Ripley’s Ben Rigby is vowing not to rest on his laurels after scooping a prestigious prize in front of Warren Gatland and Sir Ben Ainslie at the UK Coaching Awards in Marble Arch.
Rigby claimed the Gillette Community Coach of the Year Award at the glittering ceremony in front of British & Irish Lions head coach Gatland and four-time Olympic champion Ainslie.
Having worked at Sporting Futures in Ripley, he was recognised for setting up Sporting Communities 18 months ago, which works with schools, young people and adults to increase partaking in sport.
And Rigby, who admits it has been quite a journey since co-founding the organisation, believes there is a lot more to come after his evening with Gatland and Ainslie.
“It’s been quite overwhelming actually,” he said.
“We’ve been really lucky that we have volunteer directors who are passionate about the work we do as well.
“We’ve got an ethos saying ‘you’re only as good as your last day’s work’, so every day we go out we deliver top quality and meet the needs of people we’re working with.
“People have taken a shine to what we’ve been doing and they want us to come back and do more.
“It’s just going from strength to strength.”
He continued: “It’s nice to have the recognition but ultimately if this means we can do more good for the people we’re working with, that’s what it’s all about really.
“To win was a bit of a shock but it was fantastic.”
Rigby and Gatland, who won the UK Coach of the Year Award, were among 12 winners on the night as achievements in developing sport in a wide community over the past year were recognised.
Despite only being in his 20s, Rigby has already led a much-travelled life.
His adventures in sport and youth work have already led him to France, and he insists that he wouldn’t want to swap his previous experiences for anything.
He added: “I was always quite sporty and did a lot of sprinting actually, but I drifted away from that after competing at quite a high level.
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“What I did then was get involved in youth work, I worked in France, then down in Surrey, so I’ve been all over the place really.
“It’s hard to explain why I love it so much but it’s just taken over my life – the passionate people I work with help make it even better.”
n The 2013 Gillette Great Starts’ campaign celebrates community coaches and inspires the next generation of coaches by providing them with grants to fund their next level qualifications. Applications for coaching grants available through the scheme will reopen in 2014, visit www.facebook/com/GilletteUK for more details.