Community Recognition Awards 2022: Caledonia Midlands
The 2021 Scottish Rugby Community Recognition Award winners from the Caledonia Midlands region have today been announced following their presentation on Saturday 26 March.
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, Young Person’s Award, Community Club of the Season sponsored by Tennent’s, and the Community Match Official of the Season.
Each winner was presented their award at the Scotland Women TikTok Six Nations fixtures against England on Saturday, receiving a personalised trophy and prize.
Scottish Rugby Caledonia Midlands Regional Director, Steve Turnbull said: “We often say in sport that volunteers are the lifeblood of the game. Following on from the impact of covid-19, that hasn’t just been a saying. The hard work from volunteers in the Caledonia Midlands region has really helped to reignite the rugby spark.
“We’re extraordinarily proud of all our winners, indeed all of our nominees. The commitment and passion that came through from the nomination submissions was truly inspirational.”
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.”
The respective award winners and nominees are listed below:
Community Club of the Season Award sponsored by Tennent’s: Bo’ness
Bo’ness RFC have been named as this year’s Club of the Season for the Caledonia Midlands region.
Having only formed ten years ago, the club has quickly become a focal point within the local community, bringing together vast numbers of men, women and young people to enjoy rugby.
With a well-established men’s team, who currently play in the Tennent’s Caledonia Division 4 league, the club have spent a great deal of time and energy expanding their offering to women and children this season.
Starting with the delivery of non-contact fitness sessions, the club now has a regular cohort of 30 women playing rugby. Players have since gone on to enjoy their first taste of contact rugby, participating in various Game Play Opportunity events hosted by Scottish Rugby in the region.
On a mission to diversify and promote inclusion, the club spent this season creating social stories and emotion cards to support young children with additional needs to get involved in playing rugby with their peers.
The creation of these assets has helped one child in particular, who is non-verbal, to better communicate with the coaches and now attends rugby sessions on a regular basis, and it’s helped to grow their own confidence tenfold.
Over the course of the season, the club’s off-field efforts have been equally has admirable.
During the Christmas period Bo’ness helped deliver more than 300 meals to vulnerable people in the community, and they also raised over £7,000 for My Name’5 Doddie Foundation through challenges including: walking the equivalent distance between of the national stadiums for the Six Nations, a charity 7s tournament and climbing Ben Nevis.
Young Person’s Award: Ciera Campbell, Strathendrick RFC
Ciera Campbell of Strathendrick RFC has won this year’s Young Person’s Award and was nominated by the club for her “inspirational and committed efforts in coaching” in her local community.
Although only 24-years of age, Ciera has been honing her skills and craft as a coach for the last six years, first starting out as Modern Apprentice coach with Balfron High School.
Ciera has been credited for playing an instrumental role in developing young boys and girls at Balfron High and taking up their rugby with the local club at Strathendrick.
This season Ciera has moved into the role of Head Coach for the Strathendrick men’s section. This new role came about when she was approached by the team captain, who she has previously coached at U18 level.
Described by Strathendick President Jeremy Pemberton-Pigott as a “home-grown talent and excellent coach”, Ciera has been a driving force in helping the men’s section overcome a number of challenges on the pitch this season, and despite suffering a broken ankle from playing herself, she has continued to deliver high energy training sessions and has demonstrated inspirational leadership at matches.
Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby: Stefan Elertowicz, Strathmore RFC
Stefan Elertowicz of Strathmore RFC has spent the year focussing on providing a quality rugby experience for hundreds of boys and girls across the Angus area, earning him the Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby award.
One of Stefan’s biggest undertakings this season has been supporting the reformation of the Angus Colts, which sees a number of local clubs across Angus come together to provide U18 boys a team set up, allowing them to play competitively in a safe and fun environment.
Working with each club, Stefan has coordinated training sessions and games, kit, transport, and catering, ensuring each club has an equal input into the delivery for the team.
Calum Bruce, youth coach with Carnoustie RFC said: “What Stefan has done for the Angus Colts this year has been amazing. The team has been a huge success and he has led from the front.
“The boys have loved it and the coaches, parents and players really appreciate all the work he has put in to make this team such a success. I’m not sure how he does it with all his work commitments, but the time he spends delivering rugby and supporting our youngsters at the club and within the local community is just quality.”
Stefan’s commitment to the sport hasn’t stopped there, as he has also led the creation of a specific girls’ section at Strathmore. Working with local schools, Stefan has been rolling out a three-phase campaign of taster sessions designed to recruit and retain girls within the sport.
There are now more than 170 young players involved in the Strathmore youth section, and the club credit Stefan’s drive and commitment for that growth.
Bob Baldie, President Strathmore RFC said: “Stefan oozes family and rugby values. He is a dependable guy who is ready to help anyone that asks. He has truly excelled himself this season, helping to remove barriers for young people to play rugby, and he absolutely deserves this award and recognition.”
Volunteer of the Season in School rugby: Steven McCooey, Balfron High School
Along with a full-time demanding job as a policeman, Steven McCooey (40) has taken on four key roles at Balfron High and Strathendrick RFC to help increase participation for young people, which is why he is this year’s Volunteer of the Season in School rugby.
Steven has been described as a man who’s “infectious enthusiasm and dedication to rugby has been pivotal to the growth of grassroots rugby at Balfron High School and Strathendrick RFC”.
Working with Balfron High School and seven other Primary schools in the catchment area, Steven has been delivering rugby to young boys and girls and helping to build teams to play at both a local and national level.
This season, Steven led the Boys U18 and U16 teams to Scottish Rugby’s National Schools Shield quarter and semi-finals, which was a huge achievement for the young people involved.
In addition to this, Steven also works with a group of young ‘Sports Leaders’ at Balfron High, helping them to develop skills for learning, life and work.
Somewhere in between all this rugby activity, Steven has also found the time to create a range of merchandise including strips and training kit, branded face masks, and beanie hats to help build a dual Balfron High School/Strathendrick RFC identity.
As spokesperson from Balfron High School said: “Steven’s commitment to young players, our school, the club and rugby is truly extraordinary. He is at the heart of everything that is good about rugby at Balfron High School and Strathenridk RFC. From quality coaching, recruitment and training to arranging fixtures and fundraising, he is a class act.”
Volunteer of the Season in Adult rugby sponsored by Tennent’s: Stuart Brown (Dunfermline RFC)
Stuart Brown of Dunfermline RFC is this year’s Volunteer of the Season in Adult rugby for the Caledonia Midlands region.
Stuart has been a leading figure in the coaching set up at Dunfermline having coached for the last 20 years at every level of the game.
For the last three seasons, Stuart has been at the helm of the men’s section and has spent countless hours preparing for and providing engaging, enjoyable, and inclusive rugby sessions for up to 80 players week on week.
Under Stuart’s leadership, the men’s 1XV have recorded nine consecutive wins since November 2021 and currently sit top of the table in the Tennent’s Caledonia Division 1 league, in contention for promotion.
In a testimonial about Stuart, Club President, Kevin Storie said: “Stuart is a club man though and through. He willingly gives his time, effort and energy in supporting our senior players to thrive and play to the best of their ability. Without a doubt, he is one of the key reasons for the current ‘feel-good factor’ at Dunfermline.
“No matter what, Stuart always maintains a positive demeanour, which rubs off on all those around him. And whenever he is asked for advice and guidance from other coaches, he is always on hand to lend his experience.”
Match Official of the Season: Dave McKervail (MDRRS)
Picking up the Match Official of the Season award in the Caledonia Midlands region this year is Dave McKervail, who has been described as a ‘stalwart’ of the Midlands Referee Society.
In the 2021/22 season alone Dave (51) has officiated in 43 different appointments, including Scottish Rugby’s National Schools Cup finals at DAM Heath Stadium and BT Murrayfield.
In a testimonial about Dave, Ted Coutts, President of the Midlands Referee Society said: “Dave will take any appointment within the region, and he is willing to travel considerable distance at short notice in order to ensure that a game can go ahead. He hasn’t declined a single allocation this season, which says so much about the kind of person and referee that he is.”
But Dave is more than just the man in the middle. He is a dedicated committee member of the society and knowledgeable referee coach and educator.
Dave regularly spends time at society meetings taking members through presentations on current refereeing topics such as law interpretations, and he has a “seemingly endless supply of clips from grassroots matches” to help analyse phases of play to help develop the referees.
Ted added: “Dave’s desire to see other people learn and progress as a referee is greater than any personal gain. He’s the sort of ever-willing individual that any volunteer organisation needs, and his has endless energy and enthusiasm, is simply incredible.”