Henry Russell-Ross from Beacon Swimming Club won the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award during a ceremony at Birmingham University’s Great Hall on Saturday.
After winning he explained how a couple of years ago he began to appreciate that there were all these adults giving up their time to run the club.
Competitions are very spread out and it’s just a few hours, I don’t mind giving that up to give back to the swimming community because of all that they’ve given to me.
I’ve been a club swimmer since I was eight years old and I really enjoy the sport, so I think it’s a worthwhile use of my time.
It’s been amazing, I’ve really got to grips with how much people do behind the scenes and how much they actually contribute and help the running of clubs.
When I was 13 and swimming, I had absolutely no idea that all these people were doing these extra hours, so it was really good to find out what people actually do and how I could help and contribute.
Swim England is the national governing body for swimming in England, and their awards recognise the contribution made by individuals and organisations from all aquatic sports.
He won the South East award in September and went forward to the national awards as one of eight regional nominees.
Jane Nickerson, Swim England’s CEO, said:
This year we introduced a stronger regional connection, with every finalist selected by their respective region.
Quite simply, you are an inspiration to us all. It gets harder each year to pick one winner as everyone is so deserving of an award.
One thing we can do, though, is be eternally grateful for the dedication everyone shows.
This year the 15-year-old became the youngest British Swimming Level 1 judge in the South East.
Henry explained how he began volunteering:
I started off doing the Youth Volunteers Programme last year.
Since doing that I did all the safe guarding, pool side helping and first aid.
Then I broke my arm in February so I decided ‘well I can’t do swimming so what am I going to do?’
I realised that I could continue my volunteering, so I started my training and gained my first qualification.
Next year, I’m hoping to start the next qualification after my GCSE’s and hopefully do my teaching course as well.”
Beacon was formed in 1976 and is one of Sussex’s leading competitive swimming clubs, offering lifesaving, competitive training sessions and opportunities to swim at competitions and galas. They train at pools in the area including Freedom Leisure at Goldsmiths and St. Leonards School in Mayfield. See their website for more information: www.beaconswimmingclub.co.uk.