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Two hard-working volunteers have been recognised for their efforts in promoting badminton at the 2021 YONEX Volunteer of the Year Awards.

Held in September, this year’s awards looked largely at volunteers’ contributions and ongoing commitment to the sport in the face of the pandemic.

Awards were targeted to those who had used new and innovative methods to keep people interested and engaged during lockdown periods, with a Volunteer of the Year Award and Geoff Rofe Young Volunteer of the Year handed out.

The winner of the Volunteer of the Year Award, sponsored by YONEX, was Claire Lapworth, who runs Ryton Junior Badminton Club.

Alongside her job in a school for children with disabilities, Lapworth runs the club which now has over 20 junior members.

During various lockdowns she filmed fun challenges posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep members engaged, and also dropped off equipment provided by Tyne & Wear Sport at members’ homes so they could continue to play.

In addition, Lapworth set up online competitions for members and their families and arranged small back-to-court sessions last October at Tyneside Badminton Centre to allow children to socialise with each other.

She has previously won a Tyne & Wear Sport #PassOnYourPassion Award for her work in keeping people engaged during lockdown.

The Geoff Rofe Young Volunteer of the Year Award, sponsored by YONEX, was awarded to William Snell, who volunteers for North Wiltshire Badminton Project.

Having started volunteering at primary school sessions at a young age, Snell also started volunteering four times a week at other foundation sessions run by the club.

He did this alongside training three times a week and representing the club in the local junior league and Bronze junior circuit competitions.

People at the club noted that Snell’s badminton has improved since he began volunteering, and that he has grown in confidence.

Snell continued to shadow coaches and volunteer when badminton returned to the court after lockdown and hopes to become a qualified coach one day.

The YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships return to Utilita Arena Birmingham with the best players from around the world from 16th – 20th March 2022.

Don’t miss out, get your tickets today.

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