On Tuesday 13th June, Somerset Rugby and England Rugby were proud to present the Honda Volunteer of the Year Awards 2023, hosted at Howards Honda in Taunton.
The Honda Volunteer of the Year Awards is a nationwide initiative that allows anyone involved in rugby to nominate a volunteer at a grassroots rugby club or within the wider rugby family who deserves recognition for their exceptional contributions to the sport over the past 12 months. From the coaches to the secretaries and grounds teams, rugby would not be the game we love without the volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make it happen.
With over 100,000 volunteers across the country, the Honda Volunteer Recognition Programme provides an opportunity to say thank you to the people who give back to the rugby community, week in, week out.
To recognise the outstanding contribution that volunteers have made to both their rugby clubs and the wider community, this year’s national awards programme focused on three specific categories:
• Unsung Hero which recognises those who have gone above and beyond to provide positive experiences, enhance member enjoyment and ensure that their club is fit for the future.
• Game for All to celebrate those who have provided an inspiring offer to engage with their local community, making the game even more accessible and providing a welcoming environment for all.
• Challenging Spirit to recognise volunteers who have implemented new ideas to help re-build after the pandemic – whether engaging and retaining players or increasing the number of games played.
With over 30 volunteers or groups of volunteers nominated from clubs all over Somerset, the event was a great opportunity to get the rugby family together and celebrate the fantastic work that the volunteers do to facilitate the running of rugby within the county.
Out of these deserving Somerset winners, one is invited to the National Honda Volunteer of the Year Awards at Twickenham in September, where three national winners will be announced.
- The winner of the Unsung Hero Award was Matt Giles, North Petherton RFC.
- The winners for Challenging Spirit were Gary Webster and Will Pearn, Frome RFC.
- The winners of Game for all were Simon Chambers, Dave Copeland, Alex Peters, Sam Trevor and Trevor Wallace from Walcot Warriors & Walcot RFC.
The National Finalist chosen by England Rugby was the team from Walcot Warriors and Walcot RFC.
Walcot Warriors came together through the disability strand of Project Rugby, which seeks to introduce players from hard-to-reach sections of our society to the sport, to rugby clubs and the communities that exist around them.
Mixed ability rugby encourages social inclusion by mixing able-bodied volunteers and coaches who act as facilitators to support the players on the pitch. Mixed ability rugby is not about classifying levels of ability and separating participants into tier groups. The actual game of rugby is the same, with the only rule change being that scrums are uncontested in mixed ability games.
Walcot Warriors continues to break down barriers to sport by providing mixed ability rugby to members of their local community. Walcot Warriors is volunteer led and operated, yet they provide a common ground for everyone to get fit, socialise, and compete. In this community, ex-players, new players and underrepresented players hold equal value and underrepresented groups are integrated into the rugby community. The efforts of the volunteers have lasting and positive impacts on the mental and physical health of the individuals in the community, whilst improving the social, emotional, and physical outcomes of all its members.
Matt Nebel, Volunteer Co-ordinator for Somerset Rugby said:
“We are delighted that we can celebrate our volunteers through the Honda Volunteer
Recognition Programme, and celebrate the exceptional work done so that others can play
rugby and clubs can continue to be at the heart of their communities. The tireless work that the team at Walcot RFC have been doing is fantastic and we wish them all the best of luck at the national awards at Twickenham.”
Somerset Rugby, like all its member clubs, is run by a team of volunteers and are currently looking for volunteers with new ideas and a passion for rugby. To find out how you could make a difference to Somerset Rugby, please email [email protected]
Somerset Rugby would like to thank Honda UK for their partnership in making these awards possible and extend our thanks to Howards Motor Group for hosting the event.