Grass roots volunteers honoured at awards ceremony

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Golf Foundation Presidents' Awards held at Wentworth

The dedication and hard work of volunteers who give their time to help youngsters take up golf was honoured at an awards ceremony this week.

With support from the European Tour, the ceremony was held at Wentworth’s Ballroom, where a packed audience heard the stories of nine awards winners and their projects.

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Golf Foundation chief executive Brandon Pyle said: “We all want to encourage more young people into golf. Be it as a coach, volunteer, parent, friend or administrator, we all need to sell the benefits of our sport to young people and to do everything we can to ensure their early experience of golf is a positive one and that they want to stay in the sport.”

“Our annual awards highlight the fantastic work that is being done to make it possible for children and young people to start, learn and stay in golf.”

Pyle welcome former foundation president Bernard Gallacher to the stage to present the awards to people who help the charity deliver its HSBC Golf Roots programme.
‘I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be at Wentworth receiving this award’ The charities most prestigious Sir Henry Cotton Award was presented to Les Hancock, who became a junior organiser at Wolstanton, Staffordshire, in 1967 and has been an inspirational figure ever since.

Hancock said: “I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be at Wentworth receiving this award and I would like to thank all the management, members and the juniors at my club for their support. The work must continue as juniors always need to be encouraged as they are the future of the game.”

The Gallacher Award for ‘Best Volunteer’ was presented to 15-year-old Ali Jodiyawalla who began assisting younger children in golf after attending a Golf Foundation StreetGolf workshop in 2013.

Jodiyawalla assists head PGA coach Aaron Lansberry at his home club of Hatchford Brook in Birmingham. Lansberry said: “Ali is a huge help to me and without his assistance my junior classes would no doubt be less fun and engaging. He is great at introducing new children to the sport and has a fantastic way with young people.”

The Sinclair Award for best PGA professional was given to Ben Kones of Garon Park in Essex, while South Wales PGA pro Nicola Stroud won the Bonallack Award.

Stroud received the award as a result of her partnership with Swansea police to encourage youngsters from poor areas into golf clubs for free coaching.

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She said: “I started playing at the age of 10 and had funding for the coaching from the Golf Foundation, so it is nice to be able to give something back to this charity by helping in this way.”

The Paul Mitchell Golf Academy in Bristol was honoured with the Laddie Lucas Award for encouraging disabled children to play the game, while Royal West Norfolk and Leaming & County were both honoured for their hard work.

The Critchley Award is presented to a major school partnership and in recent years Dartmoor School Sport Partnership, along with Mike Cayless, PGA pro at Dainton Park, has introduced golf to more than 10,000 pupils.

Cardiff City FC Community Foundation and the Valleys Golf Enterprise were presented with the Mackenzie Award after offering golf and football coaching sessions in some of the most deprived areas of the city. Police figures show a dramatic drop in anti-social behaviour during the time of this project.

Golf Foundation chairman Charles Harrison said: “I would like to offer my sincere thanks and great admiration to everyone who is collecting one of our nine awards. This really is a tremendous achievement for all concerned.”

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