Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by Zellar

Welcome to the Community Sport and Recreation Awards 2024: Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by Zellar

This award recognises all the hours of commitment that volunteers give to improve the lives of people in their community. Volunteers are the glue that holds the sector together, and the work they continue to do, despite a cost-of-living crisis, is essential to the function of our sector.

Iffat Tejani, Evolve Cycling Network

One of the co-founders of Evolve Cycling Network, Iffat Tejani has demonstrated unwavering dedication and passion for promoting diversity and inclusion within the sport, particularly for Muslim women.

Iffat leads rides for club members and the wider community, accommodating riders of various skill levels from beginner to advanced riders, and has included those from communities, who due to cultural norms, had never ridden a bike until their 60s and 70s. She has also successfully negotiated lower equipment hire prices and extra funding, significantly reducing the financial burden on lots of participants during the cost-of-living crisis.

Iffat’s incredible voluntary contribution has not only promoted diversity, inclusion and accessibility, but also empowered women and boosted activity levels in young people.

Michelle Weltman, London Disability Swimming Club and Out to Swim

As a volunteer, Michelle Weltman has pioneered inclusive approaches to aquatics at elite and participation levels, particularly for the LGBTQ+ and disability swimming communities.

Michelle has volunteered with Out to Swim (an LGBTQ+ swimming club) for over 30 years and the London Disability Swimming Club for 17 years. Over her 30 years at Out to Swim, she has developed programmes focused on: adults learning to swim, adults beginning to learn artistic swimming, masters water polo, women’s only and non-binary sessions, and open water swimming. As a result, the club is now recognised as one of the most influential European LGBTQ+ sports clubs.

After her 17 years’ worth of incredible work at the London Disability Swimming Club, Michelle retired from her role last year to focus more time on Out to Swim.

Penny Shears, Yate Racketeers

Penny has been supporting junior badminton in the Bristol and Avon areas for over 35 years as a volunteer.

When she got involved three and a half decades ago, Downend Junior Badminton Club (now Yate Racketeers) was on the brink of closure due to a lack of funds and volunteers. Since then, Penny has turned its fortunes around through her hard work and infectious enthusiasm, gaining a coaching qualification to help teach youngsters. She set up an annual badminton tournament run exclusively by volunteers so that those who hadn’t played competitively before had the opportunity to play and experience the benefits of the sport.

During her time at the club, she has introduced so many children to badminton, with many going on to play at senior level at other clubs and at county level too.

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