Volunteers' Week: Championing our unsung heroes
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National Volunteers' Week is upon us! It is a time when the country comes together to thank all the fantastic people who give up their time to make a difference.
To celebrate, we’re shining a spotlight on three inspirational volunteers – all of whom have been shortlisted for ‘Volunteer of the Year’ at this year’s LTA Tennis Awards as a direct result of their hard work and outstanding passion….
To become a finalist for the LTA Tennis Awards, all three volunteers would have won their respective county and regional award to advance to the national stage...
Ken Thomas, Hoole Lawn Tennis Club – North Volunteer of the Year
Respected as one of life’s ‘nice guys' and an active member of Hoole LTC for more than 25 years, including many as a committee member, Ken is now in his mid-70s but shows no signs of slowing down – if you want something doing, he is the first to make himself available.
His professional engineering background has provided a multitude of vital skills, which have been so valuable and benefited his club over the years. This last year has very much been regarded as Ken’s most significant moment. His role as the club’s Site/Project Manager has helped to facilitate the smooth transition to a brand new location, with ten courts and a purpose-built clubhouse. This has enabled the club to expand its membership and encourage younger players to join.
Ken’s attention to detail and daily motivation has been crucial, and he saved the club many hundreds of pounds by making a major contribution to assist the planning permission process.
Marina Foxlee, Gunnersbury Triangle Lawn Tennis Club – London & South East Volunteer of the Year
Marina has provided the vision and energy that has seen the refurbishment of the club's kitchen and changing facilities, including full disabled access. Marina took the lead in generating grants for the £200,000 project and has invested a huge amount of her time in managing the process from beginning to end.
Through initiatives such as leafleting at nearby underground stations and organising the club's open day, Marina has substantially increased memberships by 23% in the past two years.
She has helped improve court facilities and supported the redesign of the club website and restructuring of fees to encourage more young people to join. Her mission was to re-invigorate social tennis, and the three weekly sessions are well attended.
Marina has been a member of Gunnersbury for 30 years and served on the tennis committee for six years – and as the chair for two of those. She tries to meet every new member and is proud of our deserved reputation as one of the friendliest tennis clubs in the area.
Mark Taber, Bishop Sutton Tennis Club – South & South West Volunteer of the Year
Having worked closely with the local Avon She Rallies ambassador, Mark has driven girls’ competition across the whole of Bristol, including clubs, schools and universities.
Over the span of five team challenge events, Mark has provided recreational, competitive opportunities for more than 70 young female players in Avon – opportunities that simply did not exist beforehand. His new Grade 5 girls event received entries beyond that of other girls events across the region.
He has recognised the need for additional girls’ competition within his local area and provided the chance for them to feed through the competition pathway. He also co-ordinated 25 junior and mini club teams and assisted other clubs by training their parents and coaches on how to run teams.
Mark has also raised more than £50,000 of funding from external sources to create a four court, floodlit community tennis facility at the local secondary school, providing additional chances for many people from the community and school children to play, lead and volunteer in tennis.
The winner of the ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award will be announced at the LTA Tennis Awards ceremony at The Championships, Wimbledon, on 2 July.
Find out how you can get into volunteering and check out our volunteering opportunities today!