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Runaway success for Community Sports Volunteer of the Year

While most bright ideas in the pub are forgotten by the morning, Cathy Rooney's resulted in 150 women in Nottinghamshire taking up running, many for the first time.

And to acknowledge her innovation and tenacity, earlier this month Cathy was named Sport England's Community Club Volunteer of the Year at the Sunday Times 2009 Sports Women of the Year Awards.

"In January 2009 a group of friends were sitting in the Vale pub chatting over a pint and some pork scratchings about how they wanted to get fit and tone up ," said Cathy. "I offered to take them out running and that was it, the Woodthorpe Huffers and Puffers was born."

Less than 11 months after launch, this community club now boasts 150 female runners. A beginner’s course launched in April attracted nearly 100 women and there have been numerous personal success stories since. Women who could barely run for a minute are now entering 10km races and successfully completing half marathons.

"We are affiliated to UK Athletics, have qualified some volunteer jog leaders, worked with England Athletics and Gedling Borough Council, set up a committee and a constitution and started charging members," said Cathy. "Although we were getting ‘professional’ we wanted to stick to our roots by offering social, recreational jogging and running in a supported environment. "

Cathy's puts her success down to her using her own personal experience to encourage beginners to take the plunge. Her friendly and simple advice about all the aspects of running, from adopting the correct running technique to emphasising the fun the members have when they run together, engages all types of women to take part and stay involved.

“It’s volunteers like Cathy who drive sport,” said Sport England Chief Executive Jennie Price. “They don’t just have the initial idea, they also have the determination and commitment to make it a reality – and then keep on making it happen week after week. I’d like to congratulate Cathy, not just on winning this well-deserved award, but on making a difference to the lives of so many women. It’s a fantastic achievement.”

Now in their 22nd year, the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards celebrate the role women play throughout the whole of sport - at school, in the community and on the world stage.

Sport England’s support for this event is a reflection of our commitment not just to increase the overall numbers of people taking part and succeeding in sport, but to increase its appeal to sections of society that may be overlooked by traditional approaches to sport.

Winners alongside Cathy included:

  • Caroline Sidell from South Bromsgrove High in Worstershire - PE Teacher of the Year
  • Record-breaking triple ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington - Sportswoman of the Year
  • World champion English women’s cricket team - Team of the Year
  • Paralmpian pursuit cyclist, Sarah Storey MBE - Disabled Sportswoman of the Year
  • England’s women’s football manager, Hope Powell - Sports Leader of the Year

Find out more about this year’s winners


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