WRITTEN FOR ATHLETICS WEEKLY MAGAZINE
Series: England Athletics national volunteer award-winners
Official of the Year – Peter Lee.
Nicola Bamford profiles the winner of the 2010 Official of the Year award from the England Athletics national volunteer awards ceremony last autumn.
An athletics and rugby competitor in his youth, Lee first became involved with his local club Stevenage and North Herts AC when his daughters joined as members back in the early nineties.
From his days as a helpful parent at club training nights and meetings, Lee has gone onto span an impressive array of officiating duties within the local area - attracting his recent ‘Official of the Year’ award from the governing body of his beloved sport.
“The first thing I knew was when I won the ‘Official of the Year’ award for the East Region of England Athletics,” Lee explained.
“That was a shock to start with, as I don’t think I do anything fantastic. When the invitation came to attend the England Athletics awards ceremony, I was not keen to attend but my wife persuaded me.
When Katherine Merry announced that the award would be presented at the beginning, my first thought that I could cheer the winner and then enjoy the evening! I was totally gobsmacked when I was announced as the winner - the rest of the table cheered and my wife had to nudge me to actually go and receive the award.
I didn’t hear a word of the citation as I walked up to the front. I never really got over the shock that evening but I did manage to enjoy it. What has been humbling is that so many officials think I deserve it!”
Modest like many of his peers across the UK, Lee’s journey to his current level-four status has evolved through several duties which have spanned many voluntary facets in the sport.
The Herts County Officials Secretary since 2000, Lee also acts as the Honorary Officials Secretary for his county’s schools association and is a level-three Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) course tutor.
“I qualified as an official in 1992 so I’m actually quite new to the game when compared with others,” Lee revealed.
“There are many other officials in the South of England who have helped and guided me. My daughters do not compete now but I got the bug and can’t stop!
I write a short news letter which goes out twice a year and I also seek volunteers to officiate at schools county League matches and district championships.”
Perhaps in his most pioneering role to date, Lee is additionally instrumental in the provision of the much sought-after EMD equipment for fellow officials.
“I started running courses for officials on how to set up and use EDM machines and then UKA started their own training system, so I became one of their Level 3 EDM tutors,” Lee explained.
“I have always tried to help other officials who are perhaps newer than me to gain experience and confidence and to answer any questions they may have.
When Tony Sach and I were on the Field sub-committee of the South of England Officials Association (SEAOA) – (of which Lee is still a member) - we arranged for a number of senior officials to get EDM training but then found that there were few opportunities for them to exercise their knowledge.”
Further explaining how their aim to make the equipment available at sub-national level became a success, Lee continued:
“That was in early 2007, currently we have eighteen machines with spikes, prisms, batteries and chargers and we have just formed a partnership called Precision Athletics with another official, Bob Hammond, because we found the hiring out was getting to be as much as two of us could cope with.
Another way Precision Athletics tries to help is by holding free “EDM Play Days” when officials can spend time setting machines up and using them at their own speed to give them more confidence. The next “Play Day” is 20th February 2011; hot drinks and bacon butties provided!”
Evidently keen to establish breakthroughs in the provision and skill set of UK officiating, Lee also enjoys working at events from school to international level.
“I help a local school who use the Stevenage track and I officiate at district schools championships, county championships, county-level track and field Cups, combined events, regional matches, the southern League, the EYAL, the national junior league and also Inter-county and Inter-College and Varsity, territorial matches, national and international matches.
These can be as a field judge, clerk of the course, technical manager or referee,” revealed the man with many strings to his bow and a diary busier than ever.