HYNDBURN Athletic Club coach Norman Mitchell was crowned Lancashire Coach of the Year at the Next Generation Club in Chorley last Friday.
Norman, 50 from Oswaldtwistle, was nominated after winning the Hyndburn Coach of the Year award and he will now represent Lancashire at the prestigious Sport England Coach of the Year Awards later this year.
"I am honoured," said Norman, the Coaching and Youth Development Officer and Vice Chairman at Hyndburn AC. "But it is team work - and the award recognises what Hyndburn AC does as a club. I can put forward the ideas and schemes but it is the members of the club who implement them - everyone down to the people who make the tea or stand at the track side on a rainy night to the support of the Leisure Services team at Hyndburn Borough Council - they all contribute.
"People might say they couldn't do it without my drive and enthusiasm, but it is about us all working together."
Norman has been coaching for around 30 years but has been involved in a more active role at the club for around seven years. He regularly attends coaching workshops and seminars.
"Coaching has become more structured in the last few years - a more professional style but under an amateur banner," he said.
Norman has seen athletes like Commonwealth Games 1500m finalist Kerry Gillibrand move onto other clubs and his aim is to encourage athletes to remain at Hyndburn AC or return later when they have finished competing at the higher levels. And he and his coaches put in a lot of time and effort into helping children develop and try out new events at the club.
"I enjoy watching the children come through and developing their potential. It is nice to see athletes go on and compete for Lancashire and at a higher level but it is equally rewarding watching the athletes just take part. One youngster came down to the club and, at the end of the session, said he was crying at the start because he didn't want to come but his mum had suggested he give it a try.
"By the end he was asking when he could come again. Incidents like that are as rewarding as seeing an athlete from the club win a Lancashire championship or compete in the English Schools. We do though travel all over the country, taking part in competitions and championships, which has helped to put Hyndburn on the map."
The club have also actively encouraged Asian boys and girls to join the club with the support of the Hyndburn Borough Council sports and recreation team and Lancashire Sport. And the club are also hoping to increase the participation of athletes with disabilities into athletics. Several of the 15 coaches are undergoing specialist training to help accommodate anyone who wants to compete.
At the moment, there are around 160-180 members at the club who start at around eight-years-old to seniors. Hyndburn AC offers sprints, middle distance, jumps, throws and Cross Country athletes the chance to compete at all levels. They train every Tuesday and Thursday at Wilson Playing
Field, Clayton-Le-Moors from 6.30-8.30pm. Anyone can just turn up.
Meanwhile Waheed Hussain received a Special Recognition Award at the event in Chorley. Waheed's involvement in local communities, coaching under-represented and disadvantaged youngsters, has been recognised.
Church Cricket Club picked up Hyndburn Club of the Year for providing opportunities for not only their members but also the community - with their work in schools and a vast coaching programme.
And Jane Flegg was the borough's Young Volunteer of the Year. She coaches cricket, netball and hockey and is training to be a PE teacher.