Unsung Hero Award Finalists
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The Unsung Hero Award recognises a volunteer who gives up their own time to a club, association, activity or project for the benefit of the participants and/or community. It celebrates those who have made a significant impact through their volunteering and support opportunities for people to be more active.
Lianne Havell (Sutton-on-sea Beachcare)
Lianne Havell founded Sutton-on-sea Beachcare with her son 7 years ago. She has worked hard to create a happy, friendship led group of litter pickers and wildlife watchers. Although the incentive of forming the group was to support their local environment, volunteers benefits from walking miles along the coast, enjoying the physical and mental health benefits this brings, as well as the social aspects of being part of the group. The group now have many volunteers of all ages and ability, many of whom also pick litter around their areas individually, getting out and about when they never used to. The group try and be as inclusive as possible, putitng on litter picks with less able people, and supporting them with longer litter pickers.
The group also do wildlife spotting, reporting archaeology and strandline checks. Education work is important and they regularly speak to school children about their work, and the importance of keeping beaches and the countryside litter free, as well as encouraging children and young people to get outside and enjoy nature. They recently led a walk with 30 schoolchildren and teachers from Nottinghamshire who travelled to join them. They also do beach cleans with companies and local businesses etc. Sutton-on-sea has recently received Blue Flag status, and Lianne and her group were recognised by local councillors for their contribution to achieving this.
"Walking on sand can sometimes feel tough and certainly increases the blood rate and heart rate. Those who are with our volunteers and find that hard are encouraged to walk the same distance if they wish using the prom instead. Its good exerecise for people and a social activity at the same time. Often litter picking does encourage people to get out and about more and help with the pride of the area while making themselves feel good too."
Gemma Lamb (Lincoln Vulcan's Swim Club)
Gemma has been recognised for her hard work and dedication as a volunteer coach at Lincoln Vulcans Swimming club, where she coaches for around 16 hours per week, as well as accompanying swimmers to swim meets, and county and regional championships around the country. This is on top of having a full time job and being a single parent.
Gemma has been a coach at the club since after The Covid lockdown – prior to this she was a coach at Lincoln Pentaqua. She has worked her way to get qualified as a level 2 coach, and she only misses a session if she is on a rare holiday. Gemma has supported the club to secure recent success– the junior team has just come 10th in Junior league nationally (out of 500 clubs). Children come in learn to swim and then develop their fitness and level of activity through Gemma’s squads. Very few of Gemma’s swimmers quit the sport (this is otherwise common) – she has a way with the children that encourages them to continue with a sport that is very demanding and extremely hard.
"From a parent point of view, I see the impact she has on children’s lives – she doesn’t just concentrate on the high performing swimmers – she gives equal attention to all swimmers. She nurtures them, encourages them, rewards them – she KNOWS every swimmer inside and out. My own son adores Gemma – she spends 12 hours per week as his mentor and friend and she has taken him from a quite shy swimmer to regional finalist."
Jake Shepherd (Lincoln Invictus Football Club)
18 year old Jake Shepherd is lead coach for Lincoln Invictus Football Club's Youth PAN-Disability Teams. Jake began volunteering with the club in Summer 2022, assisting the Youth Team Coaches. As his confidence developed, he began leading sessions which were well received by the players. When in December 2022 the Club’s lead Youth Coach left, Jake, without hesitation, volunteered to step up and take over the role.
The players ages range from 6-16 and they have a variety of disabilities, mental health conditions and behavioural issues. Jake manages to tailor the sessions to be inclusive for all, catering for the players’ diverse needs which is no mean feat, even for the most experienced of coaches. Jake gives up a lot of his own time to carry out his role, missing his own matches to attend training and to support his players at tournaments. He also put hours into preparation for his sessions, setting up, clearing away and debriefing with other coaches. Jake is a natural leader who has earned the respect of the players, his fellow coaches and the parents. His passion for the game is infectious. He makes an effort to understand the individual needs and skillsets of his players and demonstrates a genuine interest in them and their development. His sessions don’t solely focus on developing football skills, they also focus on life skills such as teamwork, leadership and self-confidence.
The Club were recently selected to deliver a pilot scheme for the FA, ‘Comets’; a programme aims to encourage 5-11 year olds with disabilities to try football for the first time in a safe, inclusive environment. Jake didn’t hesitate in agreeing to lead the program. He has had a big impact on his players, many of whom are unable to access mainstream football due to their needs. He has helped them develop confidence and self-belief, and overcome barriers to achieve their full potential.
"Jake is an inspirational young man and an excellent role model to the young people he coaches. He is the perfect example of what can be achieved through hard work, perseverance, and commitment. He demonstrates a level of maturity, commitment and knowledge far beyond his years."