At the London Youth Awards in March 2017, Sam Grant won the Young Leader of the Year Award for his incredible voluntary work at Hillingdon Slipstreamers. On Wednesday 31st May 2017, Sam spoke at Buckingham Palace as part of a celebration event for London Youth’s 130th anniversary.

Sam Grant at Buckingham PalaceMy name is Sam Grant and I am 25 years old from Uxbridge, Hillingdon. I am the winner of London Youth’s Young Leader of the Year Award, and would like to tell you more about my journey, from when I started at The Hillingdon Slipstreamers to now, being an active volunteer & coach.

I was a member of this children’s cycling club from ages 8-16. It is a cycling charity and there I loved being able to ride & race my bike.

They gave me the opportunity to become a cycling coach, and have been volunteering there ever since.

The head coach there at the time when I was a member was Brian Wright. He was very much part of my life. He helped me as a rider but also as a person as I had special needs. He helped me to be the person I am today.

He encouraged me to become a coach and I eventually started volunteering 8 hours a week alongside him. In 2012 Brian passed away and it tore me apart as I’d spent the last 12 years with a person who was my coach, my mentor and most importantly my friend.

It took me a while to get my strength back but I had the support of everyone at all the clubs Brian and I coached at. I made it my mission to stand by Brian’s wishes and become a level 2 coach which I achieved 4 months after he left us.

In the next few years I became closer to the club and grew in confidence again and wanted to help the riders to become more confident in themselves. I am often telling riders: don’t panic, don’t overthink, look ahead and believe in yourself.

In 2015 the club started to run Monday night workshops in the winter to help the children to be educated on how to improve their training. I also realised when I was a member I found it difficult to balance school work and my training for races, so I came up with the Winter Challenge. The children would record their overall goal and would give them a reward if they managed to balance not only their training goal but also their personal goal whatever they feel they might want to achieve.

Helping and coaching the children of this generation has reminded me of how I felt when I was member and I can relate to how they might feel to give them the best advice I can. This is more than just a club, it’s family to me and I don’t know where I would be without them.

Thank you to Dave George for nominating me for this award and helping me. Thank you for listening.