Larkhall YMCA Harriers coach nominated for national youth work award

Willie Mowbray has been a dedicated and respected coach at Larkhall YMCA Harriers since 1981
-Credit: (Image: Contributed/Hamilton Advertiser)

A dedicated athletics coach who has spent more than four decades guiding young sports people is a finalist at the prestigious national youth work awards.

Willie Mowbray of Larkhall YMCA Harriers is one of three nominees in the category of volunteer of the year for his tireless work in running the club, supporting and developing generations of young athletes with many going on to earn national and international successes.

The much-loved and respected coach is described as “the glue that holds the community together” and “the kindest and most generous youth worker in the club”.

Willie has been nominated for the award at the annual event, run by Youthlink Scotland, with the winner to be announced at a ceremony in Glasgow next week.

He has been a coach at the club since 1981 and his award nomination called him “the backbone of Larkhall YMCA, dedicating over 42 years to shaping the lives of young people in his community” , and notes his “coaching prowess [and] unparalleled dedication”.

It states: “Willie’s impact extends far beyond the athletics track – generations of young people have found guidance and support under his mentorship, with some current athletes being the children of those he coached decades ago.

“Under his leadership, Larkhall YMCA has become more than just an athletics club; it’s a safe space where young people find belonging and support.

“His work in organising trips, coaching, and celebrating young people’s achievements have gained international recognition, reflecting the positive impact he has had on countless lives.

“At the heart of Willie’s approach is his firm belief in the transformative power of athletics as a form of youth work; through personalised guidance and unwavering support, he empowers young people not only to excel in sports but also to develop resilience and self-confidence.”

Larkhall YMCA president Ted Zokas said: “Willie’s dedication, especially during challenging times, has been instrumental in ensuring the YMCA’s survival and continued service to the young people of Larkhall.”

One of his young athletes contributed to the nomination and said: “I can’t thank Willie enough for everything he has done for me, and I hope this sheds light on the tremendous amount of hours he has dedicated to all of us.”

Willie has previously been honoured with a South Lanarkshire community service award for his tireless efforts in running the athletics club.

Youthlink Scotland chief executive Tim Frew said: “Youth workers’ invaluable contributions to the lives of countless young people deserve recognition – they are the unsung heroes strengthening our communities.”

Kirsten Urquhart, chief executive of volunteer category sponsors Young Scot, added: “We recognise the dedication and sacrifice volunteering takes and are delighted to support and celebrate the vital role youth workers play in helping young people reach their potential.”

The awards ceremony, described as a “showcase of excellence”, takes place on June 12.

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