Once you start volunteering, it leads to a wide range of interesting roles and people

When it comes to volunteering, Mike Hesketh has been there and done that.

Mike, a well-known face in the water polo community, was named Swim England Volunteer of the Year at the 2019 National Awards.

Yet his volunteering journey didn’t start with the sport he is now so passionate about.

“Like many children, my daughters were swimmers first with Lancaster City Swimming and Water Polo Club,” said Mike.

“I get bored very easily and thought if I am sitting here whilst the girls are swimming, I might as well get involved.”

He qualified as a timekeeper and swimming judge but soon stopped volunteering in those roles when his daughters, Katie and Laura, switched their aquatic journey from swimming to water polo.

After being team driver and team manager, Mike was taught the basics of table officiating by Duncan Holmes.

A committed volunteer himself, Duncan has just been awarded the British Water Polo League’s Dave Warriner Memorial Trophy, recognising his contribution to the sport.

“Having someone like that teach you the basis was a fantastic experience,” said Mike. “This is where my second officiating journey started and probably the one which has cemented my volunteering in the sport.

“Once you start volunteering, it leads to a wide range of interesting roles and people.”

Key to the future of the sport

As his table officiating grew, he found himself trying his hand at event management.

He is an active member of the BWPL committee and also now take a lead in supporting the organisation of the Swim England NAGS

His latest role is as a member of the Swim England Water Polo Leadership Group under the leadership of Toby King – and he is relishing the challenge of helping to develop the sport.

“It felt like the right time to formalise my role and really impact what we can deliver so I volunteered to become Competitions Lead during this time of change for water polo,” he said.

But he hasn’t forgotten his roots and continues to juggle his new position with table officiating.

He is also a table officials’ presenter, supporting the development of the next generation of officials – and he still helps out as an event manager.

And while volunteers have a vital role to play at every event they attend, Mike believes they can help encourage athletes to stay in the sport as well.

“Encouraging junior players is key to the future of the sport,” he said.

“I want to ensure athletes have a good competition experience and I feel I can contribute to this with all that I have done and experienced during my years as a volunteer.

“A good competition experience, either through running or officiating a great event, helps keep athletes in the water.”

To find out how to start your aquatics volunteering journey, visit our volunteering pages to find out how you can get involved.

A family affair

Mike is not the only Hesketh who gives up his time to volunteer at water polo events.

His wife, Alison, is a table official and daughter Katie is a referee.

“We are a polo family,” he said.

All three of them volunteered at the Swim England National Age Groups Championships in Sunderland last year.