Rachel Eldridge – Volunteer of the Year (Runner-Up, 2017)
In the lead-up to the Pride of Bracknell Forest Awards 2019, we talked to 2017 nominee Rachel Eldridge about her life in volunteering. Rachel was nominated by the Club Manager of the Bracknell Gymnastics Club, expressing his gratitude for Rachel’s thoughtfulness and dedication to coaching the next generation of gymnasts despite having responsibilities as a Bracknell and Wokingham College student. Rachel achieved runner-up for Volunteer of the Year for her commitment to gymnastics.
I have been done gymnastics at the Bracknell sports centre since I was 4 years old. I made it into the squad programme when I was 8 and continued to enjoy the sport as well as being part of the Bracknell Gymnastics Club. I always liked watching the coaches and wanted to try coaching as a way to continue the sport, even when I was unable to physically do it myself. I also wanted to give back to the sport. It provided me with so many valuable skills (teamwork, social skills, determination, dedication, and the ability to manage my time), and I wanted to be able to pass those skills onto other people. As soon as I was old enough, I did my coaching qualification. I started volunteering in the summer holidays of 2013 and I haven’t stopped since!
Since then I have volunteered with multiple classes, competitions and events.
I have also been able to do more professional coaching qualifications which allow me to better my coaching skills. In January of 2016, I became a level 1 qualified coach and in October 2018 I became a level 2 qualified coach. I am most proud of achieving these qualifications, as they allow me to be a better coach and really develop my knowledge to help others.
I am still volunteering my time and don’t think I will ever stop.
Who/what inspires you in your voluntary work?
All the coaches that taught me when I was a gymnast inspire me to be as good of a coach as they were. They helped me grow as a child into the adult I am now. All the coaches I work with continually mentor me and inspire me with different ideas and help me with anything I need. It is such a nurturing environment to work in.
The children working so hard to be the best gymnasts possible truly inspire me. The hard work they put in really makes volunteering worth it. Seeing them gain a new skill they’ve been practicing towards or see them go to a competition and do the best they can inspires me to work hard for them and to give them more challenges to better themselves as gymnasts.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to give back to the community?
Just go for it! Even if it’s something little, any help in the community is admirable. Don’t be nervous and have fun. If you enjoy it, everyone can tell, and they will enjoy it too.
“Even our smallest action creates ripples” ~ Gail Lynne Goodwin
Were you surprised when you found out that you were nominated?
I was so surprised when I found out! It was such an amazing experience watching everyone getting their awards and celebrating all the achievement in the community. I was so proud to see that my work was noticed by people, and was happy to be a part of something so big in the community.
Why do you think it is important to hold these awards?
I think it’s amazing that we hold these awards every year to celebrate some amazing work in the community. It’s important to acknowledge hard work and achievements and show the whole of Bracknell that we have some amazing people, charities and companies in the local area.
Are you nominating anyone for the 2019 Awards?
I will definitely be looking to nominate and will continue to do so for the years to come.