Sport Volunteer Award Nominees

Gemma Birkbeck
Gemma has initiated a number of projects, including takeover days for the junior players by Yorkshire Carnegie, a Lords Taverners sports kit recycling scheme whereby she collected boxes of kit to send to the poor, and more recently she has organised a community rugby camp in partnership with Guiseley community foundation. Her passion for rugby makes everyone feel alive and she motivates others to make a difference. She is also a professional photographer, and volunteers her time at almost every senior and junior rugby match to take photos for the benefit of the players and supporters. She is constantly looking for ways to recruit new players and support the existing members to ensure they continue to thrive and enjoy sport. She sits on both committees and regularly takes on other roles to support the club’s growth. In addition to this work, she also manages all of the social media and communications for the club, including press releases, artwork, leaflet design, welcome packs, event flyers and much more. It is clear that Gemma understands the true value of rugby and being part of a team, and she wants to do everything possible to ensure others know it too. If there is something happening at the club, Gemma is at the forefront of it.

Gemma has made a huge difference to the club and it is recognised by all.

She may be a volunteer, but from her outstanding dedication and results, you wouldn’t think so.

In Gemma’s most recent recruitment campaign she secured four new members and 28 children to attend a rugby camp in the space of just a week and a half. She is a true hard worker and representee of the core values of rugby.

Amanda Bell
As a former player with Leeds United (LUFC) Ladies some years ago, Amanda jumped at the chance of putting something back into the sport she loves, when three years ago the opportunity became available to join LUFC Ladies as a volunteer coach. As part of this she spends in excess of eight hours per week coaching and assisting on match days. Amanda is currently an assistant coach with the current U18s team and recently completed her Level 1 coaching certificate. Last season she helped guide them to a treble winning season (League, League Cup and County Cup) and the girls are currently on target to repeat a similar level of success this season. Amanda is a fantastic role model for the girls to emulate, having played at the level that they aspire to, and is an inspirational member of the LUFC coaching staff.

Marzena Makowska
Marzena is a mother of two children, she is a very caring wife, and she works (currently on maternity leave) at York Sports Village. In addition to all this, she has completed a coaching course in volleyball and supported junior sessions before having a baby, and coaches at York Volleyball Club (YVC).  She is also secretary to one of the YVC teams.

With her husband, she started a beach volleyball competition in Bridlington three years ago and last year established a Skyball beach volleyball club. Everything she touches turns into success.

Five years ago she helped and led the registration of YVC women’s team to become part of the  Volleyball England organisation. She makes people feel welcome and comfortable when they join the team. The team is now in Second Division North.

She always smiles, she listens to others, she is very caring and whilst bringing up two beautiful children she has found time to achieve things for other people with passion, care and love.

Kirsty Midgley
Kirsty volunteers so much of her time helping women learn to run and cycle. She has helped hundreds of women start their running journey, volunteering twice a week to lead Couch to 5k run session in Leeds for Leeds Girls Can. She started her fifth program recently, and she goes out twice a week in sun, rain, hail and snow to motivate the group. In addition to this, she volunteers weekly at a women’s only cycle ride, and has spent countless hours looking for and begging coaches to give up their time to help teach women to ride and gain confidence. She also volunteers at the Let’s Ride Pop Up for British Cycling to make sure there is a safe place for families to cycle.

She is the first person to put up her hand to help out at local sporting events and volunteers in schools to help young girls learn to run (with a program similar to Couch to 5k for schools).   She is now on a mission to gather used, unloved sportswear from wardrobes around the country to give back to people who cannot afford new kit, but want to take part in sports. She is passionate about breaking down the barriers that keep women and girls out of sport.