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BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero award paves the way for nationwide thank you

I am fortunate in my job that every week I get to hear and meet people using sport and recreation to do extraordinary things. Last week I had a super dose of this when I joined the judging panel for the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero award that will be announced at the Sports Personality of the Year in Liverpool on 17 December. The panel had the task of reviewing all of the BBC Region Unsung Heroes and choosing a national winner. It sounds a bit of a cliché to say it was difficult – but it really was. A diverse range of people making a difference in their own clubs and communities but united by a sense of selflessness, sheer enjoyment and pleasure in what they do.

The judging panel included last years’ winner Marcellus Baz, who has really made the most of winning last year and continues to engage and inspire young people in Nottingham and beyond. If you ever get to meet Marcellus – you have to ask him to tell you his Stevie Wonder story – which is simply priceless! We also had the benefit of some athlete input from Olympians Darren Campbell and Kristian Thomas and Paralympian Louise Hunt. Each of them had a story to tell first hand of the role that volunteers had played in their career so could relate really well to the entries we were reviewing.

In the run up to Sports Personality of the Year, you will be able to hear more about each of the regional Unsung Heroes via the BBC Get Inspired Website and on social media. I challenge you to watch the short videos and hear their stories and not be moved to tears. I can assure you most of the judging panel were – several times!

Who are your unsung heroes?

Whilst we will be celebrating the success of the regional winners, we also know there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who give their time for free to help make sport and recreation happen in this country. Not everyone will win regional or national awards, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t say thanks to them too, whatever the contribution they make. So I am really pleased that for the fourth year running there is a chance for you to say your own #BigThankYou to volunteers who make a difference to your club or activity.

You can find details of the #BigThankYou campaign on the Join In Website or by following @joininuk on social media. Download a toolkit with resources to help you celebrate and share volunteer appreciation on social media through photos, events, stories and other creative and fun ways using the hashtag #BigThankYou. Then, on December 17, join the thousands of clubs and groups up and down the country in publishing all the celebratory content you have collected. Make it the day for your unsung heroes.

One thing we know at the Sport and Recreation Alliance is that volunteers play a crucial role for all of our members, which is why we want to make sure that people understand the contribution they make and take time to say #BigThankYou. We hope you will join us too.

By Emma Boggis

CEO of Sport and Recreation Alliance

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