Each week we bring you a good news story from across the South West as part of our wedNEWSday articles.

Welcome to the third and final part of our three-part series on Netball South West’s Lockdown Hero’s and the incredible work that they have been doing. Today we celebrate those from Avon and Gloucestershire.

Avon

Becci Calver:

“Becki has an amazing capacity to take in information; is a spreadsheet genius and makes it all seem so simple for the rest of us. She has been incredible throughout the pandemic, being our first point of contact with our venues as the world changed before taking on the mammoth task of our leagues COVID-19 officer. She was always there to deal with questions and support clubs who were unsure of what to do and where to find information. Becki has put in a huge amount of work behind the scenes on behalf of everyone in our league. She has definitely been one of our hero’s over the last 12 months.”

Julie Dyer:

Julie has run the Avon Senior League for many years and has formed such good relationships with all of the clubs in the area – everyone knows Julie! At the start of the pandemic she kept all of the clubs informed, fielding all kinds of questions about rules and regulations. Julie’s determination to keep everyone involved and playing netball was inspirational, taking the initiative to plan a Summer league brought many of our clubs back together. She was always on hand to answer questions from clubs as the world opened up again and to clarify the requirements for netball to be able to take place again. Julie is a real hero to all of our clubs and the Avon League in general.”

Sian Robbins:

“Sian did all that she could to keep junior clubs playing netball whenever possible throughout the pandemic. As players returned, she surveyed the thoughts and feelings of clubs and volunteers to gain clarity on how comfortable they were with getting back on court. Taking this on board, Sian looked closely at the safety of players and was conscious in ensuring that players didn’t do too much too soon. She has organised friendlies so that players had something to aim for before the season was over. Sian has done her very best over the past year to support our youngsters and their clubs through the most difficult of times, helping them out the other side and back onto the netball court.”

Gloucestershire

Chloe Jones:

“Chloe is the Chair of Churchdown netball club and has only been in this role for a couple of years. A tricky time to run a club with very little netball taking place. But under Chloe’s leadership, with support from her committee, the club has actually thrived and grown over lockdown and has come out stronger than ever.”

Leigh Trigg:

Leigh has recently set up a new club with a dream of making netball accessible and inclusive to all capabilities. A dream of creating a safe and inclusive environment for participants to develop, learn and grow. Her encouragement and passion has led to players becoming qualified coaches and umpires. She now boasts a club of 36+ members and growing. I’ve watched from afar as the League Secretary of Gloucestershire netball with ultimate admiration as Leigh continues to instil the passion of our sport in new players every single day.”

Les Thomas:

“Les has worked tirelessly across all levels since March 2020 acting as the point of contact for NSW activity. She has been on regular calls to England Netball, interpreting national guidance, liaising with regional clubs, supporting COVID-19 officers and advising County Chairs at numerous meetings. Les has steered the group through several lockdowns and 8 different junior competition scenarios in an attempt to get some form of junior competition running again. Despite numerous disappointments she has persevered undaunted. Les has done all this and more while retaining her incredible sense of humour which colleagues looked for to help keep their spirits up and keep them smiling. I really don’t know what we would have done without her.”

Nicola Parry:

“Nicola has kept in touch with all our member clubs throughout, regularly checking in with them to see how they were feeling about returning to court and making sure that their concerns and anxieties were heard. She was involved in setting up our Return to Court coach-led sessions which were free to members, and especially tailored for those smaller clubs who did not have a Level 2 coach. Nicola has organised our outdoor, friendly Summer League, and is now busy organising our Winter League. She is easily contactable and responsive to queries and her enthusiasm and energy has helped keep us all going with promise of return to Netball at the end of it!”

Shirley Ransom:

“Shirley’s passion and commitment to netball is inspiring. She has continually supported members mental health through the organising of walks, encouraging ladies to get out and back together. This has now become a regular walk and talk group, and during lockdown with no netball available, many of our ladies joined in. The group have now walked over 100 miles during the past year, and in turn encouraged some of our other ladies to form small groups and do the same in their own locations. Upon netball returning a lack of venue didn’t stop Shirley from playing, instead she walked 5 miles to her neighbouring town to join in their session, now that is what I call commitment!”

Sue Wainwright:

“Everyone who knows Sue will agree that she has a netball river running through her veins! Never have we come across anyone who just won’t give in, even during the pandemic to netball coming to a halt! With every announcement from England Netball, the calls and messages began again, and coffee meetings were arranged to reunite members to see what more they could do. She never once gave up and was always the optimistic one to keep netball on the move. Sue is an inspiration to netballers all over the County and is one tough cookie who even the pandemic was never going to get the better of!”

Theresa Veale:

“Theresa has been running a club for 26 years, with the well-being of each member at the heart of everything that she does. Throughout COVID-19 she has organised quiz nights, fancy dress Zoom parties and phone calls to the girls that were struggling, giving them hope. When restrictions lifted, Theresa arranged for players to meet up for running, hiking and fitness training, it was so nice for the players to be able to meet up, exercise and bond again as a team. Without Theresa our club wouldn’t exist, and without our club lots of us would not have the close friendships that we have formed. She has helped so many girls have a purpose, and we couldn’t be more grateful for everything she has done.”

Yasmin Vines:

“Yasmin’s imagination and creativity to engage the whole club and their wider families through various communication channels and her determination to get us back on court and adhering to all the rules to keep us safe was inspiring. She has volunteered so much of her time to prepare, motivate, communicate, and deliver across all of our age ranges and abilities. With the support of our coaches, she provided the energy and much needed enthusiasm that has allowed us to return to competitive netball better and stronger. Our Club values are expressed as ‘little club-big heart’ and Yasmin has lived this throughout lockdown, ensuring that as a club we have come out the other side stronger, more positive, and still with a great passion for netball.”

Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who have put their heart and soul into making netball the sport that we all love and enjoy. For bringing people together, creating friendships and providing a safe space for players to believe in themselves.

If you have a good news story that you would like to share please send your story and a picture to the South West Regional Coordinator (southwest@englandnetball.co.uk)