The volunteering column with Karen Weaver

Nicole Turner of Spa Town Rollers.
Nicole Turner of Spa Town Rollers.

Do you know someone who does a lot for the local community? It could be a friend, family member, a volunteer you work with or even a local business – why not show your appreciation by nominating them for a 2017 Volunteering Oscar?

Nominations can be made online via https://harcvs.org.uk/news/volunteering-oscars- 2017.

The form is quick and easy to complete and the deadline is Monday 4 October.

The Harrogate District Volunteer Oscars were established by former mayor Councillor John Fox in 2008 and HARCVS has been a proud partner from the start, together with this newspaper.

Shortlisted nominees are invited to the awards ceremony at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate, on Friday 27 October.

The evening is always a friendly and inspiring celebration of volunteering, kindly supported by a whole host of local business sponsors.

This year promises to be an extra special occasion held in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, to mark an amazing 10 years of the awards.

So what does receiving a Volunteer Oscar award mean to people? For my final feature on last year’s winners I caught up with Nicole Turner of Spa Town Roller Derby, who received the Sports Volunteer award in 2017. She didn’t know her fellow team members had nominated her and told me she was “gobsmacked” when she found out she had been shortlisted. She describes actually winning as “brilliant” and confirmed that receiving the award gave a huge boost to everyone involved in the club, especially those who nominated her.

Now I confess that I didn’t know anything about roller derby until I chatted with Nicole. It is a full-contact sport played on quad roller skates, by players skating around an elliptical track. Spa Town Roller Girls was founded in 2012 and Nicole got involved when a friend from work asked for her help to get it set up. She didn’t intend to stay but is still there and as well as playing she now coaches and organises the games.

Roller derby is described as a fast and furious sport, and as Nicole explains, it has a wide appeal. She said: “It has brought me into contact with a whole new and diverse community; I’ve met loads of people who I perhaps wouldn’t have said hello to in the street before”. Nicole says that many of those who play didn’t enjoy PE at school, adding: “It may seem bizarre but the sport suits people from all backgrounds and of all shapes and sizes. It gives you a chance to improve your social life and playing can really give you a boost if you’re feeling a bit down or have had a tough day at work.

“We have quite a few social workers, nurses and teachers who play!”

In a new development the club is now aiming to expand by opening to men as well as women when the new season gets underway this month. Anyone interested is welcome to come along to their open afternoon on Sunday 24 September at 2.30pm at Harrogate Ladies College Sports Hall. If you’re not sure if you’re ready for full contact sport yet the game also requires a large number of non-playing officials

For more info about the sport visit www.spatownrollerderby.com.

Dedicated volunteers such as Nicole ensure that there’s an amazing choice o activities for people to get involved in our District. Why not thank volunteers who’ve made a difference to you or your family by nominating them for a 2017 Volunteering Oscar? For local volunteering opportunities please visit https://harcvs.org.uk/volunteer.