WRITTEN FOR ATHLETICS WEEKLY MAGAZINE
Series: England Athletics national volunteer award-winners
Services to Volunteering – Neil Costello.
Nicola Bamford profiles the winner of the 2010 Services to Volunteering award from the England Athletics national volunteer awards ceremony last autumn.
Having completed his level-one coaching qualifications in 1984, Costello now leads a road-running group at Cambridge & Coleridge AC and enjoys taking part himself:
“I have never been a star athlete, I was a pretty good miler as a schoolboy and enjoyed cross country running. - a long run has often kept me sane when I’ve had pressures elsewhere,” Costello explained.
Indeed, many would feel under immense pressure if they held as many important voluntary roles within the sport but Costello takes it all in his stride – contributing to his recent accolade:
“The (awards) evening was very enjoyable – great company and a great atmosphere,” Costello revealed.
“I felt a bit embarrassed to receive an award when I know how much many other people do, proud to be seen as someone who is worthy of something like this and very aware of how much I rely on other people – it is an award for my wife, Ginny, and the team of people at C&C and elsewhere not just for me.”
Ever a modest man, Costello entered the volunteering world over two-decades ago when his local club required a new cross-country secretary and the duties spiralled from then on.
Introduced by the then club secretary, Peter Chaplin, Costello answered his plea for more people to be involved with the club’s growth and has been inspired by the work
of other volunteers around him since his foray into the sport:
“I get pleasure out of watching anyone who is excellent at the things they do, not just in athletics,” Costello explained.
“We have some athletes who are a delight to watch in the club, and nationally, of course. People who get the best out of themselves are inspirational too, whatever their standard.”
Having coached many English Schools’ finalists and internationals such as Sam Boden and Will Clarke, Costello names his work with tri-athlete Rachel Horn as his biggest thrill to date and has his hand in many events in an organisational capacity:
“I’ve organised cross country events up to regional championships and a number of road races,” Costello revealed.
“I also help out at track and field events, usually as one of the scorers or announcer, occasionally wielding a rake or tape measure.
I enjoy working on endurance events. The Cambridge Festival of Running, now in its third year, gives me a buzz. It’s run entirely by volunteers and in the last two years we’ve raised £18,000 for charity.”
Impressive feats indeed for the man who additionally holds various other roles including Chair of C&C, Chair of the Greater Cambridge Athletics Network and also Chair of the Cambridge Festival of Running.
“I’m on the England Athletics Regional Council and some national groups, too,” Costello explained.
“I value the work of the county association highly. It’s the bedrock for competition and very important.
“I agreed to join the England Athletics Regional Council as a co-opted member and things developed from there.
I like a challenge and I’m appallingly bad at saying, ‘No’ - that’s not modesty; saying ‘no’ is a skill and I haven’t got it. I’m trying to acquire it.”
There’s no pressure there, though – Costello’s loss is certainly Cambridgeshire’s gain.