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Volunteer of the Year Award Winner 2023: David McCann, Manchester and District Orienteering Club

The winner of British Orienteering’s Volunteer of the Year Award 2023 is David McCann from Manchester and District Orienteering Club.

Our Volunteer of the Year Award recognises an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to supporting the delivery of orienteering activities with passion, energy, and enthusiasm.

Huge congratulations go to David on winning this award! Here is what his nominees had to say about his work over the course of 2023 and beyond.

David McCann, Manchester and District Orienteering Club

David McCann was the overall coordinator for JK 2023. He dedicated an incredible amount of time and effort to this role, giving up almost every free evening and weekend for more than a year in preparation. The role involved countless hours of meetings, thousands of emails, crucial negotiations, site visits, equipment procurement, endless logistical planning and a tireless effort on the ground throughout the 4 events. To say that David has given more than a year of his life to this JK is no exaggeration. He was ever-present in the organisation, always available to liaise with the day organisers and planners, managing the teams and keeping the whole operation on track. Even while on holiday in Morocco months before the event, he could be found spending several hours a day sending JK emails and attending virtual meetings!

Throughout the organisation process, he calmly dealt with a wide range of problems as they occurred, not least storm damage leaving the original areas unusable and necessitating a complete overhaul of the weekend plan. At every setback David brought new ideas to the table and a solution was never far away. Few of us can understand the level of commitment required to arrange 4 consecutive events of the highest standard, suitable not only to host thousands of competitors, but also to provide international level competition for elite athletes, while managing delicate relationships with landowners, local residents and other stakeholders.

Thanks to his efforts the festival was highly successful, bringing orienteers to the Lake District from all around the world. The festival also provided vital World Ranking Events on British soil and David embraced this despite the huge extra logistical burden it involved. The 2023 event was widely regarded as one of the most enjoyable and popular JKs in recent years and whether they know it or not, more than 3000 orienteers owe David a debt of gratitude.

In addition to his volunteering with the JK, David has remained an active member of MDOC and has continued to chair the Greater Manchester Orienteering Association, ensuring that orienteering activities are available throughout the city, including to school children and disability groups. GMOA maintain permanent courses in more than 50 parks around Manchester and thanks to their good work, a huge number of people from all backgrounds have been able to enjoy the sport for the first time.

I strongly believe that no one in the country has given more of their time and effort to the sport this year, while remaining largely anonymous and receiving such little recognition and thanks. Hopefully receiving this award will show David some of the appreciation that he deserves.

We would once again like to congratulate David on winning the Volunteer of the Year Award 2023.


It’s important to us, to recognise the other clubs who were nominated for the Volunteer of the Year Award 2023. Here they are, alongside some of the comments regarding their contributions over the past year.

Nominees for Volunteer of the Year Award 2023

Euan Marsh, Southdowns Orienteers

“Because of Euan’s efforts, we have a strong group of regular Club Night runners who show up every week. We have gained 5 new members over the last year who started by coming to Club Night and enjoyed Euan’s activities enough to want more and try coming along to regular events. Even when there is a smaller turnout, he continues to plan and run high quality activities free of charge to help our club members practice their navigation skills in a fun way.

On top of this, Euan has started working as a volunteer mapper for the club - remapping areas ahead of their use for local events as needed. He has planned two events this year - one for our summer series and one in the spring, making map updates for these as well as for other runners.”

Sal Chaffey, Derwent Valley Orienteers

“Sal has been an inspirational volunteer for DVO. She has put her heart and soul into the club. Not only has she been chair for three years (and a committee member for much longer) but has pioneered a programme of level D events to encourage beginners and improvers to get involved with orienteering.

She has majored on the publicity for events, not only via social media, but in the field where she is regularly seen hanging posters/banners in advance of events. Her chatter for orienteering is infectious and her outreach is extensive.”

Klaas Wynne, Clydeside Orienteers

“Klaas is relatively new to Orienteering and very new to CLYDE orienteering. Being a lecturer at Glasgow University he has been the link and flame to ignite the clubs development project of starting sustainable and fun orienteering across Glasgow Universities’.

He has undertaken several large mapping projects on top of his day job being keen to grow the club and Glasgow orienteering scene. He has been a big boost in a recent recognition of energy in Clyde and everyone is grateful for all he does.”

Gordon Parker, South London Orienteers

“Gordon attends almost every event, and stores all of the club kit in his personal space. He doesn’t just turn up to help at almost every event but also then goes home, unloads all the kit by himself and ensures all the kit is in good condition, hanging up kites to dry etc.

He is also extremely generous with the use of his personal car for the club. He goes above and beyond what any club could expect of a volunteer.”

Steve Scott, Forth Valley Orienteers

“Steve is the most humble and devoted orienteering volunteer you will ever find. He has an absolute fountain of knowledge on all things to do with the sport and real driver behind FVO’s growth and inclusivity - most people join because of him.

He mentors many junior planners and advocates passionately on the committee for development, volunteer support and junior mentorship.

He is an inspiration to others, passes on his knowledge, is very responsive and often passes on his run to help out volunteering if the start is overwhelmed.”

Clive and Sally Wilkinson, Suffolk Orienteering Club

“Husband and wife, Clive and Sally Wilkinson are nominated together as they dove-tail together so well and contribute to both club and region

They successfully applied for Sport England grant aid to run CATI events in Ipswich and tied fixtures together to enable newcomers to progress onto simple summer series events. Clive, as lead coach, ties in online and in person training sessions to support new club members as well as ensuring experienced folk are ready to share across the club. Sally, as fixtures secretary, has battled ever changing requirements from landowners to coordinate all the activity that enables events to be held, working up to 3 years in advance. With Clive as regional junior coach, they are both ready to take youngsters to events across the county, region and country to support their skill development.”

Matthew Clark, Kingdom of Fife Orienteers

“Matthew has been the driving force behind KFO’s rebirth. He volunteers with SEDS and as an SOA tutor. A great inspiration and driver for orienteering.”

Graham Nilson, Deeside Orienteering Club

“Graham Nilsen made a huge contribution in 2022 and then in 2023 by putting on a series of eight double sprint events in local parks on each of those years. This was truly a one-man effort . Remarkably he mapped 12 new local parks and then organised and planned all the events himself with no help from any club members other than his wife Anna. These events were held in midsummer evenings when most our normal local orienteering areas were too overgrown to be usable and when few orienteering events were being organised by other Clubs, thus allowing members of DEE and neighbouring Clubs to maintain their orienteering activities through this period.

Additionally, Graham has been active in updating his own excellent maps of prime orienteering areas on the Sefton Coast such as  Ainsdale. His Altcar Camp map and updated Formby map will be used for regional events in 2024 and his Chester City map for a national and UKOL event also in 2024.”

Ian Gamlen, Harlequins Orienteering Club

“Ian has been an active orienteer and tireless volunteer for several years, stepping up to do committee work at both club and regional level, and event organisation (the hardest post to fill). Ian has volunteered as organiser for numerous events. He has done this for his first and second-claim clubs whilst he was a member of both HOC and COBOC.

He has a particular interest in promoting orienteering to newcomers via small-scale events targeted at beginners, families and schools; he also supports Birmingham City Council's community games events by providing an orienteering maze.”

Robert Vickers, Harlequins Orienteering Club

“Robert has been a stalwart of the sport and Harlequins Orienteering Club for over forty years.

As well as involvement in event organisation, planning and controlling, he has also mentored newer officials and served as club secretary for several years.

Robert currently continues to serve the club as one of the Landowner Liaison Officers with a large portfolio of areas, conducting sensitive negotiations over permissions with a high level of tact and diplomacy. He still competes regularly as an M80 and helps with marshalling at events. He is one of our most active orienteers in terms of events attended.”

Next up, we will be sharing details of the winner of the Young Volunteer of the Year Award 2023. Check our website or social media daily for the latest updates.