Twenty-five lockdown coaching heroes were recognised and celebrated at the UK Coaching Hero Awards ceremony in Leeds on Wednesday, 6 October.

One of our own, Vince Skillcorn, was amongst the coaching heroes after being nominated for his incredible work in his Fighting Fitness club in Surrey during lockdown.

The coaches, who were voted by the public for their innovations and achievements to keep people moving during the coronavirus lockdowns, each received a memento from UK Coaching’s Royal Partron, HRH The Princess Royal to mark the considerable difference they made to people’s mental and physical well-being.

UK Coaching Director of Coaching Emma Atkins, said:

“Many congratulations to all our winners. We applaud your efforts and the role you played in your communities, boosting morale and lifting people’s moods in a completely alienating time.

“Helping people to use sport and physical activity positively through challenging times is a privilege and one which carries huge responsibilities, and you took your duties seriously, using your initiative to create solutions to the embargo on most sport and physical activity – looking always to what was possible – thank you.”

UK Coaching CEO Mark Gannon, said:

Coaching is about people and great coaching is people-focused, so we feared the worse for the nation’s coaching workforce and the people they support when the restrictions were implemented.

“Yet, we are masters of our own fate, and as such thousands of coaches ripped up the rule book and used innovation, technology and hard graft to connect with their participants virtually, delivering great coaching experiences.  

“Naturally, the stories of our ‘lockdown coaches’ were so good that tens of thousands of people used their thumbs to give kudos to their favourite coach.” 

“You supported, guided and inspired people to achieve goals and transform their lives through something unprecedented. We’re incredibly proud of you – well done.”  

UK Coaching opened nominations to its UK Coaching Hero awards initiative in 2020 after the first major UK-wide COVID-19 lockdown. The charitable organisation wanted to acknowledge the efforts of coaches, who in difficult circumstances persevered and re-thought coaching techniques to deliver legal digital and one-to-one training, utilising sport and physical activity to keep people connected.

From 500 public nominations, a long list of 75 coaches from 65 different places around the UK and representing nearly 40 sports and activities were chosen for public vote. During UK Coaching Week 2021, the British voted for their favourite coach and over 65,000 votes were cast in the ballot.