'Outstanding' Phil celebrates national lifetime achievement award
A MAN who has supported rowing in York for more than 40 years is celebrating after scooping a national lifetime achievement award.
Phil Jones has worked with York City Rowing Club for over 40 years - and all of his hard work has been recognised after he claimed the British Rowing Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual British Rowing Awards.
Phil has served rowing and York City Rowing Club in many roles, but his outstanding contribution has been as the junior coordinator at the club for 20 years. He has been responsible for hundreds of juniors participating in rowing in the city.
As well as his junior coaching work, Phil was the club secretary for over 20 years and he was also the Small Boats Head secretary for over 30 years.
Brian Snelson, president and trustee at York City Rowing Club, said: "I have been a member of York City Rowing Club for over 60 years and I have to think back to my very early days to imagine the club without Phil Jones.
"It was not long before he was not only rowing powerfully but taking on tasks to help run the club. He was the club secretary for so long that it was difficult to think of the job without him.
"At the same time he took over from the late John Leyne the running of the York Small Boats Head and built it up to one of the largest events in the UK.
"He can cap all that with his work with junior rowing. From being the coach who looked after juniors he has built an operation which outshines and outlasts better publicised attempts to establish opportunities for pupils outside the private schools."
Many of his athletes have stayed involved with rowing as adults. From club success, some became medallists at BUCS, Henley Royal Regatta and the U23 World Championships whilst others have become coaches – volunteer and professional.
"It speaks volumes that many of the ex-juniors return to coach when they are on vacation as students," said Phil Press, chairman of the rowing club in York.
Mr Jones has had great success with encouraging juniors from difficult backgrounds to succeed. He has helped mentor several juniors with issues into rounded individuals who would otherwise have "gone off the rails".
"Any one of these activities would be considered a major accomplishment but having done them all it is simply extraordinary," added Mr Press.
Phil has now decided that it is time to step back from his role and the club is undertaking the challenge of sharing the work he does.
Mr Press said: "Filling these massive shoes is not an easy task. People are amazed when they learn he does everything as a volunteer."