AN ATHLETICS coach from Reading has won a national coaching hero award after using his mentoring and coaching business to support local vulnerable children.

From nearly 500 public nominations, Roderick Slater is one of 25 coaches across the UK to be crowned a winner at the UK Coaching Hero Awards.

ALSO READ: 'We're constantly drowning in rubbish' says mum as fly-tip blocks play area

Slater has spent 25 years in the fitness industry and worked with the general public all the way up to Para & Olympic athletes. He has also been involved in education, using his experience in the sports and fitness industry to try and empower, develop and support vulnerable young people.

Throughout the pandemic, Slater has provided access to a gym for his class and as an alternative provider to local schools, so they could as a safe place to exercise.

Running online workouts twice a week and holding Q&A sessions with sports therapists and former athletes, he has put young people’s wellbeing at the forefront of his work.

And in a time where mental health mattered more than ever, he has provided support, advice and maintained a constant social environment to so many young people in the Reading community.

Reading Chronicle:

Mr Slater said: “I feel honoured and humbled by this award. The support I have received from my athletes, students, schools, family, and friends throughout this process has been quite emotional and overwhelming. I can’t thank everyone enough.

ALSO READ: Cardiff City vs Reading: Live coverage from the Cardiff City Stadium

“Throughout the pandemic, my biggest concern was ensuring the young people and athletes I work with maintained their exercise routines and stayed involved in order to support their mental & physical health.

“For me coaching is a full life process, it’s about enabling the young people/athletes, to not only be successful in their respective sport and to enjoy it, but also to help develop them as people, support their growth in character and social interaction with others.

"I love the work I do and if I can help one young person feel more positive within their life, then it is all worthwhile.

"I’ve always loved the impact a coach can have on an athlete’s development and have tried to use that as part of my philosophy.

"As a coach I am always learning and looking to grow and help the young people that I work with and help them strive to be the best versions of themselves. I do feel that I still have a long way to go, but to be recognised like this is such an honour.”

ALSO READ: Wokingham sports awards 2020/21 - who will be getting your vote?

The coaches, who were voted by the public for their innovations and achievements to keep people moving during the coronavirus lockdowns, each received a memento from UK Coaching’s Royal Patron, HRH The Princess Royal to mark the considerable difference they made to people’s mental and physical well-being.

UK Coaching Director of Coaching Emma Atkins, said: “Many congratulations to Roderick and all our winners. We applaud your efforts and the role you played in your communities, boosting morale and lifting people’s moods in a completely alienating time.

“Helping people to use sport and physical activity positively through challenging times is a privilege and one which carries huge responsibilities, and you took your duties seriously, using your initiative to create solutions to the embargo on most sport and physical activity – looking always to what was possible – thank you.”