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“Community hero” wins national award for his work in Exeter

Published: 5 February 2020

Volunteer Coolen and Heavitree Pleasure Ground

A “community hero” has won a national award for his work encouraging people to play tennis on park courts in Exeter.

Coolen Peryandan, who is a volunteer with Parklife Heavitree, has been named Volunteer of the Year by the charity Tennis For Free.

Coolen is involved in the weekly Tennis For Free sessions held on Exeter City Council courts in Heavitree Pleasure Ground.

Coolen said: “I was asked to do the admin for Heavitree Tennis For Free as I’ve been involved now for three years. I do the Admin and make sure the coaches are paid and handle player registration. As I support TFF, I also support Park Life Heavitree to run volleyball in the park and try to promote sport in Heavitree Park and the surrounding area.”

Tennis for Free praised the work carried out by Coolen: “What is standout from Coolen above the many volunteers that work for TFF, that we're all tremendously grateful for, is his drive to be involved in TFF activities outside of the session. Coolen assists the delivery team in all administration and promotional duties of Heavitree Park and without him, the site would be a shadow of what it currently is.”

Ben Hunt, Trustee of Park Life Heavitree, said “Coolen is one of our community heroes. He is passionate about sport and has been the figurehead of Heavitree Volleyball for the last few years, coaching, running sessions, playing and organising tournaments and events.

He added: “In summer he is always in the park and pops up a volleyball net if the weather is fine, even if there is no session planned!”

Heavitree Park Volleyball Tournament has been running for three years and 2019 saw 28 teams compete from across the South West.

The work of Coolen helped Heavitree to 7th place in the national user numbers for Tennis For Free sites - out 123 in the UK!

“Coolen really is a star and deserves his award as volunteer of the year!” added Ben. 

Tennis For Free aims to bring more than 175,000 new tennis players, 2,000 coaches and 5,000 volunteers into the sport. The charity, which runs free community tennis sessions at public parks across the UK, including Heavitree and Cowick Barton Playing Fields, works with several partners to bring the opportunity to play the game to as many hard to reach communities as possible, benefiting those with limited access to sport, enhancing physical and mental well-being and re-energising people of all ages.  

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