Scottish Rugby announces Glasgow South region Community Recognition Award winners
The 2022 Scottish Rugby Community Recognition Award winners from the Glasgow South region have today been announced following their presentation on Friday 1 April.
The Community Recognition Awards is Scottish Rugby’s annual domestic game awards programme, focusing on the on and off-field efforts of clubs and schools across Scotland over the course of the season.
Awards winners were announced for six categories including; Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby, Volunteer of the Season in Schools rugby, Volunteer of the Season in Adult rugby sponsored by Tennent’s Lager, Young Person’s Award, Community Club of the Season sponsored by Tennent’s Lager, and the Community Match Official of the Season.
An additional award, the Adam Gray Memorial Award was presented at the event. This award was created in memory of former Scottish Rugby Board and Council member and Stewartry rugby stalwart Adam Gray, who passed away in March 2020. The award aims to recognise those who have shown an outstanding contribution to the game in the region.
Each winner was presented their award at the Glasgow Warriors fixture against Zebre last night, receiving a personalised trophy and prize.
Scottish Rugby Glasgow South Regional Director, Jennifer Griffin said: “We are so fortunate to have so many fantastic, hardworking and committed volunteers in our region who willingly give their time and effort to clubs and schools across Glasgow South.
“The individuals and groups from within our regional rugby community have truly been a beacon of light as we exited the pandemic and resumed rugby. Our award nominees and winners exemplify the values of our sport.”
Scottish Rugby President, Ian Barr added: “As we approach the end of the domestic season, it is vitally important to recognise and share our gratitude to the countless volunteers within our sport who make what we do not only possible, but special, fun and enjoyable, particularly following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am so pleased that we have been able recognise that impact and say thank you to everyone for their efforts in helping the game bounce back with this year’s Community Recognition Awards.”
Community Club of the Season sponsored by Tennent’s: Annan RFC
Annan RFC have picked up this year’s Community Club of the Season award for their unwavering commitment to local causes and those in need.
Over the course of the last year, Annan have opened their doors at Violetbank, free of charge, to a number of community groups including Early Years Scotland, the local town band and the NHS have used their facilities for community testing during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Recognising the challenges that covid presented to people’s mental wellbeing, the club appointed Laura MacKay to the newly created role of ‘mental health and wellbeing lead’ to their committee. In this role, Laura has been able to advance the dialogue and provide support both to members and the surrounding connected community.
In addition to this, the club have raised thousands of pounds this season for Suicide Bereavement Support for Cumbria and South West Scotland, a volunteer-led charity supporting people who have been impacted by suicide.
Turning to the great-outdoors, this season Annan set out with a mission to reduce their carbon footprint and enhance the surroundings at Violetbank. Using a grant secured by South of Scotland Tree Planting, the club has planted 36 trees and shrubs. The club’s next goal is to install a children’s child play area for families in the local area to enjoy.
Young Person’s Award: Daryl Conway, Carrick RFC
Daryl Conway is described as “a highly motivated individual who has become a massive part of everything at Carrick RFC”.
Daryl volunteers his time every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evening to coaching various youth groups at Carrick RFC and within the wider community, including Girvan Academy.
But it’s not just the weekdays that occupies Daryl’s time. The 18-year-old also dedicates his entire weekend to rugby, playing on Saturday and coaching minis and micros, plus the U16 side when time allows him to do both.
When Daryl isn’t delivering rugby, he’s working hard behind the scenes organising free transport for players from the surrounding areas who may otherwise not be able to attend training. His commitment to ensuring that players are not left behind has done wonders for the club in growing their youth sections.
In a testimonial about Daryl, a spokesperson from the club said: “Daryl is an exemplary young man, who offers so much to his local community, looking for nothing in return and he is an absolute pleasure to work alongside.
“The amount of time he dedicates to helping other young people and making sure that everyone is included is really quite remarkable.”
Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby: Stuart Benzie & Billy McLean, Marr RFC
The Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby award has been shared by Stuart Benzie and Billy McLean from Marr RFC.
Both Stuart and Billy are proud fathers to daughters who play in the mini rugby section at Marr.
The fathers were keen that their girls could continue their rugby journey, and so they decided to set in motion a girls’ rugby campaign to create a pathway for young aspiring players who wish to continue playing.
Stuart and Billy launched their first ‘come and try’ session in the summer of 2021, starting out with 25 players from P4 to P6. Following on from their successful trial, the club expanded their offerings, and they now deliver weekly training for P1-7 girls every Sunday afternoon, with nearly 50 players attending on a regular basis.
To bolster their regular delivery, Stuart and Billy have also organised and delivered seasonal rugby camps, as well as taking players to festivals of rugby.
Stuart and Billy haven’t stopped there. They have also organised an U10 and U12 girls’ rugby festival, hosting over 60 girls from six different clubs from the Glasgow South and Glasgow North region, and they took a cohort of players along to watch their heroes, Scotland Women, take on Japan in Autumn at DAM Health Stadium, an experience they all thoroughly enjoyed.
As the girls set up has grown and evolved, Stuart and Billy have worked hard to recruit new coaches, lobbying parents on a regular basis to get involved. There are now 11 coaches working in the girls’ section now, and the duo have helped each one of them complete their Rugby Right course, PVG application and have provided CPD sessions for all coaches.
In a testimonial about Stuart and Billy, Marr’s president, Stephen Allam said: “The development of girls’ rugby at our club in the space of eight months is simply astounding and is all down to the hard work and dedication of Stuart and Billy.
“From getting the pathway set up to coordinating opportunities for game time, it’s simply been outstanding, and our players have enjoyed every moment.
“There are of course a number of others who have been involved in the development of this programme, but Stuart and Billy are at the heart of everything. We are extremely excited about the future of girls’ rugby at Marr.”
Volunteer of the Season in School rugby: Clare Dooley, Springholm Primary
With covid restricting indoor P.E classes, teacher Clare Dooley decided to introduce rugby to the curriculum at Springholm Primary and their partner schools for the P1 to P7 pupils through Scottish Rugby Schools Week.
The Stewartry Sirens rugby player created a rugby programme to deliver to her pupils which included ball familiarisation drills and game-based practices which led the pupils onto playing touch rugby games.
Clare also provided support for Springholm’s partnership schools to help them coordinate their own activities with confidence.
Whilst Clare could have stopped there, she decided to create a leadership and coaching project to develop the children as future coaches. The project saw pupils ‘coaching’ their classmates during P.E time where they lead the whole lesson including warm up, drills and a touch rugby game.
This project really helped reinforce the pupils’ understanding of rugby, whilst also challenging the more experienced pupils who play their rugby at Stewartry RFC.
In a testimonial about Clare, a spokesperson from Stewartry RFC said: “Clare has always been a keen supporter for Primary schools’ rugby in the Stewartry area. She goes above and beyond to provide positive rugby experiences for all, and as a result we are now starting to see her pupils join us at the club.”
Volunteer of the Season in Adult rugby sponsored by Tennent’s: Allan McMaster, Wigtownshire RFC
After sustaining an injury which put an end to his playing career, Allan McMaster decided to turn his hand to coaching and took up the post of head coach for Wigtownshire’s women’s team.
Since taking up the head coach role, Wigtownshire women’s teams have come on “leaps and bounds", finishing second in the Tennent’s West league this year with five wins from seven under their belt, which the team says is a direct reflection of the work Allan has put in.
Despite the long hours and demands of being a farmer, Allan happily dedicates his time two nights a week to delivering training sessions, which are all meticulously planned, and he is always on the side lines at game day on a Sunday.
In a testimonial about Allan, a spokesperson from the women’s team said: “Allan’s unwavering commitment and drive, has given our team a great sense of self-believe, something we haven’t really felt before. He always makes us believe that we have the strengths and capabilities to do well.
“Allan is one of the most selfless people we’ve ever met. Even in the weeks where numbers for training haven’t been the greatest and when the weather has resembled a monsoon, he turns up. And he turns up for us.
“In the last couple years our girls’ youth section has grown tremendously and we do believe this has a lot to do with the growth and successes of the women’s team. These young girls are the future of our club and Allan is building strong foundations for them to progress into what will now be an ever-lasting team.”
Community Referee of the Season: Greg Cameron, West Referee Society/Kilmarnock RFC
Greg Cameron has been a match official with the West Referee Society for a number of years, but during the Covid-19 pandemic, he decided to join Kilmarnock RFC as a means of keeping up his fitness when restrictions eased enough for touch rugby.
Since then, Greg has remained connected with Kilmarnock and spent much of the pre-season with the men’s team delivering sessions on the new laws, as well as officiating in-house training games to support them with their preparations ahead of the competitive season restarting.
Upon the resumption of competitive rugby, Greg returned to officiating in the National leagues but would continue to support the club with guidance on what referees will be looking out for in the game, and he continued to facilitate officiating in-house games and touch rugby.
More recently, Greg has been delivering the Scottish Rugby ‘Introduction to Match Officials’ course at Kilmarnock, passing on his knowledge and skills to new club referees.
Adam Gray Memorial Award: John Low, Stewartry RFC
John Low, whose nickname is Ludo, has dedicated the last 40 years of his life to Stewartry RFC and picks up the Adam Gray Memorial Award for the outstanding contribution he has made in the region.
As the winner of the memorial award, John was granted the honour of delivering the Glasgow Warriors match ball against Zebre last night.
For the last four decades, John has volunteered his time in just about every capacity possible at Stewartry. From cleaning to maintenance, lining the pitches to cleaning the bar, and serving on the committee as both vice president and president, Ludo’s contribution to the club is extremely admirable.
The former club President can still be found doing many of these tasks today, and he is always pitch-side at every home game to keep the spectators up to date with the scoreboard and taking notes to write match reports for the club and local media.
John has been a championing voice for the many facets of Stewartry, regularly supporting the youth teams and the Stewartry Sirens women’s team.
Whilst the love John has for his own club runs skin deep, he also likes to make sure that neighbouring clubs know that they have a friend in Stewartry. He will always ensure that the club is represented at any relevant events or reach out to others in a time of need. As a result there is said to “be no one better known or respected in rugby circles in the local area than Stewartry's Ludo”.
In a testimonial about John, Stewartry RFC secretary, Iain McDonald said: “Whilst it could have been easy for John to have drifted away from active participation when his playing days ended, he instead simply doubled the effort he put into our wee club.
“John is just the perfect gentleman, and central to every aspect of our club. In my time at the club, I have known him as a listener, arbitrator, but also as a dear friend. The respect our club and other clubs show towards John reflects the respect he has always shown to us.
“Adam Gray and John had huge respect for each other. Adam found John's dedication, enthusiasm for rugby and Stewartry over very many years utterly exemplary, as do I and the many members of our club. I think Adam would be delighted to see John take home this award.”