Eleri Spencer, a pupil from Hipperholme Grammar School pupil was among the winners honoured at the annual British Canoeing Volunteer and Recognition Awards last week.
Every year British Canoeing celebrates the fantastic achievements of the volunteer community at the Volunteer and Recognition Awards, and sets out to recognise the volunteers, paddlers and clubs who make the sport what it is today.
Eleri Spencer was awarded Young Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by Wave Sport, an accolade given to a young volunteer who has gone the extra mile in the name of paddlesport.
Her dedication and commitment to volunteering has seen her become a fixture at Pennine Canoe Club.
From representing young members at the club, to consistently being the first to volunteer with ‘less glamorous’ tasks, to coaching paddlesport sessions, Eleri takes young people under her wing and helps to keep them engaged, even coaching fellow pupils at her school and introducing them to paddling.
“Eleri has instilled a positive attitude within her own year group, her talents are fantastic to see and she has given the opportunity to give back to sport. The pupils understand the work she puts in and there’s a lot of respect there for her,” said Matt Crouchman, Eleri’s PE teacher at Hipperholme Grammar School.
Speaking after her award Eleri said: “Volunteering has always been a part of my life and receiving this award has been an honour, it’s amazing.”
Eleri’s passion for paddling has taken her around the world, and her volunteering has taken her beyond Pennine Canoe Club too, taking on voluntary coaching roles at high profile events and more recently Junior Representative roles on several regional paddling committees.
“Without Eleri, many sessions this past year would have been challenging to deliver as we would not have had enough coaches,” said Andrew Carden, Chairman of Pennine Canoe Club.
Eleri’s award was presented to her by fellow Yorkshire woman and ten time World Champion Claire O’Hara.
Claire, from Leeds, is Britain’s most successful Canoe Freestyle athlete and has achieved multiple world records and titles, most recently an MBE for Services to Canoeing in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.
Claire stressed the importance of volunteers within paddlesport and explained how they have been key to her success throughout her career.
“I’ve paddled for over 20 years and at every single stage, what I have done has been down to volunteers.”