Maidstone Hockey Club’s Roger Daniels was selected as a Coronation Champion after over 40 years of dedicated volunteering for the club.
Daniels was nominated by the club committee as part of the Coronation Champion Awards and was recognised with an invite to the King’s Coronation Concert which was hosted at Windsor Castle on 7 May.
The Coronation Champion Awards were launched by the Royal Voluntary Service to celebrate the work of the countless number of volunteers up and down the United Kingdom.
The nomination process was a whole club and family process as Daniels’ grandson was included in writing the nomination.
“Our chairman, Nigel Swapper, contacted me to ask if I’d mind being nominated,” said Daniels. “I think part of the nomination process was that the nominee had to be aware of the nomination, so I knew that something was happening.
“I have no idea what was written about me, but what I do know, is that my grandson Alex was involved. He was 11 at the time and he rang me up pretending to have to do a project for school about the hockey club and what did I remember about things that that had happened in the last five years and what might be attributed to me, and I believe it was his script together with his mum that went forward to the chairman. I think it’s nice that they wrote it together.”
Receiving the invite in the post is something that Daniels won’t forget.
“We got a congratulations letter with the invite that explained that 5000 people has been nominated and 500 received an invite to the concert and you think ‘wow, that’s quite something’,” Daniels said. “I received a letter from the Royal Voluntary Service confirming the award together with a “Coronation Champion” certificate signed by the King and Queen. That was lovely and then I read further and there was the invitation to the concert. Then I was concerned because I am recovering from back surgery so I thought I couldn’t stand for a whole concert but my wife said ‘you’ve got a seat’. I couldn’t believe we had been invited let alone have a seat.”
The Coronation Concert was the highlight of the second day of celebration of King Charles III Coronation and Daniels and his wife were offered a spectacular view.
“On the day, it reminded me of going to a practice day for the British Grand Prix in Silverstone where there was just a buzz of anticipation and the helicopters up above,” Daniels added. “Walking towards Windsor Castle was the same. It was fabulous. You could see the stage from quite a distance away.
“As you got closer to the arena, there was a feeling of appreciation of the stewards, the police and actually more so on exit. It was rather like the 2012 walk to the Olympic Park, it was lively and fantastic.
“When we got to our seats we just looked around and thought everybody here had a volunteering story to tell and it was a very humbling experience. It was great to be sitting in the stand and seeing the crowd as it was getting bigger and bigger. The Royal stand was probably 60-70 metres from where we were sitting, and we could see one of two members of the Royal Family arriving.
“We were all given a light up wrist band and one moment we’re looking at the 10,000 strong crowd and the next it was just like a sea of blue twinkling lights, then the next moment red. The projections on the castle were amazing.
“I have never seen anything quite like the drones that were in the sky above the stage. It didn’t do it justice on TV. It was a real highlight of the evening seeing the projections on the Castle and just how clever the drones were.”
Daniels has spent most of his life dedicated to his club and has enjoyed every moment alongside his family.
“I think that when England Hockey came up with the expression, Hockey Family, it’s bang on because most clubs have some key families involved. My wife, Chris, got me into the sport and it was the usual way of we’re short players and will you play. I joined the club and became treasurer in 1978 and apart from a short break I’ve been treasurer to this day. So that’s easily 40 years of playing and volunteering for the club as treasurer or chairman. I’ve got two daughters, Lizzie and Claire, and they are 40 and 44, they played at the club as juniors. Lizzie used to play for England Masters and they both coach while all four of my grandchildren (Alex, Elsie, Harry and Grace) play the sport too.”
For anyone thinking of volunteering in sport, Daniels has this advice: “I think what I’d say to anybody is that hockey is for anyone and everyone. Hockey is a sport for life and the whole family. Anybody joining a club will have plenty of opportunities. It’s just great to volunteer. If you give it a try and if you don’t like it other things will come along. I haven’t done anything exceptional, all I’ve done is put my hand up to be a volunteer and stay with it.”
Know more about volunteering opportunities in hockey – https://www.englandhockey.co.uk/deliver/volunteer