The Keep Fit Association Volunteer of the Year Awards 2015

Overall winner – Sheila Howarth

Sheila Howarth – Teacher member winner

Sheila has taught KFA for 40 plus years. As a teacher, she has helped develop people’s self-confidence to the extent that many have gone on to perform for the first time. In her 15 years, in a voluntary capacity as organiser and producer of the East Midlands KFA regional team, Sheila encouraged a group of members to learn and perfect demonstration items which could be performed at any time, any place, anywhere.

Left: Sheila Howarth Right: Janice Moore - President, The Keep Fit Association

Left: Sheila Howarth
Right: Janice Moore – President, The Keep Fit Association

Sheila found opportunities for them to perform, while at the same time promoting the KFA, in market places, fetes and at other events. Sheila encouraged others to teach and is responsible for a generation of KFA teachers that are still with us. She continues to bring on teachers by still training locally today and Sheila undertook training across the length and breadth of the country. Sheila’s core classes in Nottingham flourished and she brought many members to the association. When she ‘retired’ and moved to the Lincolnshire coast, she created a fantastic new cluster of dedicated keep fitters over in Sutton on Sea with nearly 100 new members from a zero base.

Sheila has organised, from scratch, KFA day by the sea which has run now for over 5 years, making a profit every year and drawing in crowds from members across the East Midlands and further afield. Sheila’s Sutton on Sea ladies and the regional demonstration team perform at the Sutton on Sea carnival and the carnival organisers regularly honour Sheila for her contributions to their event – the Sutton on Sea KFA class has won the best carnival team 3 years running, raising the positive profile for the KFA.

Sheila is an excellent choreographer and has over the years been responsible for planning and producing items for the National KFA – who will ever forget Treadmill at the Royal Albert Hall. She produces wonderful demonstration items nationally, regionally and locally with her special gift of wit and humour.

Sheila also takes on her share of the important admin side of the Association. She was Notts KFA Chair 1978/79 and East Midlands Chair 1998/9.

Sheila’s reaction to winning

To say I was surprised when I was informed that I had won this award is an understatement!
How can I be rewarded for doing something I have loved and enjoyed for many years? For the satisfaction and pride I have when a member says “that was great”, “I really enjoyed that” or when I see a new nervous member sitting on her own, who by the end of the class is chatting to others, then saying to me ‘see you next week’, as she leaves with a new friend.

Left: Sheila Howarth Right: Grace Beckett - Chair, The Keep Fit Association

Left: Sheila Howarth
Right: Grace Beckett – Chair, The Keep Fit Association

I have been blessed working with so many friends  – from Mrs. Class member, KFA Teachers, Trainers from around the country and special friend, the late Brenda Coldwell.
I always say ‘I take my teaching very seriously, but I am not serious about it’
I have enjoyed every moment and feel very proud to receive this award.
Thanks to all my KFA friends past and present

Committee member winner

Judy Mepham – Committee member winner

Judy has been a member of the KFA for 43 years and, for over 30 years, has served on many Hampshire KFA Committees and is currently Hampshire Membership Liaison Officer. At Southern Counties level, Judy was a Regional Rep and Events Committee member. At National level, she was Southern Counties Regional Director on the Board and Blackpool Championships Committee Chairman. During 2013, Hampshire KFA’s charity for the year was the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance. Judy raised funds that year and, since then, has been collecting old bras which helped not only the Air Ambulance funds but also a charity which helped women in Africa.

Left: Judy Mepham Right: Janice Moore President, The Keep Fit Association

Left: Judy Mepham
Right: Janice Moore President, The Keep Fit Association

Judy works tirelessly, organising events in Hampshire such as rallies and festivals plus her charity work. She always comes up with good ideas and can never say no when asked to do anything for the KFA at any level. Always cheerful and supportive, she motivates us all in class and committee meetings. As Membership Liaison Officer, she tries to bring in more members to the KFA.




Judy’s reaction to winning

How often do you get rewarded for being part of an Association you are passionate about and that has given you so many wonderful opportunities over a lifetime? Not just classes, which have kept me fit, but performances, travel and lifelong friendships. Many years ago I joined Hampshire’s committee as I wanted to repay the KFA for all the pleasure it had given me. Little did I know that I would then move on to Regional and National levels. I love the KFA and will continue to do all I can to support and promote it. I am amazed and honoured to receive this award.

Member winner

Sheila Lancaster – Member winner

Sheila Lancaster3

Sheila Lancaster

Sheila has been an unstinting fundraiser, minute and social secretary for the Plymouth KFA Committee for 27 years. She acts as caterer at events, which includes providing cakes and scones (her speciality being pineapple cake). She has been a member of the Woodland Fort class, which she helped to found, for the majority of her 47 membership years but has also participated in other classes. When there are fund raising events, she gently badgers us for draw prizes and bring and buy items as well as reminding us at regular intervals about the up and coming dates. Sheila has been a long standing member of our annual display team and always encourages new members to join.

Every association needs a reliable leader and Sheila is just such a person but she is a gentle and understanding one and is always ready to listen and advise with her sensible and quiet comments. This quality has never failed to resolve a tricky situation. She uses just the right amount of persuasion when delegating tasks to any working party and manages to fire everyone with enthusiasm. Sheila has also had more than her fair share of serious family illnesses over the years but she has always uncomplainingly committed herself to the KFA with a quiet and modest smile and calm attitude.

Sheila’s reaction to winning

Thank you very much for your letter this morning, I was absolutely amazed that I had been chosen as Volunteer of the Year 2015 Member Section Winner. I really thought I had heard the last of it, so my first reaction on reading your letter was that I couldn’t believe it, but I am absolutely thrilled for all the ladies in our class – The Woodland Ladies Keep Fit Class, Plymouth, leader Mary Lakeman.