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Steve Betts crowned BBC North East Unsung Hero

4th January 2012

Steve Betts crowned BBC North East Unsung Hero

Steve Betts was recently crowned BBC North East Unsung Hero in recognition of his 40 years voluntary service dedicated to volleyball.  He will now be put forward to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Finals, held on the 22nd December at Media City UK, Salford Keys. 

Steve finished ahead of three other finalists to win the award in the ceremony, held at Gateshead College Academy of Sport.  The event was hosted by BBC Look North's regular sports presenters Geoff Brown and Charlie Charlton and featured on their show the following night.  An impressive guest list included current Magpies' captain Fabricio Collicini and 1966 World Cup winner Jack Charlton who managed two of North East football clubs.  Chris Cook, double Commonwealth Gold medal swimmer from South Shields, presented Steve with his award. 

Steve commented,“every amateur sports club and organisation has people like me who willingly put in time and effort to develop their sport and I felt incredibly privileged to be the one who received the award.” 

When Steve began his teaching career in 1970 at Highfield School in Gateshead he was asked by his Head of Department to teach volleyball - little did he know how long he would remain involved in the sport!  By 1978, curriculum volleyball at Highfield School had developed into Felling Volleyball Club and Steve coached and managed eight volleyball teams in regional and local leagues across the North East.  Later on this club changed name and venue to Gateshead and competed in the NVL. 

Since his retirement in 2006, Steve has taken on an almost full-time role in volleyball development within Tynedale and the wider north east area. Within Tynedale he set up the Tynedale Volleyball Partnership with the aim of forming school club links for junior development and encouraging adult beginners. He was instrumental in establishing the Village Volleyball scheme, which received a lottery grant to establish volleyball in halls around the rural area of Tynedale. For the Northern Counties Association Steve has been active in developing links with schools across the area, taking sessions himself, training teachers and establishing competitions. In addition he has worked to support existing clubs in their development aims and brought in new clubs such as Sunderland University and encouraged new teams, particularly ladies, to enter the local leagues. 

Steve is currently Chair of the Northern Counties Volleyball Association.  He has taken on wider county and regional responsibilities since being Fixtures Secretary of Tyneside League in 1976.

According to Phil Dodd (North East Regional Chair), Steve “has been a constant source of support and wisdom on all matters and his patient encouragement has been invaluable to all volunteers in the local area.” 

This award tops off a fantastic year for Steve, who earlier in the year, received the accolade of ‘Volunteer of the Year’ at the 2011 Volleyball England Annual Awards Evening. From this Steve received his nomination for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero Award.

Steve will be attending the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards Evening at Media City UK in Salford Quays.  This will be broadcast live on Thursday 22nd December and there will be coverage on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website from 8pm.

Stuart Johnson (Volleyball England Head of Development) said, “It is fantastic that someone from the volleyball community has won such as prestigious award.  We are extremely grateful for all the time and effort volunteers such as Steve put into the sport and it is wonderful for him to get this recognition.”

Steve Betts crowned BBC North East Unsung Hero