With the end of June hurtling towards us, it should be time for the club to vote for the latest recipient of the Russell Trophy. This would mark the fourth time the trophy has been awarded since we introduced it in 2018, and would have been the third time that the winner would be decided by club votes. It is democracy in action.
The trophy was introduced to recognise our members for their contribution to the club. It was named as a thank you to Hugh and Jackie for all they have done for our members over the years and we had to emphasise to Hugh that it was most definitely a recognition and not a memorial.
Given the trophy’s name, we all agreed that Hugh should be the first recipient and when we presented him with it at our Christmas night out in 2018, it was my honour to share the many warm comments, as well as a few cheeky ones, that the club made about him. Hugh even admitted that I almost got to him. Almost. The lengthy round of applause for Hugh as he shook hands with everyone was a fitting tribute and the best possible launch for the trophy.
We decided that the trophy would be presented every six months and all members would have an equal vote. Everyone votes for three members, with first, second and third place awarded 5-3-1 points. This ensures we get a deserved winner that is consistently recognised across the club.
What are the criteria for winning the trophy? We split it into six high level categories although it is up to everyone how these are interpreted.
Like the stories we gathered for Hugh, members are encouraged to supply comments why they are voting for a person. This has already turned into one of the best traditions and a highlight of our club as the levels of warmth, affection and encouragement in the comments has been incredible. It is clear that people put a lot of thought, heart and soul into the comments and everyone seems genuinely touched by the views of their fellow members.
All voting and comments are anonymous, so we get the fun game of “guess the commenter”.
We have had two rounds of club voting so far, in June and December 2019 with Ross Walton winning in June and John Marley taking home the trophy in December. Both were hugely deserving winners and you can see photos of them being presented here.
Of course, it will not have escaped anyone’s notice that these are unusual times. Like the rest of the country, BMAC has been in lockdown since mid-March, with all training being virtual sessions. These have taken place every week, including our Virtual Lockdown Knockdown night, and we have had up to 25 members involved in these. Given the efforts by all to keep the spirit and camaraderie of the club alive during the lock down, it was agreed that the trophy would be symbolically presented to the whole club. Whilst not everyone will get to keep the trophy, it recognises that keeping us going has very much been a team effort and everyone has demonstrated the qualities that the trophy embodies.
Hopefully, there is some light at the end of the tunnel and by the end of the year, we will be able to crown the next deserving winner of the trophy.
Until then, everybody wins!
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.