Newtown club member recognised for contribution

A MEMBER of Newtownstewart GC has been recognised for her valuable contribution to the club and in particular the development of the next generation of players.
On Thursday evening, the club’s Junior Convenor Karen Ballantine was presented with the Tyrone award at the virtual Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport awards, proudly supported by EBS Mortgage Masters.  
Karen has been youth convenor for the past 10 years and during that time has left no stone unturned in encouraging and facilitating young people to participate in the sport.
She has earned a reputation as hard-working, enthusiastic, caring, professional and reliable and is highly respected by the parents and carers. With their support, each year Karen has organised lessons for 20 juniors and had upwards of 40 participating in the Summer Juniors programme. 
Karen has ensured that all young people interested in golf could avail of equipment provision, discounting group coaching and second-hand golf gear where needed and has provided opportunities for the juniors to play at other clubs. 
She has also organised visits to the Opens held in NI as well as fun days, dinners and prizegiving. By encouraging and facilitating young people to participate in the sport, not only have many went on to be active members of the club but they have made many new friendships. 
During her time at the helm, the affable convenor has introduced the concept of Junior Captains and the club’s Claret Jugs, which are contested keenly each year. 
While it will be universally acknowledged that the unassuming Newtown member is a fitting recipient of the prestigious award, Karen said she preferred to view it as recognition of the work being done at the club. 
“It’s nice for the golf club to receive the recognition more so than myself,” she said.
“I have always been interested in sport, both golf and badminton, and my kids followed me into both sports. I would have coached a wee bit at badminton years ago and helped out at the golf. Becoming Junior Convenor seemed a natural progression once the kids followed me into the sport.
“When I was younger I had a great Junior Convenor. I came from Whitehead originally, we had a great convenor there who was giving something back. I probably wouldn’t have got involved had it not been for her all those years ago.”

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