STAGING Winners of the 2018 British Rowing National Volunteer of the Year Awards honoured - British Rowing

Winners of the 2018 British Rowing National Volunteer of the Year Awards honoured

On Sunday 24 March, British Rowing hosted the annual Volunteer and Coach of the Year Awards, which had been postponed due to the snowy conditions earlier in the year


The 2018 Award winners line up with special guest Zoe De Toledo (c) Nick Middleton

The British Rowing National Volunteer of the Year Awards saw volunteers and coaches from across the country come together at the River & Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames, where they and their family members were joined by Regional Chairs, senior volunteers and British Rowing staff to celebrate their contribution to the sport.

Guest speaker Zoe De Toledo said: “It’s a great privilege to be able to present these prizes at the Volunteer and Coach Awards of the Year. The people we are honouring today are the backbone of our sport, from grass roots all the way through to high performance.


“All of us remember not only our first coach, but also the people who made the biggest impact on us in our sport, whether they are coaches or volunteers, or both. I have some huge admiration for those who turn up week in, week out, in rain, wind, and snow, to encourage participation in rowing. Thank you all for everything you do.”

From the many regional winners that were celebrated on the day, five national award winners were chosen and announced:

Volunteer of the Year: Martha Nutkins and Tom Hallett (both of Derby RC)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Brian Nelson (Gloucester RC) and John Canton (Peterborough City RC)
National Safety Award: Lewis Hancock (Derwent RC)
Rising Star Award: Emma Pullan (Northwich RC)

Martha Nutkins and Tom Hallett from Derby Rowing Club took home the Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition for their outstanding work to help grow and diversify the club and its membership.

The people we are honouring today are the backbone of our sport, from grass roots all the way through to high performance

In his nomination of Martha and Tom, Fred Hollis said: “All the people who joined our Learn to Row courses are unanimous in their praise for Tom and Martha and all agree that they and the club have had such a massive impact on their lives. They have committed to giving each person their full attention, no matter their age or level of fitness.”

Brian Nelson from Gloucester Rowing Club and John Canton from Peterborough City Rowing Club were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of their lifelong commitment to the sport they love.

Brian Nelson has been President / Chairman for Gloucester Rowing Club, Captain, a committee member and also a coach. At 87, he is as dedicated as ever, officiating at regattas most weekends and at the club most weekdays.

In Nelson’s nomination, Clive Pendry said: “Brian is one of the unsung heroes of our sport, always willing to help when something needs to be done whether it is towing a trailer, coaching a beginner’s crew, cutting the grass or fishing debris from the canal.”

Alongside Brian, John Canton received the National Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to Peterborough City Rowing Club (PCRC) since 1975, where he is Regatta Secretary. In 2008 he became Chairman and has been at the forefront of building a diverse membership at the club.

His nominators Steve Casey and Thomas Calver, said: “It is hard to estimate the number of people John has positively been involved with, in terms of bringing them into the sport and developing their involvement, but since the mid-1970s to date – and based on around 30 to 40 ‘new’ people per year – it must be 1,000 plus. That is just into PCRC and does not include the positive impact on those that have raced at PCRC events.”

Brian is one of the unsung heroes of our sport, always willing to help when something needs to be done

The National winner of the Rising Star Award was presented to Emma Pullan, of Northwich Rowing Club, for her contribution to the sport. Emma suffered a spinal injury as a J16, meaning she could no longer participate in rowing as an athlete. Determined to continue contributing to the sport, Emma became an integral part of the coaching team at the club, positively supporting youngsters in rowing.

In her nomination, Rachel Hooper said: “Emma has had such a positive impact on the youngsters at the club and is a real role model to both her peers and the athletes she works with. Her work has meant the club has been able to create a much more robust pathway for junior beginners and ensures they receive the right level of support.”

The National Safety Award was awarded to Lewis Hancock in recognition of his significant contribution to safety in rowing. A former international rower for both Canada and Wales, Lewis is a passionate and innovative advocate of safe practice on the water. His concern for the safety of his rowers at Derwent Rowing Club led to the mandatory adoption of high-visibility clothing on the water – with this and his advice to ‘look every five’ later being formulated into formal guidance for the sport.

Among the Coach of the Year Awards, Emma Cox from Looe Rowing Club won the award for Club Performance. A huge coaching presence at her club, Emma has coached everyone from novices through to senior squads. Her commitment to Looe men’s ‘A’ crew finally saw them achieve a famous victory at the World Pilot Gig Championships in the Isles of Scilly in 2018, after several years of coming second.

Ellie Hizzett won the Coach of the Year Award for Education Development. Totally dedicated to the sport, Ellie is the Durham University Boat Club Freshers’ Coach, Learn to Row Coach, Junior High Performance Academy Coach and Sculling Camp Lead Coach. She is also a part time coach at St Leonards School BC, Durham School BC and Cambois BC.

Of particular note is Ellie’s role in running the Learn to Row courses for Durham University, which sees her manage between 300 and 500 freshers over three weeks, teaching from 7am to 9.15pm – a phenomenal effort.

The Coach of the Year Award for Club Development was won by Rachel James of Bewdley Rowing Club. Instrumental in the running of the Club’s Learn to Row initiative for the last five years, Rachel ensures the programme is accessible to all, including those with disabilities, adapting the programme where needed and seeking extra resources to ensure opportunities for everyone to be involved in our sport. In the last 12 months Rachel has also coached the women’s intermediate squad at Bewdley, who entered the Women’s Head of the River Race as a squad for the first time last year.

Ellie’s role in the Learn to Row courses for Durham University sees her manage between 300 and 500 freshers over three weeks

Lea Rowing Club’s Junior Women’s team of Eric Beinhocker, Paul Carter, Tom Johnson, Orhan Kephalas, Richard Metcalfe, Dick Millard and Lewis Page won the Coach of the Year award for Coaching Team. This team of coaches have grown their squad from five to nearly 40 members between the ages of 12 and 18 years old.

As well as developing rowers that have won representation at GB and Junior Inter-Regional levels, the club has seen success at the London Youth Games. There is an inclusive mentality, which sees members with disabilities participating proactively alongside other members.

Bobby Thatcher won the Coach of the Year Award for Education Performance. Bobby has been St Paul’s School Boat Club Director of Rowing since July 2013, and First Eight Coach since July 2011. In that time he has developed the programme to an unprecedented level, reaching its pinnacle in 2018 with a first eight that was been acclaimed by many as one of the best schoolboy boats ever. St Paul’s trophy-laden season culminated at Henley Royal Regatta in 2018, where they won the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup, setting a new course record in the process.

Chris Morrell received the Beryl Crockford Award, for his contribution to the sport and the support provided to all those at Windsor Boys’ School. Chris started coaching at Windsor Boys’ School in 1976, and through many years of dedication helped turn this state school’s rowing programme into one that’s widely considered to be amongst the best in the country, with a formidable reputation on the junior rowing scene.

Chris Newcombe was the winner of the British Rowing Medal of Merit in recognition of his significant contribution to rowing. A popular and familiar face at competitions across the country, Chris has been the volunteer leader of the Duke of Edinburgh group based at Rolls Royce in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, and for over 20 years has been bringing his young volunteers to national and regional regattas to cover key duties including stake boats, timing and number collection.

It was a real privilege to be among so many of the people who make rowing the sport we all love

This year, the British Rowing Medal of Honour for outstanding service to the sport of rowing was awarded to Annamarie Phelps CBE for all the work she has done, and continues to do, for the sport of rowing, in the UK and internationally. We were delighted that Annamarie was able to join us at the lunch to receive both her award and the immense appreciation of the rowing community.

The Volunteer and Coach of the Year Awards, which celebrate and recognise the significant contribution that volunteers and coaches makes to our sport were presented by Mark Davies (Chair of British Rowing), Phil Hornsey (Director of Membership & Rowing Community), Sarah Harris (Head of Education & Training) and Olympic silver medallist Zoe De Toledo.

Phil Hornsey, Director of Membership & Rowing Community, said of the awards: “It was a real privilege to be among so many of the people who make rowing the sport we all love. On behalf of the whole rowing community I’d like to say how grateful we are for the passion, commitment and energy of not just our awards winners, but of every volunteer and coach in rowing, at every level of the sport – you really do make it all possible.”

2018 British Rowing Volunteer and Coach of the Year Awards winners
National Volunteer of the Year Award

Martha Nutkins and Tom Hallett (Derby RC)

National Lifetime Achievement Award

Brian Nelson (Gloucester RC)

John Canton (Peterborough City RC)

National Safety Award

Lewis Hancock (Derwent RC)

National Rising Star Award

Emma Pullan (Northwich RC)

Coach of the Year Award winners

Education Development: Ellie Hizzett (Durham Univ. BC – Northern Region)
Club Development: Rachel James (Bewdley RC – West Midlands)
Education Performance: Bobby Thatcher (St Paul’s School BC – Thames)
Club Performance: Emma Cox (Looe RC – South West)
Coaching Team: Lea Junior Women (Lea RC – Eastern)

Regional Volunteer of the Year Award winners

East Midlands: Martha Nutkins/Tom Hallett (Derby RC)
Eastern: Deva Mitra (Lea RC)
North West: Timothy Hopkins (Liverpool Univ. BC)
Northern: Brian Webb (Chester le Street ARC)
Thames: Rachael Haycock (Wallingford RC)
WAGS: Clair Ponting (Avon County RC)
West and South East Coast: Garry Saunders (Shoreham RC)
West: Ben Smith (Exeter RC)
West Midlands: Kathryn (Kat) Carlyle (Bewdley RC)

Regional Lifetime Award winners

East Midlands: Robert Laver (Burton Leander RC)
Eastern: John Canton (Peterborough City RC)
North West: Tim Williams (Grosvenor RC)
WAGS: Brian Nelson (Gloucester RC)
West: Dave Godfrey (Bideford ARC)
West Midlands: Dave Perry (Evesham RC)

Regional Rising Star Award winners

Eastern: Callum Gilbey (Peterborough City RC)
North West: Emma Pullan (Northwich RC)
Thames: Harry Peel (Maidstone Invicta RC)
Yorkshire: Oliver Bingham (Leeds RC)

Beryl Crockford Award

Chris Morrell (Windsor Boys’ School BC)

Medal of Merit

Chris Newcombe (Hucknall Rolls Royce Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Group)

Medal of Honour

Annamarie Phelps (Thames RC)

If you are interested in volunteering or coaching in rowing then check out the sections of our website.