range of members than ever before."

Introducing the awards, Neil Armitage, CEO of Archery GB, said: "It's been a pretty difficult year but we want to leave that behind as we move into our new membership year.

"We value every single one of our volunteers - without you we couldn't deliver our fantastic sport."

As well as the winners, a number of individuals and clubs were highly commended - a full list is available at the end of this article.

The evening began with the first of two special recognition awards. The first was given to GB compound archer Ella Gibson to celebrate not only her achievements as an athlete but also her efforts to help others within the sport. Ella won numerous national and international competitions over the last 12 months. She also won all five stages of the National Tour and holds the world record for 60m. Ella also volunteered to shoot against the compound Paralympians to help them prepare for Tokyo 2020.

The second award was for Volunteer of the Year with the winner presented with the Hartwell Trophy. The winner was Sailesh Shah of Greenwood Osterley Archers. The judges were impressed with Sailesh's commitment to volunteering over 30 years. As the club chairman he has volunteered for several hours each week to rebuild the club following the impact of the pandemic. Sailesh has introduced the wider community to archery and secured a new venue for the club by building local partnerships.

Next up a special mention went to Mandie Elson and Helen Sharpe for their commitment to widening participation in archery at club, county and regional levels.

The next award was the Young Volunteer of the Year which recognises those under 25. The prize went to Aaron Christie of Lonsdale Archers. Aaron is a founding member of his club and champions junior archery. He lends his support to have-a-go events and organised the club's Big Weekend. Thanks to Aaron's hard work 50% of the club's members are now juniors!

Next up was the Disability Archery Award which sees the Gussy Trophy presented to someone who has made an impact in the field of disability archery.

The winner was The Fletchers' Trust, a charity that has been single-minded in its dedication to supporting disabled archers and disability archery competitions through significant funding grants.

The Coach of the Year award sets out to recognise the contribution coaches have made in enriching lives through archery. The winner was Danny Cameron of Thirsk Bowmen.

Lloyd Brown, AGB's coach development manager, said: "Danny has worked with 32 clubs to develop a coaching strategy, and has also worked outside of his county to help clubs develop their coaching strategies. Danny has also recently become a coach developer to continue sharing his knowledge and developing more coaches.”

The second special recognition award was given posthumously to Christine Gascoigne for her lifetime contribution to archery coaching. Christine sadly passed away in the last year.

The first of the club awards was the ontarget Community Club of the Year. Audco Archers were chosen because of their incredible response to an increase in demand from the local community to try archery coming out of Covid. The club have a dedicated volunteer who oversaw running back-to-back beginners' courses through the spring and summer of 2021 to meet demand. The club also took part in the last three Big Weekends and is active online to boost awareness of archery locally.

The second ontarget award was for Young People Club of the Year. The winners were Wallingford Castle Archers. Wallingford is a young club, with one of the largest number of archers under 12 in the country. Their young people's development programme supports approximately 80 junior archers from the age of 6 upwards, with several juniors developed to county level.

The next award was the ontarget Performance Club of the Year. The overall winners were Peacock Archery. The club works with a very diverse community of archers in the Cambridge area while continuing to bring new participants into the sport. They promote every bow style, men and women, and all ages. Their archers show consistent progress and take part in numerous competitions.

The ontarget Club of the Year goes to the club that has shown the most contribution to the development of archery. Deer Park Archers were recognised for their incredible efforts to grow the club and the sport despite the impact of Covid-19. Projects this year have included installing outdoor floodlit facilities and an all-weather surface to supplement indoor winter shooting, raising £21,000 to fund purchase of local land to secure/develop a field course and launching a health and safety campaign which involved purchasing a defibrillator.

The next award was the Toxophilus Trophy which goes to any club, county or region that has shown exemplary support to the archers, clubs, or counties in their area, seeking to influence change and good practice through exceptional member engagement.

The winner was Northern Counties Archery Society (NCAS) Coaching Group. NCAS were nominated for helping clubs produce a coaching plan which defines how a club recruits, retains and develops its archers, and equally importantly, how a club recruits, retains and develops its coaches. The project has brought coaches from across the region together creating a coaching network.

The final club award of the night was for Participation Project of the Year. The winner was Barking RFC and Muslimah Sports Association. The two organisations were represented by Yashmin Harun and Graham Comley.

Gayle Pink, AGB head of clubs and communities - who nominated the project, said: "Yashmin and Graham have worked hard to develop a Project Rimaya club at Barking Rugby Club. It's a fantastic partnership between AGB, MSA and Barking Rugby Club.

"We launched the project by delivering an AGB Instructors Award to 12 Muslim women. The newly qualified instructors will be mentored to deliver local have-a-go's and beginners' courses.”

Concluding the evening, Arran Coggan, director of participation, said: "It's really nice that we can bring people together tonight and celebrate what's happening in archery.

"We've seen some really innovative ways that people have been active in the sport over the last 12 months. It was also volunteers who helped us with our Covid guidance.

"I'm continually humbled by the work that you do on a daily basis within the sport. Thank you to everyone of you and well done to the nominees."

Highly Commended

Volunteer of the Year

  • Helen Sharpe of Wellingborough Open Archery Club
  • Pete Cotter of Mayflower Archers

Young Volunteer of the Year

  • Sinead Byrne of Ballyvally Archers and NI Performance Academy
  • Jack Sharpe of Wellingborough Open Archery Club

Disability Archery Award

  • Paralympians Jess Stretton and Dave Phillips
  • Disability archery supporters David Holland and Helen Sharpe

Coach of the Year

  • Philip Watson of Peacock Archery
  • Ian Hughes of Red Dragon Archers

Community Club of the Year

  • Croesoswallt Archers
  • Wymondham Archers

Young People Club of the Year

  • Wellingborough Open Archery Club
  • Ashford Archers

Performance Club of the Year

  • Six Towns Company of Archers
  • Pennine Archers

Club of the Year

  • Ogmore Valley
  • Wymondham Archers

Toxophilus Trophy

  • Blandy Jenkins Archers
  • Deer Park Archers
  • Goldcrest

Participation Project of the Year

  • Men in Sheds
  • The Hubb
  • The Northants Schools Project - led by Helen Sharpe
  • Flamestrike Archery - led by Lydia Lee

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