Local volunteer Helene Bolton was named winner of the RunTogether Leader of the Year Award in the East at the 2019 England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards earlier this month.
Helene, 47, was presented with her award at a special ceremony, held at Bedford International Stadium, as part of the U17 and U15 Age Group Championships to celebrate and reward volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to athletics and running in the East.
Speaking at the event just after receiving her award, Helene said, “It’s absolutely brilliant however I couldn’t do it without the support of the group.
“It’s so exciting to see people’s progression, we have some individuals who started with a Couch to 5k who are now running a half marathon”.
Helene was nominated for the award because of her enthusiasm and support to help all local RunTogether members of her HLB Runners group to complete their Couch to 5K.
And once they’ve completed the initial training she finds ways to encourage each runner to continue running and to stay involved in the group.
Some members of the group have progressed to doing half marathons, full marathons and triathlons, and this is all down to Helene’s encouragement and support.
Helene is also a sign language interpreter, she supports deaf people learning to run, encouraging them and giving them the confidence to get involved in the group and take part too.
One group member said, “Helene is a positive person who gives so much as a volunteer run leader and has encouraged so many people in our village to take up running; she is definitely improving the health of the community.
“She’s organised lots of social events for the group too, including a breakfast run, a Christmas social and a community run in her local village.
“She’s an inspiration to the whole group and is a wonderful part of the community, most definitely deserving to win.”
England Athletics is hosting a total of nine regional awards across England this year throughout September and early October.
Helene will now join the other regional winners at the England Athletics National Volunteer Awards & Hall of Fame Ceremony on Saturday 12 October at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.
The event will not only honour volunteers from across England but will also induct some of the stars of athletics and running into the England Athletics Hall of Fame. Since its launch in 2008, Hall of Fame inductees have included Sir Roger Bannister, Lord Sebastian Coe, Paula Radcliffe MBE and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Chris Jones, CEO of England Athletics, said: “Our sport of athletics and running is built on the selfless and invaluable contribution that our amazing volunteers make.
“It’s fantastic that, through our Regional Volunteer Awards, we can put our volunteers in the spotlight and reward the fantastic work that they do week in, week out.
“We hope that the stories of our award winners and nominees can also inspire other people to get involved in our great sport. ”