Annual Awards 2019 - meet the winners

29th July 2019

Annual Awards 2019 - meet the winners

The incredible work that goes on in the volleyball community was celebrated as outstanding people were recognised at the Volleyball England Annual Awards 2019 at the weekend.

The Annual Awards presentation took place as part of Club Conference on Saturday and saw nine of the 11 awards winners receive their awards in front of a packed audience. Here we take a look at the special achievements that saw the winners earn their accolades:

Young Coach of the Year – Alice Kenyon   

After stepping into the role of head coach at Tameside Volleyball Club at short notice, Alice Kenyon has been completely committed to driving the club forward. She ensured the well-established club maintained all its teams and coached her teams to success.

The Tameside National Volleyball League team finished 3rd in the Women’s Division 2, the Tameside U18s reached the National Final and Alice also lead the North West Inter Regional squad to the final of the Under 17 championships.

Most of all though, the people who nominated Alice recognised her commitment and the sheer amount of hours she puts into the club. Her nomination highlighted that: “Through her own efforts she has taken the team and club forward, when it could have easily folded.”

Young Volunteer of the Year – Kiana Eskandani

Kiana came to the UK from Iran and had the pressure of being the main English speaker in her family, while also studying to reach university.

She went along to Stockport Volleyball Club as part of her Duke of Edinburgh award and has become a dedicated of the club.

Kiana has played for the women’s team in the local league, gained her Volleyball England referee qualification and officiated in local league and junior matches, as well as been a scorer for the Stockport NVL team.

She was spoken about in glowing terms in her nomination: “Kiana initially came along as a timid but enthusiastic volunteer. She has blossomed into a dedicated, proactive and inclusive Club Member.  An ever present at training and first to put her hand up for any volunteering roles.”

HEVO of the Year - James Morris 

The HEVO for De Monfort University, James has had a brilliant impact on participation in volleyball. "James has managed to get over 60 different individuals to attend the weekly recreational volleyball sessions that he runs and also help to obtain over 40 members for the university volleyball club which is the highest number the club has saw in recent years. The attendance of the volleyball recreational and club sessions are predominantly international students, which is fantastic to see as this type of student does not normally participate in sporting activity whilst at university," enthused his nomination. 

James is commended for personality and talent to keep people engaged in sessions that are truly welcoming and fun. He has extended the impact of his delivering volleyball to creating partnerships and delivering talks on important topics such as mental health. He has maximised the impact of being a HEVO on the students at his univeristy and for his own development. 

Young Official of the Year – Tim Erskine

While being an active volleyball player, Tim is already developing a career in officiating. He regularly referees BUCS matches in Oxford and has been praised for his game management, application of the rules and his desire to gain feedback and improve. His nomination also noted that he will often step into the breach to referee at short notice – which is always appreciated!

Tim takes as many opportunities as he can to get on the stand and is a role model for other referees, as well as people who want to find ways other than playing to enjoy the sport of volleyball.

“He is a role model for other referees in his commitment and willingness to referee whenever he can,” reflected his nomination.

Referee of the Year – Lenny Barry

This year’s honour goes to Lenny Barry, a vastly experienced official who regularly officiates over 50 matches each season.

“A well recognised and respected figure throughout volleyball, Lenny officiates fairly, communicates well with players and does ensure that standards of behaviour are maintained,” reflected the people who put him forward for the prestigious award.

As well as being well-respected throughout the volleyball community, Lenny also takes time to help develop other referees. He tutors the Grade 4 referee course and his nomination highlighted that he always gives his time to offer advice and support to fellow officials. Mentoring and constant development is part of his mantra of volleyball officiating.

Coach of the Year – Richard Osborne

The award goes to a huge figure in the sitting volleyball community. Richard Osborne is the coach of the Invictus Games UK Sitting Volleyball team which he led to a silver medal at the Invictus Games in October.

At home he is also a driving force behind South Hants sitting volleyball club which now has two teams entering the Sitting Volleyball Grand Prix. With their season highlight being picking up a silver medal in the Volleyball England Shield this year.

“Richard expects his teams to play hard and fair, promoting respect for team mates, opposition players, coaches, volunteers and officials,” enthused his nominations.

He is a fantastic ambassador for the sport and is constantly helping to increase awareness and participation. In particular, he shows that sitting volleyball is truly inclusive, being for those with and without disabilities, both genders and all ages.

Serena Morten Safeguarding Award – Lizzie Carrick

This accolade is a new award which is named in memorial of Serena Morten and goes to an individual who represents the values and commitment to safeguarding that Serena displayed over many years in volleyball.

The inaugural winner is Lizzie Carrick, a young coach at Leeds RGA. Having only recently added junior teams at Leeds, Lizzie has worked hard to ensure the club displays safeguarding best practice. She has attended safeguarding training, re-written the club’s junior policies and makes sure that club creates the right environment for its players.

Achieving all of this at such a young age shows she is a credit to herself, her club and the sport – and undoubtedly shows the values that Serena Morten championed.

Volunteer of the Year – Carl Brookes

It’s often said but it is certainly the truth – volunteers are the backbone of volleyball across the country, so this is a very important accolade.

“Carl has been the backbone of volleyball in the West Midlands over the last few years,” explained his nomination.

Carl is head coach at Cleobury Volleyball Club, Chair of Black Country Volleyball Club, coach of an NVL team, coach of junior teams, as well as being the League Manager of the West Midlands Volleyball Association.

He has also taken on the responsibility of helping lead on the progression of youth players in the region too.

Carl gives up so much time that goes into the sport. He also invests in helping develop other coaches, players and juniors so they can get more out of the volleyball. His nomination said the only mystery is how Carl manages to do all this while managing his family-life and full-time job!

Club of the Year – Richmond Volleyball Club

Richmond Volleyball Club is a model of how to develop a high-performing club, on and off court.

Richmond Volleyball Club in South West London has over 300 members and has fostered a culture of excellence and inclusivity. The club competes at the highest level, while maintaining grassroots volleyball for everyone, regardless of their ability, age or gender.

The club has teams in the NVL, has fostered partnerships with local community, displays excellent club governance and has been a real beacon of junior development. In the last 12 months, Richmond won 4 golds and one silver out of the six junior national championships and 17 Richmond players have been part of the England National Talent Pathway.

The club is a superb example of how to build a highly successful and welcoming volleyball environment.

Long Service Award – John Ballance

This is a very prestigious award as it represents someone who has sustained a passion for volleyball and dedication to give to the sport over a long period.

The honour this year goes to a man who began playing volleyball in the 1970’s and got into coaching after playing at university. Over the next decades, John Ballance has become a successful coach and someone who played a vital role in the development of hundreds of volleyball players.

The last 12 months have been as busy as ever, with John often coaching every day, helping to establish a sitting volleyball team, and enjoying success, which has seen his Brookes team gaining promotion and his U16 boys team being crowned national champions. He also continues to develop connections with teams from Europe which he began doing in the 90s.

“One of John’s biggest assets is his ability to learn from others and not to be afraid to bring new ideas to his players,” said his nomination.

Perhaps the most ringing endorsement is how he keeps in touch with so many of his former players and many of them credit John as an inspiration in their careers.

Peter Wardale Memorial Trophy – The Bello Family

The Peter Wardale Memorial Trophy is an honour that is not given out every year, but is decided upon by the Board and awarded to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport of volleyball.

This year the Board decided that there was not just one person deserving of this huge honour, but a family. Luis, Barbara, Javier, Joaquin and Enrique Bello are a fantastic example of a family that are completed devoted to the sport. 

Luis is one of the finest coaches in the country and as well as nurturing talent at Richmond Volleyball Club, also is a key figure in the National Talent Pathway and Junior Beach Programmes. Javier, Joaquin and Enrique have all been top performers on court, representing England indoor and on the beach.

Javier and Joaquin have blazed a trail on the beach, winning gold at the Youth Commonwealth Games and recording a brilliant 5th place in the Youth Olympic Games. They continue to do so much to put English beach volleyball on the map.

Barbara, their mother, is vital in the running of Team Bello. From helping to organise her family in all their volleyball activities, she is also a huge presence in the running of Richmond Volleyball Club and a big contributing factor to them becoming Club of the Year. She is also a great help to the HUB staff when it comes to organising the National teams.

The family do so much to help promote the sport too, whether that is doing interviews, attending events or supporting campaigns. The Bello family are hugely respected in the volleyball community and have made a fantastic contribution and were worthy recipients on this prestigious award.

Annual Awards 2019 - meet the winners