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Newton Abbot volunteer shocked to receive Lifetime Achievement Award

09 Dec 2016 13:10 | Sara Raine

NEWTON Abbot RFC's Sarah Brooks says she was shocked to receive an RFU President’s Value the Volunteer Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sarah received her award at Twickenham last weekend. She attended England’s match with Australia and got to meet Sir Clive Woodward and Eddie Jones, who was doing the presentation.

The Newton Abbot girls’ lead coach, who has done so much to promote women’s rugby in the region, admitted she had an amazing time at Twickenham.

“It was fantastic – really good fun,” she said.

“We were really, really well looked after. A lot of the award winners had drinks in the hotel afterwards and breakfast the next day and everyone said how well we had been look after.

“It was nice to feel so valued. They say ‘value the volunteer’ and that was so, so true.”

Sarah is lead coach for Newton Abbot’s under-13, under-15 and under-18 girls’ sides and also helps other clubs in Devon. She also acts as an ambassador for girls’ rugby by offering coaching to a number of local schools and was a Rugby World Cup ambassador mentor.

Sarah also organised a successful Devon RFU summer touch rugby competition this year, has played a major role in encouraging rugby to be played at the Devon Youth Games and is on a number of committees at club and county level.

But she still did not expect to be nominated for any award.

“I was extremely surprised,” she said. “I didn’t expect it at all. I’m still very surprised that I was nominated because it was a lifetime achievement award.

“For that I feel very humbled and honoured to have been chosen.”

When asked what drives her to volunteer, Sarah, a business women and mother of three, said: “It’s about providing girls with a space where they can be themselves. Whatever their body shape or type there is something they can do on a rugby pitch.

“When they first come along you get these girls who are really shy, body conscious, often without a lot of self-esteem and maybe don’t really play sport particularly. But they come along to rugby and within three to six months you just see them coming into the rugby club with their shoulders back, their heads are up and they are looking people in the eye. They know they can look after themselves and they know they are worthwhile as they each have a different job they can do.

“Watching that change is amazing. That’s why I go back and do it again.”