Hayley wins award after helping people to keep on running through pandemic
- Credit: Brittany Woodman
Volunteer run leader Hayley Howard has won a top award after inspiring people to enjoy the sport despite lockdown.
The 43-year-old, from Kesgrave, only started her role with Rushmere Community Runners (RCR) about a year ago.
She was nominated by the club for regional leader of the year at the England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards, which were held online this year due to Covid - and said she was amazed to win.
"I am still in shock," said Hayley, who sees the prize as recognition for the whole club.
"I feel very humbled, because all of the other leaders are absolutely amazing. We are all volunteers."
As a self-employed accountant and mum of nine-year-old Laura, Hayley has a busy life, but says making time for running is important.
"Running is so good for people's mental health, and it has become even more important during Covid.
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"We all need to find time to do something that we love doing. You never regret going for a run, even if you don't feel like it before you go," she said.
Rushmere Community Runners meet twice a week at Ipswich School Sports Centre and encourage all abilities and levels of experience, with the leaders and coaches ensuring everyone can run at the right pace.
During lockdown, they were determined to keep going, so Hayley and the other leaders went online to encourage club members.
They created resources including captioned YouTube videos to help deaf members stay in touch.
A spokesperson for the club said: "The members, leaders and committee at RCR are very proud of Hayley's achievement. She is an invaluable member of our amazing leadership team and we wish Hayls all the best for the national final in January."
One RCR member said: "Hayley inspires me and everyone else she leads to perform at their highest level. Always smiling, positive and putting others first, even if this means sacrificing her own run."
Hayley will now go forward to the national awards in January - and her regional trophy will be presented at a club night.
As well as running with the club, Hayley ran the London Marathon this year for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, raising around £3,000.
She has also done two runs for Parkinson's UK, one in 2015 after her dad was diagnosed with the condition, raising £500, and another in 2019, raising £700.
For more details about Rushmere Community Runners, visit the website.