Our friends at Vitality have been celebrating the volunteers who you can’t live without through their Volunteer of the Month programme. We take a look at some of the most recent winners. And it’s not too late, if you know someone at your local parkrun who you feel is deserving of Vitality’s Volunteer of the Month, please nominate them here.
Alison has been involved as a volunteer since Stormont parkrun kicked off, quickly becoming RD. She volunteers at Ormeau junior parkrun too. In total she volunteered over 100 times. She has also helped out at the newest parkrun in Belfast – Orangefield, sharing her knowledge and experience. Her whole family: husband, two kids and her Mum are parkrunners. She knows how to engage other people and inspires others. She organised Stormont volunteer’s trip to another location when our home parkrun had been cancelled.. it developed a stronger bond between us and since then a core team of volunteers got bigger, we stay together and support one another. In fact most of us are running our first half marathon together soon!
Whatever the weather Eileen from Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun is always there capturing the great atmosphere of our parkrun which includes runners, volunteers and scenic shots. She brings her smile, clapping and encouragement which is always much appreciated to the morning. Eileen is just such a marvellous lady who loves a chat and we love hearing about her days of running. She puts the photos on Facebook for all to see. A truly inspirational lady who deserves recognition
James from Eglinton parkrun has a rare genetic condition, he also has a learning disability, uses a wheelchair and can not communicate verbally. Despite this he volunteers almost every week in all weathers. He always has a cheery smile when you run by and will give everyone who asks for one a high five. He brightens up our Saturday mornings, especially on cold wet days. He has a YouTube video, where park runners were asked to tell how they felt James contributed to parkrun and all the posts were positive as he is a stalwart now to us regular runners.
James has volunteered at Porthcawl parkrun over 200 times, arriving first on Saturday morning to open the store and set up the start and finish area before checking in all the volunteers and making sure all posts are filled. He will step in and cover any unfilled post to make sure everything runs smoothly. He also covers as Run Director several times each year. He uses his local business contacts to promote parkrun in the local business community and ensure that we have become part of normal life in Porthcawl. He is qualified First Responder and arranged CPR and basic first aid training for volunteers when we were presented with an AED.
After a serious heart op in 2013 Chris is still a regular runner and ambassador at Leeds Woodhouse Moor parkrun
Joshua is nearly 18 and has Downs Syndrome, he has run Cleethorpes four times and volunteered 54 times. He is the high five king and has the biggest hugs and smiles for everyone at Cleethorpes, parkrunners of all abilities can’t wait to find Joshua on the route.
Barbara attends Brundall parkrun herself every week come rain or shine either running, volunteering or as Run Director. She set up a couch to 5k for new parkrunners and supported them to complete parkrun. She volunteers at her running club and has just had a major operation and is still coming to support parkrunners whilst sitting in a chair. She supports everyone and is simply wonderful!
Tracy has just achieved her 250th week of volunteering! Originally as a core team member at Maidstone and then ED at Malling from 2015. Tracy is not a runner herself (aside from the occasional Westminster Mile) and so, to me , this makes her one the really special volunteers who do it purely for the pleasure of seeing others enjoy themselves. I feel Volunteer of the Month is a great way to say thank you. Without Tracy Malling parkrun would not be the same!
James has autism he turns up every week to hold the signs then runs he is an inspiration to each and every one that takes part at Barnstaple parkrun.
Lin is amazing and is loved and appreciated by everybody at Southend parkrun. She was a very good runner but had to stop running due to a bad back for which she had major spinal surgery last year.
Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she established herself as a stalwart volunteer marshal had has her own position at parkrun ‘Lin’s corner’, where she cheers everybody on whatever the weather, sometimes with Pom Poms, sometimes dressed up but ALWAYS with a smile, clap, cheer or hug for everyone.
Bryan Mercer from Coventry parkrun is one of the core volunteers who is always there. A veteran runner himself but no longer able to, he always encourages parkrunners to be the best they can be. He volunteers tirelessly and with enthusiasm. He has been suffering from Parkinson’s for a few years now but is always there, often with his daughter, which is wonderful.
Kate Doyle from Leamington Spa has been helping since the start – recent ill health had chemotherapy and still helping us serve drink to loads of Leamington parkrunners.
Ian Scott from Greenwich parkrun has completed over 120 full Marathons and over 100 parkruns. However, due to two serious heart operations over the last 18 months, he has been unable to run. Since the, he has volunteered at Greenwich Parkrun, where he has now marshalled over 100 times. He always arrives early and helps set up the course. He is the most enthusiastic and encouraging marshal at Greenwich Parkrun – ask any participant there about “Ian on first base”. He genuinely is one of the ‘good guys’ who will never let anybody down.
Alisha started out as a shy and quiet girl. She has turned up every week as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Award and as her confidence grows with interacting with others and older people she can now undertake more responsible roles such as Time Keeper.
Miriam started volunteering at Pollock parkrun as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and enjoyed it so much that she keeps coming! She is quietly confident and effective at all of the roles she has undertaken and remains unfazed by any occasional drama. She also was awarded the Under 18 Volunteer of the Year at the Pollock parkrun anniversary event in December 2017 having volunteered on 31 occasions during the year.
Camperdown parkrun’s Peter has volunteered at most events over the last few years and always has words of encouragement.
Nine year old Lola from Boston parkrun has tried most volunteer roles and her favourite is handing out tokens, it’s quite a sight to see her standing at the end of the funnel with all of the sprint finishes! She’s also perfected a ‘power-up’ high-five when she marshals to give everyone a boost and always encourages everyone.
Paul Williams from Heslington parkrun has volunteered at virtually every event since it began. No matter the weather, Paul will be there!
Mary is always found volunteering at Killerton parkrun and can always be found at her regular corner spot!
439 parkrunners were there to congratulate Stuart when he was awarded Vitality Volunteer of the Month. Stuart works with young people to inspire them to be healthier and is a part of Birkenhead parkrun folklore, well known for wearing shorts all year round!
In January, Luke Dobson was fighting for his life after contracting sepsis, he was so determined to fight the disease and get back to his volunteering at Rogiet parkrun, he was back just 10 weeks after having the disease!
Tara Leacey from Shipley parkrun has had to deal with a variety of weather conditions from a water-logged field at the start, to mud, ice, snow and least commonly, a chemical spill into one of the ponds in the park resulting in a total of five different routes!
Over at Killerton parkrun, stalwart volunteer Dianne Hollidge is a massive inspiration and radiates positivity, despite recently losing her father who always encouraged her to run.
Andy Lorimer at Stonehaven has been a volunteer since September 2016, he shared his favourite parkrun memory: “We had been trying to get the local running club to become more interested in parkrun and so gather more runners and volunteers. A day was set and we were impressed by the turnout unfortunately the weather took a hand, the skies darkened and torrential rain fell in sheets. The finish funnel became awash and some of the runners even belly-flopped across the finish line. I don’t think I have seen so many people jammed inside a portable gazebo!”
Austin volunteered for the first time at Market Harborough parkrun in February 2016. He has now volunteered on 104 occasions out of a possible 110 since! He settled in well to the area when he moved in 2015, but says that it is the warmth and friendliness of the people at parkrun who have helped make him feel particularly welcome throughout the week, when he bumps into parkrunnners. His marshal spot is kindly referred to as ‘Austin’s Corner’ and new marshals often ‘share’ the spot to get used to the role!
Ryan is regularly mentioned by parkrunners at Whiteley parkrun for his charming, encouraging nature. parkrunners pass Ryan three times on the course and he still cheers everyone on each time, in fact he’s been so inspired by the parkrunners that he is about to complete a couch to 5k programme so that he can complete the route as well as volunteer!
Tony Beyga from Croxteth Hall parkrun was a member of the original team who scoped, set up and launched the event over three years ago. Since then he has been ever-present and has recently completed his 140th volunteering stint! Everyone at Croxteth loves Tony for his great photographs, he manages to capture everyone and then spends the rest of the day editing and uploading the snaps, sometimes he even manages to run the course and still do a great job as photographer!
Colin from Durham has completed 888 volunteer roles on 430 occasions across both Durham parkrun and Sedgefield junior parkrun. Everyone gave him a massive thanks on being awarded Vitality’s Volunteer of the Month!
Derek Judge resides at Walthamstow parkrun and like many others, started volunteering due to injury. “I really enjoyed encouraging all the runners and appreciating their efforts. As a Marshal you really notice all the different running styles and the inclusive atmosphere that exists at Walthamstow. At times the weather was very bad but knowing that I was playing a part in such a great weekly event, was well worth standing in the cold and rain.”
James Reilly, also known as Jim, from Redcar parkrun was born in 1922, he is a World War Two, RAF veteran. Jim and his late wife Anne have been involved in athletics throughout their lives. Anne was the Scottish champion at 440yds and 880yds and was an Olympic trialist and Jim was a cross country runner at school and in the Air Force. Jim completed the London Marathon in his late 60s and is president of Redcar Running Club and a long serving volunteer at Redcar parkrun. In fact, he has marshalled 201 times since 2014! Thanks Jim!
Next we take a trip to Birkenhead parkrun where we find Jon Rumley, who started his parkrun volunteer journey in August 2015 and has so far completed 91 volunteer stints! Jon has seen Birkenhead go from 200 parkrunners a week to 400 and looks forward to Saturday each week: “To say I was a bit stunned when I was presented with my award was an understatement. It was a proud moment for me and I hope for our parkrun.”
Emily McManamon from Swindon parkrun first got into running in December 2016 and proceeded to attend her first parkrun earlier this year. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go to plan as she explains:
“I never thought of myself as a runner I frequently wondered why anyone would want to run more than 5k! When I took up running properly in Dec 2016, I couldn’t even run 2k, but I wanted to be fitter, so I pushed on. As I was new to running I was unaware of parkrun, I only found out about it when I joined Swindon Striders in May 2017. Striders started to volunteer as pacers for parkrun in Jan 2018. I was keen to support people getting into running, encourage all towards a PB and be part of the local support network, so I gladly put myself forward.
“On a cold January morning I took my bib and place as the 35 minute pacer. My first ever parkrun was about to start! I did not finish that first parkrun, my first run became a fellow runners last when a lady collapsed next to me. I immediately called an ambulance. Amazing people stopped and gave CPR whilst I was on the phone to the emergency services. My next parkrun was the memorial run. I completed my first even parkrun in the memory of Tracie. I felt peaceful after the run; the touching eulogy given by the Run Director at the start, the flowers that had been donated in memory for us to carry and the laying them to rest at the end of the run. It helped me get to know and grieve for a woman who had a profound impact on my life.
“Despite the challenging introduction I am now a parkrun regular, running and pacing. I do this because the volunteers are amazing and the runners are fabulous. The atmosphere there is fun, positive, encouraging and I love it! I keep coming back to parkrun because all of the volunteers and runners are award worthy! Taking up running has been life changing for me. I have learnt you can improve anything if you apply motivation and discipline and you should never set limitations only goals; aim to smash everything!”
Hannah from Central Park juniors has officially volunteered 51 times and has completed 86 parkruns. As volunteer coordinator she manages to look after the Facebook page, check the emails, organise both the volunteer roster and the volunteers on the day! Hannah says: “My motivation for helping set up and run the junior parkrun locally is my two children. My daughter who absolutely loves parkrun but couldn’t manage 5k and my son who is not yet old enough to run.”
First up is Leigh Barker from Northampton parkrun. After giving up running due to an injury Leigh started volunteering at parkrun and to date Leigh has volunteered a total of 231 times. She has only ever completed one parkrun herself, which was last Saturday as Tail Walker!
Dave from Bolton parkrun discovered his local event when a running career was cut short by a persistent knee injury. After a few volunteer stints he realised he didn’t so much miss the running, it was the contact with friends that he missed the most and parkrun filled this void!
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