Inspirational golf volunteers Marlan Cox (left) and Jim Pocknell (right) have been chosen as Olympic torchbearers and will help to carry the flame through their communities on its relay round the UK.
Jim, the chairman of the Kent Golf Partnership, will carry the torch in Deal on July 19 – his birthday. “What a birthday present!” he said. Marlan, a volunteer with the Golf Foundation’s national project, HSBC Golf Roots, will take his turn in Haringey, London, on July 25. “It was a big, big surprise, I just thought ‘wow!’” he said.
Both Jim and Marlan were nominated by Sport England after their names were put forward by the England Golf Partnership (EGP). The Partnership brings together the amateur governing body, England Golf, and the Professional Golfers’ Association to grow the game with the support of the Golf Foundation and Sport England.
Jim Pocknell, a member at Bearsted, Gillingham and Royal Blackheath Golf Clubs, has made an extraordinary contribution to golf at all levels for 30 years: within his clubs, with the Kent County Union and, for the last six years, with the Kent Golf Partnership, which works to grow the game in the county.
When The Open Championship was held at Royal St George’s last year, Jim was closely involved in the partnership’s Open Legacy project which recruited and trained volunteer ambassadors to work alongside PGA professionals and inspire new golfers to take up the game. The project won a development award from the PGAs of Europe.
Jim has been recognised by the England Golf Partnership at its Volunteer of the Year Awards, having received the lifetime achievement/services to golf award.
He remarked about his role as torchbearer: “To be a part of this Olympic Year by carrying the Olympic Torch is something I would never have thought possible and I am very grateful to Sport England for nominating me. It’s a great honour for me and my family and it’s wonderful to be able to represent my sport of golf and hopefully encourage more people to take up this great game.”
Marlan Cox has spent the last three years volunteering with HSBC Golf Roots, the Golf Foundation’s initiative to provide golfing opportunities for children and young people in cities and urban areas as well as in schools and clubs.
Marlan, 21, lives and works in Tower Hamlets, where he is a multi-sport coach at Langdon Park School, and he has been closely involved in the development of Street Golf. It’s proved a hit in his neighbourhood and, he hopes, will help to change attitudes about the game.
He has also taken Tri-Golf into schools and volunteered at festivals, including three national primary school finals at Loughborough University. “My role as a coach is to make sure children get as much enjoyment from the sport as possible – and they love Tri-Golf. It’s simple, it’s attractive and it’s fun” he said.
Looking ahead to being part of the Olympic torch relay Marlan commented: “It’s not just for me, it’s for my family and friends and for the Golf Foundation. They deserve it for the work they do to get out there for the kids.”
The torch relay starts at Land’s End in Cornwall on the morning of May 19 and will travel 8,000 miles around the UK.