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Brighouse Swimming Club win the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Swim England News

It is the highest accolade given to volunteer groups in the country. Here, Brighouse Swimming Club’s dedicated team tell of their delight at receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

It’s an impressive commitment from the 38-strong band of helpers that help run Brighouse Swimming Club.

Every year, they give up an estimated 5,000 hours of their own time to the Yorkshire-based club.

Now its team of volunteers say they are ‘absolutely delighted’ to find out they have won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups – during Volunteers Week 2020.

Originally founded in 1882 as the Brighouse and Rastrick Amateur Swimming Club and then changing their name in 1895, Brighouse were one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.

Team manager, Siobhan Kaye, said: “It was unbelievable to find out we’d won the award – absolutely amazing.

“I think myself and Kay [Suddick] cried. Just to be recognised for what you do is amazing.

“Even though we’ve got the award it’s not going to change what we do and how we do it because this is just how we are and what we do for the community.

“We just want to make sure that the children have every opportunity that they possibly can.”

“You look at the talent in the water and because we’re such a little club you don’t want them to be missed, so we try to give them every opportunity we can and see how far they can go.

“Over the years, we’ve had swimmers achieving Yorkshire times and ER times. We’ve got para swimmers who are on Olympic pathways.

“To see that improvement and that development is wonderful and that’s why we give up our evenings and our weekends.”

Kay Suddick is the treasurer and also a team manager. She said: “I am absolutely delighted that the club has achieved the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

“We have an amazing team of volunteers which, without, the club would not exist so I want to send my personal thanks to each and every one of our volunteers.

“We are a family club and I am very proud to be part of it”.

The nomination for the award was sent in by parents of the swimmers who attend Brighouse Swimming Club.

“Some of our parents had heard about the award and they went off and did this themselves for us. To be thought about that way by the parents was wonderful,” Siobhan added.

Family club

Brighouse Swimming Club volunteers

The team of volunteers share the workload and rotate hours to ensure that no one is doing too much.

As with volunteers throughout the country, this team are wholeheartedly dedicated to the future of their swimming club.

Siobhan said: “The amount of time our volunteers are giving, it’s their whole evening.

“You’ve been at work all day and sometimes you don’t even have chance for tea. But you’re down at Brighouse Swimming Club teaching and organising the sessions for the evening.

“Our head coach, Brian [Smart], gives up so much of his personal time. We open the club four nights a week so Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Brian is down each of those nights.

“Sometimes, some of us will be away full weekends for competitions up and down the country.

“We’ve got volunteer admin teams, swimming teachers, swimming teaching assistants – they’re generally the older swimmers who give a little bit back to the club.

“They start assisting the teachers with their sessions before they go on to do their levels. We also have parents who volunteer to be the stand back observers.

“They observe the safety of the swimmers in the water while the sessions are going on. We have the usual – committee, secretary, treasurer, president. There’s all sorts of different things.

“My middle daughter has now started volunteering to assist the teachers and is due to take her level one certificate in October and then her level two next year.

“She will be giving back to the club as a voluntary teacher as she received when she was younger. And that’s how we keep the club going.

“We are like a family – we do look after them, we do nurture them, give them every opportunity that we can and that circle comes round.

“My daughter is one of maybe ten future teachers. You’ve got to keep looking at the future and how the club is going to survive.”