Speaking at the launch of the iniative, Wendy Osborne OBE, Director of theVolunteer Development Agency said, “We know that 92% of sports clubs could not exist without volunteers. Creating Volunteering Champions is about helping individuals and organisations recognise the importance of volunteer involvement and supporting them to make a commitment to good practice in volunteer management; therefore improving their existing and new volunteers’ experiences and creating a culture that values, protects and empowers volunteers.”

Creating Volunteering Championshas been granted the Inspire Mark, which recognises innovative and exceptional projects that are genuinely inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Welcoming the award of the Inspire Mark Seb Coe, Chair, London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games said, “We want to use the power of the Games to inspire change. The Inspire programme is recognising the work our partners all around the UK are doing to help us achieve this vision now. I congratulate everyone involved in Creating Volunteering Champions for securing the Inspire Mark and wish you every success with your work.”

Marietta Lammey, one of the first graduates of the Creating Volunteer Champions programme and voluntary Vice Chairperson of the Ulster Hockey Management Board said, “Ulster Hockey, like many other sports is dependent on a wide raft of volunteers. Vital as they are, they are often taken for granted and not given the recognition they deserve. Creating Volunteering Champions has made us aware of the importance of recruiting, supporting and valuing our volunteers and giving them opportunities to further their interest in the sport at all levels. Without them, we would be struggling to achieve the success we have, with them, t he game will continue to grow and flourish.”

At a reception held at Queen’s PEC, which also marked 1,000 days to the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, some 100 people who have graduated from the programme to date were presented with their certificates. Graduates of the programme include representatives from the North West 200, Irish Football Association, Milk Cup, Ulster Hockey, Royal Yachting Association (NI Committee), Athletics NI and Swim Ulster.

If you are interested in finding out more about Creating Volunteering Champions please go to www.volunteering-ni.org

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