Forum member David Walsh of Sporting Communities was a finalist in the BBC Sports Personality East Midlands Unsung Hero Awards.
David (27) from Alvaston, is Derbyshire Community Development Officer for Sporting Communities, and last year was UK Coaching Ambassador and Children’s Coach of the Year.
But this all a far cry from a sad start in life. Aged only 10 he looked on helplessly while his dad Dave died trying to rescue two young cousins from the sea at Ingoldmells, near Skegness.
The loss of his dad had a profound effect on David’s confidence, self-esteem and his mental health, and also on his mother who suffered depression and became dependent on David emotionally, with the youngster having to take on responsibility for running the family home.
David began to seek solace with undesirable company who rapidly escalated towards anti-social behaviour and association with a toxic gang culture.
But David wanted to change and this path started when he began to volunteer at the local youth engagement session run by Sporting Communities. Inspired, he took up coaching, and his talent and enthusiasm were recognised by the current managing director of Sporting Communities, Ben Rigby, which resulted in him becoming a lead community coach.
He has now committed 11 years volunteering and full-time work to developing early intervention and prevention programmes targeting the most disadvantaged and needy areas in Derby and his role has expanded to becoming full-time development officer for Derbyshire.
As well as running multiple sports and social action sessions he has attracted investment from partner organisations.
He has helped thousands of youngsters and his efforts have inspired young people to achieve their full potential by joining a sporting team or club, having a healthy lifestyle or gaining employment.
David has even mentored individuals in his own time and raised funds for charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support through long distance events.
David said: “Although I did not win it was nice to be nominated and get some recognition.”