Community Recognition Award Winners for Glasgow South Region Announced

Community Recognition Award Winners for Glasgow South Region Announced

The Community Recognition Award Winners for the Glasgow South region have today been announced.

The Community Recognition Awards are 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.

Award winners were announced for six categories including; Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby sponsored by inspiresport, Volunteer of the Season in Schools rugby sponsored by inspiresport, Volunteer of the Season in Adult rugby, Young Person’s Award, Community Club of the Season, and the Community Referee of the Season.

An additional award, the Adam Gray Memorial Award is presented to the Glasgow South region. 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.

Glasgow South Regional Director Alan Falconer said:

“The backbone of our Rugby community lies in the dedication of our volunteers, whose passion ensures our game continues to thrive. Every volunteer’s time and effort is devoted to nurturing a sustainable and growing rugby environment for the benefit of our young people in Glasgow South. We are incredibly grateful for your invaluable contributions to Club and School Rugby”. 

Scottish Rugby President, Colin Rigby added:

“As we approach the end of the domestic season, it is really important that we 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.

“We again received hundreds of applications to the Community Recognition Awards this year, and although it was a tough job for the Regional Panels to narrow it down to the winners, it shows how many people in Scottish rugby are noticed and appreciated for all they do, and personally, I cannot thank them enough.”

The respective award winners are listed below:

Volunteer of the Season in Youth Rugby, sponsored by inspiresport- Robert McIlvenna (Irvine RFC)

Robert has benefitted Irvine Rugby Club in multiple ways over the past decade, as well as his local community. In the last 18 months he has taken on the role of Youth Convenor, alongside his existing position on the club committee.

Robert joined forces with Ayrshire Active Schools to work with Primary 7 pupils through the 2023 Rugby World Cup, running a six-week rugby programme which aligned with the curriculum. While promoting the sport, Robert also created strong relationships between the club and the local schools. His work in the Kilwinning area in-line with the Six Nations culminated in a mini-festival to promote sportsmanship and fair play amongst schools.

Robert has used his proactive approach to create partnerships, such as coupling with KA Leisure for their Inspire program. This brought three blocks of six-week indoor rugby sessions to a P1-7 audience through the winter months. Robert’s contributions have improved the outreach of the club and have promoted the overall game of rugby within the community. His efforts to grow coaching numbers have paid off, with Irvine now boasting 16 youth coaches, expanding from the original six. He has encouraged these coaches to gain certifications, which all will have by end of April. This enhances the coaching structure and the quality of coaching which is delivered.

Furthermore, the communications between parents and the club have been strengthened by Robert’s introduction of the SPOND app for the organisation of training and games. The app has made communication within the club run smoothly, providing real-time updates on club goings-on to parents and coaches.

“Robert’s friendly and enthusiastic nature shines through, particularly when he engages in conversations about rugby. His passion for the sport is evident, and once he starts talking about rugby, he can captivate and hold the attention of others for extended periods. This enthusiasm contributes positively to the club’s atmosphere, fostering a shared love for the game among members. active participation in attending senior games, supporting both the men’s and women’s teams, demonstrates his commitment to fostering a sense of camaraderie and unity within the club. In addition to his presence at games, Robert’s involvement in organizing social events plays a key role in maintaining a healthy and friendly club environment.”- Victoria Frater.


Volunteer of the Season in Adult Rugby- Beverley Addison (Greenock Wanderers RFC)

Women and Girls Vice-President Beverley has led on all things in female rugby within the club. She took on the role in July 2023 after she retired as captain of the women’s team, where she excelled. At the time of her introduction, there were approximately 25-30 women training and playing. Fast forward six months and numbers have doubled, peaking at 68 at one training session. All Beverley’s work within the club is on top of her daily profession as a lawyer.

Last summer’s Women’s Bootcamp set the ball rolling for this exponential growth in the women’s game at Greenock Wanderers. Gathering sponsors for the event ensured it was free to participants, culminating in over 60 women taking part over the four weeks that it ran. Beverley gained contact details for every participant, selling the club to the players, and ensuring that they felt part of something. Nicolle Hunter- now a member of GWRFC, said “Bootcamp was an absolute game changer for me! Having never played rugby and being new to Inverclyde I was welcomed with open arms. I am fitter and now have friends for life”.

Off the back of the event, a second women’s team and a social touch rugby group was formed to accommodate numbers, with the second team now playing alongside the first team in cup competitions. To help bed in the new members, Beverley organised a transition week with senior women’s players, with medals, pizza and a social in the clubhouse following a large touch rugby tournament. Participation at youth levels of female rugby have improved also, with successful U12, U14, U16 and U18 age groups. Beverley inspires those that she trains to show their best and hopes that this work will see the female game go from strength to strength in years to come.

Beverley’s work hasn’t stopped there, as she keeps driving forward Greenock Wanderers’ club development plan. She was also invited to present at Scottish Gas Murrayfield promoting club development and women in rugby. As a result of her outstanding work with Greenock, several clubs have contacted her seeking advice on how to grow the women’s game in their community, where she has gladly lent advice.

“Beverley’s commitment to the club is unmatched and the amount she has done to grow and develop the club has been outstanding. She was one of the main people involved in creating the Club Development plan which has been a success leading to every other success we have had within the club. Her love of rugby shows with the amount of time she has given to growing the women and girls game within the club”- Graham Knox- Vice-President of Rugby at Greenock Wanderers RFC.

“Beverley is the go-to person for all the players male and female. She listens, supports, helps and is an absolute confidante. I for one many times have had great support and advice from her. Nothing is a problem.  Her vision for the future for Woman in rugby is a huge part of her life. Having a vision is one thing implementing is another. Beverley is brave, determined, intelligent and super organised. Going above and beyond is what she does”- Clare Nicholson- Development Officer at Greenock Wanderers RFC.


Volunteer of the Season in Schools Rugby, sponsored by inspiresport- Kevan McCrorie (St Matthews Academy)

Kevan has spearheaded the development of a new rugby system at St Matthews Academy. He receives this award for School Rugby Volunteer of the Season for his tireless efforts towards organising all aspects of the project.

Since taking the helm of the rugby offering, Kevan has implemented a consistent after-school club for pupils, as well as regular trips outwith school to compete at rugby festivals across the north of Ayrshire. His work to organise all the associated logistics such as buses, teams and accompanying staff allows pupils to attend these festivals frequently.

Further to his work co-ordinating festival attendance, Kevan single-handedly drove the proposal for a school of rugby at St Matthews Academy. After suggesting the idea himself, Kevan pushed for the idea and helped writing the proposal to St Matthews’ Head Teacher, which was ultimately accepted. Since the acceptance, Kevan has heavily driven the recruitment for the School of Rugby.

Last month, alongside the area’s ActiveSchools co-ordinator Kevan organised St Matthews’ very own rugby festival for Primary 7 pupils. This was purely a touch rugby event which aimed to encourage those making the transition to the school this autumn to consider joining the School of Rugby.

“Kevan is always pushing and striving for new ways to increase the rugby within his schools. He’s also been using rugby to engage pupils who might otherwise never engage in school. He uses his caring and calming demeanour and his drive to give his pupils a chance to develop their social and emotional skills through rugby”- Alan Rice.


Volunteer of the Season in Schools Rugby, sponsored by inspiresport- Glen Brown (Girvan Academy and Carrick RFC)

Joint-winner Glen has given up vast amounts of time over the last 12 months, working to grow the state school rugby offering in Girvan. His attitude towards creating a welcoming and fun environment for rugby at Girvan Academy has paid dividends, allowing the growth of the sport in the school.

Rugby at Girvan Academy has become wholly inclusive, with a fully established girls’ side now active and competing with other local schools. The move to align Girvan Academy with Carrick RFC girls hopes to expand the playing opportunities for those at the school. This is another result of Glen’s work, aiming to open avenues for all pupils to take part and improve within rugby. Despite working within Girvan Academy, Glen has had a profound impact on the area’s club game by creating positive relationships and providing promising future players a route into the club game.

Glen is equally committed to growing the male game within Girvan Academy, devoting a substantial amount of time towards promoting and encouraging participation amongst pupils. This work has seen the creation of an U15/16s boys team that participated in their first two fixtures in the weeks prior to Christmas. Glen’s dedication has increased the popularity of rugby within Girvan Academy, driving numbers up in both boys and girls rugby. Between coaching, logistical organising and taking up the role of bus driver, he allows students access to a plethora of opportunities.

Speaking on Glen’s award, Carrick RFC Rugby Development Officer Aiden Strachan said: “Glen has been a real asset to both club and school and due to this, it was felt best to highlight his hard work and immense dedication towards youth rugby. Glen is a huge team player and always puts his hand up to help whether it is for Girvan Academy or Carrick RFC and present himself well in doing so. Always searching for new tasks, it is an absolute pleasure to work alongside Glen”.


Young Person’s Award- Norman Stephens (Ayrshire Clan)

Norman has been chosen for this award for his commitment and growth within the Ayrshire Clan. He has been part of the team for the past five years but has stepped up his responsibilities over the last couple of seasons. This consists of being part of the leadership core, while taking on some coaching duties. Originally, it entailed setting up cones and taking part in the warm-up but has since escalated as Norman’s confidence has grown.

Last summer, Norman strayed into the coaching world as he attended a Coaching Essential course. This paved the way for him to acquire his first coaching qualification and bolster his confidence even more. Norman has since been able to lead a full session, while stepping up to support the coaching staff when needed.

Norman’s is seen as a role model by those around him at the club. His growth and development as an individual are a result of his ability to step outside his comfort zone and challenge himself. Taking a leap into a leadership role was a test for Norman, but it is a position which he is currently excelling in, which shows his development.

“Thanks to his hard work Norman has put in his selection to the Mixed Ability Rugby Invitational Team which only selects players that follow its values of commitment, rugby spirit, work ethic and passion, which Norman has in abundance”- Alan McEwan.


Community Club of the Season- Annan RFC

Annan RFC have continued to grow all areas of their playing membership. During season 22/23, the player base of the club increased by an astonishing 33%, split evenly between both male and female members. They have also re-introduced their walking rugby sessions, which have attracted huge interest from the community. In addition to work on the pitch, Annan have continued to aid numerous charities and have been an avid supporter of Tartan Touch.

Over the last year, the female game at Annan has made significant strides forward. The U16 girls team was successful in lifting the National Sheild at Murrayfield in December, while two of the club’s U18 girls, Niamh Ross and Zoe Mitchell, were selected to travel to Prague in July to turn out for the seven’s U18 squad. Further to these selections, several U16 and U18 level players have been chosen to represent the West of Scotland regional squad.

The club have extended their walking rugby offering, providing more inclusion to those who want to get involved in the game. Rather than take a winter break when outside training wasn’t possible, the group has continued to train in an indoor capacity. The sessions provide the chance for people of all abilities and ages to socialise and earn the benefits of playing in a relaxed environment. The Walking Rugby Festival, run by the club, returned on February 17. Many of the participants are past players and/or those who are involved with the club at volunteer level, but it has attracted some interest from outside.

Multiple charities have benefitted from Annan RFC’s fundraising over the past 12 months. One of these charities is the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, who have received funds from several events from Annan RFC. A New Year’s Day ‘Dook’ raised £1,340, where 150 hardy souls braved the cold Solway Firth. Annan also had a participating team in the Doddie555 cycle from Cardiff to Murrayfield, while a Farmer’s Select XV Vs Stirling County match on January 2 raised even more funds for Doddie’s Foundation. Aside from rugby, Annan have also been involved in free car boot sales and have done work with local care homes. In December, players and supporters donated food items to local charities Annan Day Centre, Kate’s Kitchen and The Food Train. Supporting local organisations is fundamentally important to Annan RFC, who also allow their premises to host council meetings alongside other group meetings.


Community Referee of the Season- Hannah Stewart (Dumfries Saints RFC)

Hannah picks up Match Official of the Season for going above and beyond for Glasgow South. Refereeing across multiple regions, Hannah packs out her calendar by officiating matches in both the West and East societies on top of the South. This season, Hannah has taken her referee learning abroad and has officiated with different rugby unions across the globe to broaden her knowledge in the position.

The impact Hannah has made at Dumfries Saints Rugby Club has been unique. Not only does she help the refereeing side of things, but she also fulfils a coaching role with the girls’ team as well as physically playing within the Dumfries Saints Women’s Team. Her willingness to pass her knowledge onto youth players has meant she has made a positive impact on those she has spoken to. As well as teaching players the rules of the game, she advises the best approach towards building positive relationships with referees, having had experience on both sides as a player and official. This is something not many teams have the beneficiary of, so the value of Hannah’s input to the younger generation is of high regard.

Speaking on Hannah’s work at Dumfries Saints, Dominic Stewart- of the club’s rugby development department said: Hannah has a real love for refereeing which is rare to see especially with someone so young. She looks to expand her knowledge constantly but looks to increase the knowledge of the people around her and develop the game at all age groups. Our players all love her happy personality and she is proof to our girls that opportunities are available to everyone if they show as much passion and determination as Hannah does.

As a young referee, Hannah has encountered challenges as she broadens her view and takes charge of high-level senior games. So far, she has comfortably dealt with any issue thrown her way and continues to look for ways to improve her performance. As her season has progressed, Hannah has been trusted with more responsibilities, highlighting the strength of the work she has done already.


Adam Gray Award- Billy Henderson (Annan RFC)

Billy truly is rugby through and through.

His work as Annan Rugby’s Youth Girls’ Lead Coach for the past seven years sees him receive the Adam Gray Award this year. He started his affiliation with the club 40 years ago, where he made 245 appearances as a Colt. Once it was time to hang his boots up, Billy continued his involvement with the club as a committee member, as well as carrying out countless maintenance jobs which included the construction Violebank Pavilion in the late 1990s.

Billy’s coaching journey began when his daughter Ellie joined the club as a youth player. Even though Ellie has been out of the girl’s setup for four years, Billy has continued to be committed to his role, for which he currently delivers 2-3 sessions weekly, as well as attending weekend fixtures and festivals. He encourages players to take advantage of the opportunities that rugby presents, an attitude that contributed to three players being called into the Scottish U18 Futures setup.

Going above and beyond for every player is what Billy does regularly. He volunteered to drive the 150-mile round trip so three Futures players- Ellie, Zoe and Niamh could attend training sessions in Grangemouth. Further down the line, Billy and his wife Angela accompanied the latter two and their families to Prague when they were selected to represent the U18 Sevens Squad. Billy and Angela have also travelled to Shetland to help fulfil league fixtures and Scottish Gas Murrayfield to assist at the National Shield Final.

Players who have been coached by Billy are regularly called into Scotland regional squads. Billy has also enhanced the player experience by organising trips for the girls to learn from watching higher level rugby. There have been several trips to watch Scotland Women’s U20 fixtures, all on Billy’s free weekends, where he is supposed to be released of work and rugby commitments.

Any excuse is a good excuse for Billy to get his hands back on a rugby ball. This was a catalyst for him founding the Coll Annual Beach Rugby Tournament, which now takes place on the first weekend in August. The event has continued to grow in popularity, bringing in groups from all over the UK. Billy has also done his share of fundraising, captaining the Scottish Farmer’s Select XV team to raise funds for Doddie’s Foundation, as well as accompanying Rob Wainwright on the Doddie555 Charity ride. For causes closer to home, he organises an annual supporters day to raise as much money as possible for Annan Rugby.

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