Beverley Cooper of South Hants Volleyball Club has been named national volunteer of the year.
The award was presented at Volleyball England’s prestigious annual gala, in recognition of outstanding contribution to the sport in the local area.
Cooper, who coaches the National League ladies team based in Purbrook, revealed her shock at even being nominated.
She said: ‘My colleagues on the club committee got together and decided to nominate me, but didn’t tell me so it was a real surprise.
‘The first thing I knew about it was when I received an email saying I had been shortlisted for the award.
‘It was heartwarming.’
Cooper went on to win the main prize at the ceremony, where she was described as an ‘inspirational character’.
She said: ‘I did feel a little bit nervous but when they announced it was me I just felt really proud.
‘I was humbled and really pleased.
‘I just tried to really enjoy the whole occasion.’
As the club’s development officer, Cooper has been pivotal in promoting volleyball in the local area, particularly at youth level.
She said: ‘In the last couple of years I have worked with other agencies and what we’ve managed to do is set up a junior club which we didn’t have before.
‘It’s been absolutely brilliant.
‘And the main aim at the moment is to continue to expand the club, to further develop the junior section and get more children involved.
‘I run an after-school club at Denmead Junior school, with the aim to link with our junior club.’
Cooper has also played a key role in running ‘Go Spike’ sessions – a nationwide project aiming to encourage people to play volleyball.
She added: ‘Our club go along and set up court.
‘We invite people to have a try, it’s really about promoting volleyball and getting people involved.’
The next session is being held this Saturday at Havant Park at 2pm and all abilities are welcome to attend.