Joy for Norfolk runners Dudley Garner and Liam Hunt after national awards from England Athletics
PUBLISHED: 11:15 05 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:43 05 November 2017
He has helped scores of people get fit and healthy through running, after the activity saved him from the depths of despair following a traumatic brain injury.
And now Dudley Garner, 35, has been honoured with a national award from England Athletics for his efforts.
Mr Garner, of Shotesham All Saints, said he was shocked but thrilled to have won the ‘Run Together Leader/Group of the Year’ category at the volunteer awards night, which was held at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
Mr Garner said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked.
“The evening itself was incredible with numerous stories of people doing incredible things. I felt very overwhelmed and completely out of place being there.”
Mr Garner was presented with the award by Olympic runner Donna Fraser. He also got to meet Team GB’s gold-medal winning 4x100m relay squad from the Athens Olympics - Jason Gardener, Darren Campbell, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis Francis.
Mr Garner was hit by a car when walking home in Norwich eight years ago and it was running that saved him from suicidal thoughts.
Over the past year he has been helping others lead a more active life as a run leader, in charge of an Up The Tempo Couch To 5k running group, which takes place at Eaton Park.
He said: “I believed I had no reason to live for a time after my accident. My children and wife gave me the fight to hang in there and now knowing what I am doing is benefitting others makes me determined to make the most of the cards I have been dealt.”
And Mr Garner was not the only runner from the region to have been honoured at the awards - University of East Anglia student Liam Hunt won a Young Volunteer of the Year category for his dedication to helping others enjoy running.
Mr Hunt is a coach with Special Olympics Norfolk and is on the committee of the University of East Anglia Athletics Club.
He is also on the youth panel group for England Athletics, volunteered at the London 2017 World Para championships, and at the London 2017 Worlds.
Mr Hunt said: “Volunteering has so many different roles - this makes it great fun. I would urge everyone to get involved as it is so rewarding.”