Shoreham Rowing Club Captain Garry Saunders has been named as British Rowing’s West & South East Coast Volunteer of the Year 2018 at its recent National Volunteer of the Year Awards.

The Awards, run by the UK governing body for rowing aims to recognise the efforts of an army of volunteers around the country who are integral to the success of the sport at grass roots level and beyond. 

Guest speaker at the event, Zoe de Toledo, cox of the GB women’s eight which won an historic silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics said “Its a great privilege to be able to present these prizes at the Volunteer and Coach of the Year Awards. The people we are honouring today are the backbone of our sport, form grass roots all the way through to high performance. “All of us remember not only our first coach, but also the people who made the biggest impact on us in our sport, whether they are coaches or volunteers, or both. I have some huge admiration for those who turn up week in, week out, in rain, wind, and snow, to encourage participation in rowing. Thank you for everything you do.”

Guest speaker at the event, Zoe de Toledo, cox of the GB women’s eight which won an historic silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics said “Its a great privilege to be able to present these prizes at the Volunteer and Coach of the Year Awards. The people we are honouring today are the backbone of our sport, form grass roots all the way through to high performance. “All of us remember not only our first coach, but also the people who made the biggest impact on us in our sport, whether they are coaches or volunteers, or both. I have some huge admiration for those who turn up week in, week out, in rain, wind, and snow, to encourage participation in rowing. Thank you for everything you do.”

Will McGrath, Chairman of Shoreham Rowing Club spoke of his pride at Shoreham’s captain being singled out by British Rowing. “We are an entirely volunteer-run club, no paid coaches, no salaried staff to keep our boats in good working order, and yet we’ve had junior rowers enjoying success competing for their country at an international level, we’ve had representation at prestigious events such as Henley Royal Regatta, we’ve won the coveted ‘Bideford Bowl’ – the  South Coast mens senior coxed fours championship – more times than any other club and our current cohort of senior women have been unbeaten for the last six years. “Garry has played a pivotal role in many of these successes and we are extremely proud that the huge commitment he has given to the club in time spent coaching, towing boats to regattas, organising crews and developing junior members has now been recognised on a national level.”

Will McGrath, Chairman of Shoreham Rowing Club spoke of his pride at Shoreham’s captain being singled out by British Rowing. “We are an entirely volunteer-run club, no paid coaches, no salaried staff to keep our boats in good working order, and yet we’ve had junior rowers enjoying success competing for their country at an international level, we’ve had representation at prestigious events such as Henley Royal Regatta, we’ve won the coveted ‘Bideford Bowl’ – the  South Coast mens senior coxed fours championship – more times than any other club and our current cohort of senior women have been unbeaten for the last six years. “Garry has played a pivotal role in many of these successes and we are extremely proud that the huge commitment he has given to the club in time spent coaching, towing boats to regattas, organising crews and developing junior members has now been recognised on a national level.”

Garry and Emma Young 2006

Saunders, 51, who has been a member of Shoreham Rowing Club since he was 16, has been the driving force behind several of the club’s recent junior rowers attending trials to join the GB junior rowing team – with past Shoreham GB successes including a gold medal at the Youth Olympics in Sydney in 2013 and a bronze medal at the Coupe de la Jeunesse in Amsterdam in 2006.
He said “I am very pleased, and very surprised to have received this award. Shoreham Rowing Club has been part of my life for so many years that I couldn’t imagine not being part of the community here. When I was 16 my father took me and some friends out on the water for the first time. I loved it and I have not looked back.”For me, taking a leading role in the club is about people having opportunities to progress, to gain confidence and to realise their potential.”
Saunders collected his award on Monday at a special ceremony and reception at the iconic River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames. Presenting the awards were Mark Davies (Chair of British Rowing), Phil Hornsey (Director of Membership & Rowing Community at British Rowing), Sarah Harris (Head of Education & Training at British Rowing) and Olympic silver medallist Zoe de Toledo. 
Hornsey said of the awards “It was a real privilege to be among so many of the people who make rowing the sport we all love. On behalf of the rowing community I’d like to say how grateful we are for the passion, commitment and energy of not just our awards winners, but of every volunteer and coach in rowing, at every level of the sport – you really do make it all possible”.

Written By Sarah Faith