Inclusive badminton inspiration
301. Jeff Johnson
Has spent over 35 years coaching badminton and encouraging athletes with disabilities to play the sport.
Jeff Johnson, a teaching assistant, has volunteered at Bryn Badminton Club in the Wigan and District League since 1978 and has coached thousands of local people to improve their badminton skills. Passionate about giving everyone a chance to play the sport that he loves, Jeff has also spent the last seven years volunteering with the Special Olympics. Jeff has trained over 50 people with disabilities to play Badminton including his daughter Hazel, who won two Gold and one Silver medals at the Special Olympics World Games in 2011.
Jeff started playing Badminton when he was 23 years old and started volunteering when he joined Bryn Badminton Club in 1978. Jeff currently volunteers over 500 hours every year including at weekends and at tournaments as well as hosting training sessions throughout the week and is currently Head Coach, Welfare Officer and Treasurer of Wigan Badminton Development Group.
Keen that the Bryn Badminton Club is inclusive to the local community, Jeff currently has 10 members with disabilities who play every Saturday and encourages all players to have fun and enjoy the sport regardless of ability. Jeff also aims to gain accreditation for Bryn Badminton Club to become a Special Olympics Club and is aiming to attend the Great Britain Special Olympics, to be held in Sheffield in 2017.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“Jeff has given thousands of hours over the last 35 years to making sure badminton is an inclusive sport. He has given hundreds of young disabled people the chance to play badminton and he has been a wonderful asset to the Special Olympics, not least by coaching his daughter to bring home three medals for Britain in the Special Olympics World Games.”
“I don’t believe in the saying “you only get out what you put in.” I have received more than my share of pleasure from my volunteering. To see athletes having fun and gaining self-esteem however small the goal is fantastic.”
Yvonne Fovargue MP said:
“I was delighted for Mr Johnson when I found out that he has won this award. Mr Johnson has been a community stalwart for over 35 years helping thousands of local people and giving up so many hours of his own time to make his community a better place. His work with the disabled is also to be commended. I am pleased that Mr Johnson’s contribution has been recognised in this way.”