Coach Penny up for national award

A DOWNEND badminton coach has been nominated for a national award in recognition of more than 35 years of service to the sport.

Penny Shears is a finalist in the Volunteer of the Year category of the Community Sport and Recreation Awards.

Penny first started coaching in 1987 when her children played at a club at Downend School.

The club later moved to Yate, and is known as Yate Racketeers Junior Badminton Club, and Penny has been nominated for her role in running the club.

She also volunteers with the Henleaze-based Beaufort Badminton Club’s junior section and works part-time as a paid coach for adults and children.

Penny said: “I’m honoured to have been shortlisted for this national award and look forward to attending the awards ceremony in March.

“I became involved in coaching badminton in 1987 when my two children got involved and decided to get myself qualified as a badminton coach.

“We moved sessions from Downend School to King Edmund School in 1996 and never looked back.

“I’ve recently enjoyed seeing former players bringing their own children to the club some 35 years later, and being surprised to see me coaching and still running the club.”

Yate Racketeers Junior Badminton Club runs weekly sessions on Saturday mornings at Yate Academy from September to April, for children aged 7 to 18.

The club has produced several county and senior league players, including Jess Hopton, who joined aged eight and went on to represent England in internationals and was an Olympic torch bearer in Bristol in 2012.

The awards, organised by national sporting organisation the Sport and Recreation Alliance, will be presented at a ceremony on March 8 at Headingley Stadium in Leeds, the home of Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

The awards have been running for more than 25 years, and are an annual celebration of grassroots clubs, organisations and individuals who help enable and support sporting activity in communities. Previous winners include table tennis and boxing clubs, golf clubs and the Middlesbrough FC Foundation. 

For more information, visit the Sport and Recreation Alliance website,, or its Instagram and LinkedIn pages.