Some of the most dedicated, devoted and selfless people in Scottish sport have been recognised this evening at the sportscotland Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering Awards ceremony in Glasgow.
At the event, hosted by BBC Scotland’s Bryan Burnett, coaches, officials and volunteers involved in swimming, diving, football, netball, tennis, gymnastics and badminton were rewarded for the many hours they dedicate to helping others participate and progress in sport - both in local communities and on the world stage.
Each of the winners received a trophy, certificate and £300 towards their professional or coaching development.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Swimming coach Eddie McCluskey, 68, has been committed to the sporting development of young people with a disability for over 40 years and his years of dedication and contribution to the sport in the Greenock area were recognised with the top accolade.
Eddie has coached four Paralympians, including Maggie McEleny and Kenny Cairns, to multi-gold medal success over five Paralympic Games and for many years he was considered a ‘first pick' among British squad coaches.
After his fifth Paralympic Games, Beijing 2008, Eddie retired from coaching Britain's top international swimmers as part of Team GB and concentrated on coaching at his local club, Port-Glasgow Otters.
“I like to see people improving," said Eddie. "Some of our members that come to this club have hard lives, but when I see them enjoying themselves and that I’m helping to enhance their quality of life – I absolutely love it. There’s no better feeling than seeing them happy – and sport does that.
“Whether it’s in Sydney, Beijing, Greenock or Glasgow, I love to see my swimmers be successful.
"I am so proud of them all. It’s an honour to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award from sportscotland, I can’t quite believe it."
Community Coaches of the Year
Two outstanding community coaches from the Aberdeen area shared this award.
Sally Carns, 38 was named Community Coach of the Year for her successful results as a voluntary lead coach at Bucksburn Netball Club in the Granite City.
Kieran Henderson, 17, was awarded the Young Coach of the Year award for his commitment to the Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust (AFCCT).
Sally, who also coaches Robert Gordon University’s netball team and was recently appointed as a development centre coach for Shetland and Orkney, said: "For me the success of netball, or indeed any sport, has never been about winning. The focus is on the 13- 15-year-olds and fostering that life-long love of netball, and that doesn’t matter whether we are winning or losing on court.
"A successful game to me is where people have performed their best, and although they’re not winning, still endeavour to bring all they’ve got to the court. It’s a privilege to receive this sportscotland award.”
Kieran plays an integral part in the growth and development of football opportunities in the community in Aberdeen. He has completed over 500 hours of volunteering and helps to drive creative and inspirational programmes for AFCCT Dementia Friendly.
He said: “I started coaching in fourth year at high school after my PE teacher recommended joining the community trust. I really enjoyed the experience and as a coach, you never stop learning.
"When I show the kids how passionate I am about the sport, I hope that helps influence them to play the best they can. Winning or not, it won’t stop me from giving my all.
"I’m delighted to be named as the winner of the sportscotland Young Coach of the Year Award.”
Young Person's Coach of the Year
Kieran Brown, 19, is one of the North of Scotland’s leading young gymnastics coaches - but as our video shows, he might have taken a very different pathway in life.
Through the Street Gym programme, the teenager has helped to develop a safe environment for teenagers to participate and progress in gymnastics. He is responsible for coaching boys and girls aged between eight and 18 and is in high demand to deliver sessions to schools, youth groups and leisure clubs across the Highlands.
Kieran said: “I originally started doing work experience at Fyrish Gymnastic Club and I was delighted when my coach asked me if I wanted to get involved on a permanent basis. The kids are all really great.
"I never feel like I’m coaching them, it feels like I am coming in to help friends.
"My dream is for to our Street Gym to become a national class, and for it to be recognised all over Scotland. I’m delighted to be named as the winner of the sportscotland Young Person’s Coach of the Year Award.”
Performance Development Coach of the Year
As one of Scotland’s leading diving coaches, Jen Leeming is committed to the achievement of successful results at the Edinburgh Diving Performance Development Group. One of her greatest achievements has been the progress of Grace Reid, the Rio 2016 Olympian who has benefited from Jen's guidance throughout her career.
Jen, 32, is responsible for the development of emerging young divers from the early stages of their career, through to elite level. She provides coherent, educational programmes and delivers a national remit to help Scottish Swimming shape their strategic direction for diving in Scotland.
Jen said: “For me, every training session has to be enjoyable for my athletes. Even if it’s the hardest training session they have ever endured – they still have to have fun.
"We put a lot of effort into our programmes, and although we work our athletes hard, our coaches ensure they love every second of it.”
Grace Reid added: “I met Jen years ago when I was little, she took me to my first talent class when I was seven years old and we have been working together ever since.
"She’s fantastic as a person, both in and out of the pool. She’s a truly dedicated person and always gives 100 per cent.
"I can’t think of anyone more deserving for this award, it’s really nice to see Jen being recognised for everything that she does for us.”
Technical Official of the Year
Glasgow’s Martin Madden is one of Scotland’s leading hockey officials and enjoyed a career highlight this year when he umpired at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Watching his father participate in the Seoul Olympics in 1988 provided inspiration for Martin, 39, and after over 20 years of hard work and dedication, his dream came true when he was selected to umpire at the 2016 Games.
Reflecting on his success, Martin said: “I first got into hockey through my dad, he played the sport and was the club captain at the team I work with now. He also was the first Scot to become an Olympic umpire, I am very proud of his achievement and this influenced me to follow a similar route.
“I always knew that I wanted to do something in hockey and, despite giving it my best shot as a player, my dad suggested to try umpiring for the sport. My first experience in this role was when I was 15 years old and from then, I have been umpiring ever since.
“People aren’t in it for the recognition, they are in it for the love of the sport and the enjoyment of it – and I can truly say that it has been the best experience. I’m very grateful for this sportscotland award and would like to thank the team who nominated me.”
Disability Coach of the Year
Karen Ross has a rich pedigree in coaching wheelchair tennis players and her work was brought into the spotlight in 2016 by the extraordinary success of Gordon Reid.
With over a decade of experience, Karen’s unrivalled in-depth knowledge and understanding of the sport makes her a pioneer in her field.
Karen said: “As I have always been so passionate about working with people with disabilities, I find my job so rewarding. I never really think of it as ‘work’ if I’m honest, it was more something I really wanted to do.
"I just want to help people be the best they can.
"I feel very honoured to be the named as the winner of the sportscotland Disability Coach of the Year Award. For me, I am very much in the background. My players get the success and I’m quietly proud, and that’s the way I like it.”
Karen initially started her career training the 2008 Beijing Paralympian, Kevin Simpson, and more recently she has played a vital role in the two Grand Slam wins and two Paralympic medals won by world No.1 men's singles player Gordon Reid this year.
Gordon said: “Karen has been with me throughout my entire journey, and we still work together every day now. She is over the moon for me and very proud of everything that I have achieved, but at the same time, I feel the same way about Karen.
"She has put a lot of hard work into getting me to where I am today, and she doesn’t often get the credit for everything she does behind the scenes. It’s great that now we can finally focus on Karen. I definitely wouldn’t be the player I am today without her.”
High Performance Coach of the Year
University of Stirling swimming coaches Ben Higson and Steve Tigg shared this award after achieving a remarkable run of results at the highest level of swimming.
Ben, 30, and Steve, 32, work in tandem to lead the emerging programme at The University of Stirling and have attracted top class recruits for the upcoming season. The pair personally coach international athletes including Robbie Renwick, Ross Murdoch, Duncan Scott and Craig Benson.
On the back of the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia they enjoyed success at the 2016 European Championships in London and the Rio Olympic Games, with their swimmers amassing nine international medals.
At the European Championships in London their swimmers achieved four golds (two each for Murdoch and Scott) as well as a silver and bronze for Murdoch. At the Olympics they were responsible for three silvers (two won by Scott and one by Renwick).
Ben said: “I have been involved in swimming since the age of eight. I was a competitive swimmer up until 2008 and then I transitioned into coaching – I wanted to give something back to the sport that I got so much from myself.
"I’m really lucky to have Steve to work with, his attention to detail is second to none and that speaks volumes in the success that we have achieved. We definitely complement each other.”
Steve added: “I joined the local swimming club in Stirling about 25 years ago. When I gave up performance swimming, a local coach asked me if I would come and help out at his club and I began my coaching career from there.
"Ben and I are close friends and there is real trust between us, I think that’s important in a team.
"We have differences in our approach to coaching, but that’s great and it gives the athletes a real balanced programme. It’s amazing to be recognised at this year’s sportscotland awards. It’s as much for our support team as it is for us as individuals.”
Olympic silver medallist Duncan Scott added: “Both Ben and Steve have amazing qualities, they bounce off each other and it works really well. Their hard work stands out beyond anything else.
"When we leave our training session at the pool, they are in the office analysing, making videos and putting in the extra miles – I feel like that makes the difference. I would not be where I am today without Ben and Steve, I have to pay a massive thanks to them both and hope our good times together to continue.”
Volunteer of the Year
Patty Coghill is one of Scotland’s leading community coaching volunteers who has been making a valuable contribution to sport in the Wick area for 20 years.
Patty, 47, has been recognised for her commitment to running Wick Juniors badminton club on a voluntarily basis. The junior club has 120 members between the ages of nine to 15 with a total of eight coaches.
Patty is responsible for every aspect of the club from booking venues, arranging transport and organising competitions. Her passion and motivation to succeed has inspired a full team of volunteers to work for her, giving up every weekend in all weather conditions to support her and the team.
Patty said: “I started volunteering with the club when I was 19 years old. The lady who coached me asked if I would come along and help, and that’s how I got involved.
“As a coach I think it’s important to engage with all children, regardless of their ability, and that’s where I believe our club succeeds.
"I want to encourage everyone to come along and be the best player that they can be, but the main thing is that they all enjoy it at the same time, and I believe that they do.
“I was totally surprised when I was selected as the winner of the sportscotland Volunteer of the Year Award. This is for everyone at the club, I wouldn’t be where I am today without them all standing behind me.”
Young Volunteer of the Year
Andrew Lauder has demonstrated a passion for volunteering in sport within his local community of Falkirk.
Over the past five years Andrew, 20, has made a significant contribution to the Tryst Community Sports Club, based at Larbert High School, where he is a young Hub Leader.
Andrew has been crucial to the success of the club and is the face of the Holiday Camp programme, which has become the centrepiece of what the club delivers.
As a fan of Falkirk FC from a young age, Andrew also voluntarily assists the football team with match-day media operations and is assistant kit man to the fist team. He is also a Scout Leader where he is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the club.
Andrew said: “I have been involved in volunteering at The Tryst Community Sports Club since I was a pupil at Larbert High School, and I can truthfully say it has been the best experience.
"One thing volunteering has resulted in is making me realise what I want to do with my life and become a PE teacher.
"The skills and the knowledge I have developed from volunteering has put me well on my way for the rest of my life.
“I would really like to encourage young people like myself to volunteer, the buzz you get from knowing you are making a difference to your local community is amazing. I am delighted to be the sportscotland Young Volunteer of the Year.”
Praise for winners
Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland, said: “Every year across the country, thousands of dedicated volunteers devote their time, knowledge and skills to help others achieve their sporting goals.
"It’s an honour that sportscotland has the opportunity to thank them for all that they’re doing to ensure Scotland’s sporting generation receives unrivalled coaching to enable them to compete on the world stage.
“At sportscotland we are implementing a world class sporting system at every level in Scotland and we can only do so with the support of the many dedicated coaches, officials and volunteers like those recognised this evening.
“I hope that many more people are inspired by their stories and recognise the opportunities that exist to get involved in sport at every level from volunteering at your local club or school to coaching or officiating on the world stage.”
Find out more
Do you know somebody whose contribution to coaching, officiating or volunteering in Scottish sport should be recognised?
If so they might be a contender for next year's awards. More information on the awards can be found here.