Sports Volunteers recognised


Three women have been recognised for their outstanding service to sport in the Nelson-Tasman region.

Jacks Netball Club and representative coach Robyn Leonard is this year’s local winner of the Thank a Sport Maker awards, run by Sport Tasman, Sport New Zealand and Lotto New Zealand to recognise the vital role volunteers play in making sport happen across the country.

Leonard has coached premier netball for more than 15 years, rep teams for 10 years and also helped develop and mentor coaches. She received a $500 voucher from the Lotto Volunteer Foundation and a ticket to the forthcoming Nelson Sport Awards.

Gymnastics Nelson committee member and event organiser Helen Houghton and Nelson Bays Pony Club president and coach Dee Needham were named as runners-up and received $200 vouchers.

Since the launch of the Thank a Sport Maker campaign in July 2013, more than 460 people across the top of the South Island have been nominated, over half of which have come from the Nelson-Tasman region.

The three sporting stalwarts were honoured at a breakfast held on Friday (Nov 14) at the Saxton Oval pavilion sponsored by Crowe Horwath and attended by 36 people, including guest speaker Lynley Coventry (nee Hanley).

From left to right; Dee Needham (Nelson Bays Pony Club), Robyn Leonard (Jacks Netball Club and Nelson Netball Centre), Helen Houghton (Gymnastics Nelson) and Lynley Coventry (Guest Speaker)

Coventry, who won a bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in the women’s coxless pairs with Nikki Payne and also represented New Zealand in basketball, spoke about how important the contribution of her coaches and volunteers had been in her career.

The annual event is one of four Sport Tasman is hosting across the top of the South Island, with the others to be held in Blenheim, Kaikoura and Westport.

Sport Tasman community sport advisorJulie Price said those nominated had given many hours each week to help out in sports they were passionate about.

``They are truly inspiring individuals who all have gone that extra mile by putting their hand up so that others can take part in the sport they love.’’

It was estimated that volunteers contributed 50 million hours nationally a year to keep the sport system humming and more than 50,000 hours locally, she said.

``Sport makers are the lifeblood of New Zealand sport.’’

To nominate someone go to