A TENNIS coach originally from west Cumbria is celebrating after being recognised at a recent awards ceremony.

Don Saul, 64, who used to live in Aspatria and was educated at the Nelson Grammar School in Wigton, was awarded volunteer of the year at the LTA Yorkshire Tennis Awards on December 9, 2019.

The awards recognise the winners’ outstanding contributions to grassroots tennis in Yorkshire.

Mr Saul fought off many competitors to win the competition after transforming Ackworth Tennis Club from a club on the verge of extinction at the start of 2018 to the flourishing, inclusive club it has become.

Richard Garrett, CEO of the Tim Henman Foundation explained: “I doubt that there is any other club in the country that has experienced the membership growth that Ackworth Tennis Club has achieved - from 17 to 136 in 18 months; a 700 per cent increase.

“This is down to the quality of the leadership and the coaching. Don Saul and Alice Robson need particular praise.

“They have embraced change and external partnerships with Ackworth School, Yorkshire Tennis, The Tim Henman Foundation and BECSLink.”

Mr Sault lived in Wigton until 1974 before moving away to study in Leeds and becoming a teacher for more than 30 years, assistant head of science and head of science.

During the awards Mr Saul’s leadership was recognised by the panel as being instrumental in helping to convert the club into an inclusive, diverse and dynamic organisation.

Mr Saul has worked tirelessly with a myriad of partners to develop the club and its links within the local community.

He took over the leadership as chairman at the start of 2018 and win instrumental in appointing a new head coach, in conjunction with Ackworth School, Yorkshire Tennis, the Tim Henman Foundation and BECSLlink.

This has proved pivotal in the club’s turnaround, boosting membership and allowing for the provision of a comprehensive coaching programme.

Mr Saul has worked with the LTA Disability Officer to ensure that courts are wheelchair accessible; and forging community links with College Lane Surgery in Ackworth, he is currently working to develop an innovative social prescription pilot scheme, to help patients with health challenges move from medication to exercise.