Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service awarded to Grantham Tennis Club
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Grantham Tennis Club in Lincolnshire is celebrating after being awarded a prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) in recognition of the outstanding work the Club has done for their local community.
The awards, announced to coincide with National Volunteers’ Week last week, are regarded as the equivalent of an MBE and are the highest awards given to local voluntary groups in the UK. Created in 2002 for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the QAVS awards shine a light on the fantastic work of voluntary groups, and are awarded for life.
Seven years ago, Grantham Tennis Club developed from being a purely volunteer-led club with six courts and a small clubhouse to a facility with nine outdoor courts, four mini courts, four indoor courts, a gym, cafe, bar, therapy rooms, art gallery and some paid staff.
However, although their facilities changed, their volunteer culture and ethos stayed, with an emphasis put on protecting the community feel of the club.
The Club’s volunteers include their committee, junior committee, maintenance team, colleagues who go above and beyond their contracted hours, team captains and many members of the club who assist and enable their coaches to deliver community programmes.
The extensive community programmes run by Grantham range from wellbeing, Active at 60, Walking Tennis, learning disability, Run Talk Run and many more.
Having been awarded a QAVS, Grantham will receive a certificate signed by the Queen and a domed glass crystal. Representatives from the Club may also be invited to attend a royal garden party.
Lianne Firth, Chair at Grantham Tennis Club, said: “We are thrilled and extremely honoured to receive The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Our incredible volunteers truly are the lifeblood of Grantham Tennis Club. A massive thank you for their hard work, support and everything they do to help make us more than just a tennis club.
It is a testament to the wealth of people who give their time for our community, our players, our teams and the running of our club – each and every one of these people form the culture of our club and maintain its spirit.”
Alex Beaumont, Volunteering Manager at the LTA, said: “Every week, thousands of people across the country are making a difference by volunteering their time to help support and grow tennis in Britain, and open up the tremendous physical and mental wellbeing benefits tennis offers to more people.
“Grantham Tennis Club is an outstanding example of that, and on behalf of everyone at the LTA we’d like to congratulate them on receiving this special and much deserved recognition.”
Speaking as part of the announcement of this year’s award recipients, Sir Martyn Lewis, Chair of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service Committee, said: “Volunteer groups are the beating heart of our country. The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is there to champion the outstanding work that these groups do for local communities.
“Each and every one of this year’s recipients have inspired us with their exceptional stories and the phenomenal legacies they’ve created. The recipients of the Queen’s Award are all committed volunteers who support communities to come together and tackle problems head on. They never shy away from hard work. And they have never been needed more than now.
“Your work sets an incredible example to others and I congratulate all of you receiving a Queen’s Award this year.”
This year there were 241 recipients of The Queen’s Award Voluntary Service. To be eligible, the majority of the group must be volunteers, and they should do work that provides a service and meets a need for people living in the local community, is supported, recognised and respected by the local community and the people who benefit from it, and is run locally. Further details about the QAVS are available at qavs.dcms.gov.uk.
Grantham’s volunteers – ‘more than just a tennis club’
Club Manager Sarah Patton provides an insight into the difference volunteers make at Grantham Tennis Club & Gym…
I have been fortunate to have been involved in tennis for 40 years, and I have seen how tennis clubs across the country are full of amazing volunteers, benefit from volunteers’ hard work and have felt how rewarding being a volunteer can be.
At Grantham, we would simply not be the club we are today without our team of volunteers backed by staff.
Our club committee, many of whom have travelled the journey with us, and wonderful Chairperson Lianne Firth, volunteered their time to meet, steer and be the ambassadors our club could ever wish for.
Our President Jean Firth and Vice-Presidents Sue Taylor and Peter Murton can always be found before, during and after all social events. They were part of the volunteer team during lockdowns, regularly checking in with members and our community coaching groups
The club's maintenance staff, ably assisted by volunteers, ensure the courts, grounds and buildings are kept in excellent condition.
A special mention was given to a few volunteers; to Dale Wright for his instrumental work in creating and driving the Feeling Good mental health groups and Active at ‘65. LTA Awards National Volunteer Finalist Sue Stannard shows an unmatched willingness to help wherever needed at the club, from assisting coaching groups and recently overseeing our Volunteer programme for our many community and disability coaching groups which include Feeling Good, wheelchair tennis, learning disability tennis, Active at 65, diabetes support and Walking Tennis. Joe Hill, one of the gym team leads up our Run Talk Run, and walk talk walk. Nigel Fathers' humour and warmth assisting in the learning disability sessions have been loved by players, parents and fellow coaches.
Our volunteer team captains and parent team captains ensure members can play competitive tennis in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and further afield in the National Club Leagues.
We love teenagers and plenty volunteer in our junior committee. Our Tennis Leaders help in lessons and holiday camps. Many also give their time to the club as part of their Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Older siblings are often encouraged to volunteer to help in their younger siblings' lessons.
The club cafe has a volunteer work programme for people with learning disabilities to work alongside the staff, some for a short six-week experience, some for longer. This had to stop due to Covid-19, but we are eager to start the programme up again.
It is to all these volunteers, the paid staff who volunteer above and beyond their working hours and everyone who helps in small but important ways that make Grantham Tennis Club ‘more than just a tennis club’.