A gymnastics volunteer from Croydon has been singled out for national recognition after going above and beyond to save her club.
Kay Ongley, 61, is a coach and volunteer at AllStarz Gymnastics Club and has been shortlisted in the Volunteer of the Year category ahead of the British Gymnastics Awards.
Ongley began volunteering because her daughter was a gymnast at the club but was soon thrown into a pivotal position that saw the fate of the club on her shoulders.
“I don’t volunteer for recognition, but it’s nice to be recognised for what you’ve done and that I’ve made a difference in children’s lives, so I’m thrilled to be nominated for this award,” she said.
“It’s never about the money for me because I’d rather put every penny I can get into the club so that we get good equipment.
“It’s just a family environment and I love being there.
“I started volunteering when my daughter was seven. One day the other parents were doing some fundraising and so I helped make coffees and teas and I had a referral to coaching straight from there really, helping out in the gym for a few years.
“But then I got a phone call from the manager saying that if I didn’t take over the club tomorrow then he would be folding it.
“20 odd years later, here I am with a thriving club.”
The British Gymnastics Awards are community led and about championing those who make the sport an uplifting experience for all, with more nominations than ever before coming in this year.
It is the creativity, dedication and passion from people in the sport that make gymnastics an accessible, inclusive and enjoyable sport for all.
The nominations have been judged by panels made up of British Gymnastics committee members and external panellists from across UK Sport, Gymnova, Milano, Gymaid, Youth Sport Trust, Sport England, Women in Sport, The Include Summit, Sport and Recreation Alliance, The Sport for Development Coalition and GB gymnasts.
With Ongley at the helm, AllStarz Gymnastics have enjoyed a wide range of success over the years, with gymnasts going to national and international competitions.
But Ongley, who worked as a SEND teacher for 22 years, is proud of the impact that the club has at every level of competition and relishes the reward of seeing a gymnast progress – stating it as the reason behind her love for volunteering.
“To me, volunteering is just about seeing someone achieve a move,” she said.
“It doesn’t have to be high level either, if someone comes in and they’re struggling to get something right then we’ll just work with them until they do – seeing the joy on their face, to me is as much reward as seeing somebody go on and win a national title.
“We’re also in an area of really high deprivation so it’s about keeping those students and those gymnasts and giving them something to do. Keeping them off the streets and keeping them motivated.”
The British Gymnastics Awards celebrate those at the heart of gymnastics who create an uplifting experience for all. British Gymnastics has launched a new vision for a new era of gymnastics, learn more about Leap Without Limits here – https://www.british-gymnastics.org/vision