A CREWKERNE Rugby Club volunteer has made the shortlist for a prestigious national award, having been nominated for her inspirational exploits as a finalist by Somerset RFU.

Emma Nebel, who lives in Over Stratton (near South Petherton), has been recognised for her tireless work as the driving force behind the newly-formed Crewkerne Ladies team.

Nebel began by organising taster sessions with club and RFU coaches, and has now been put forward for the final national shortlist for the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer of the Year 2020.

The programme gives grassroots rugby clubs the opportunity to recognise their volunteers and Nebel, who runs Crewkerne recruitment agency Broadreach Group, admits she was blown away by her nomination.

The 43-year-old said: “I’m really proud. It’s very humbling and I’m chuffed.

“I’m also very aware other people are just as deserving.

“It’s absolutely wonderful and I’m blown away - but lots of other people give huge amounts to our club as well.

“You can’t underestimate the support of other volunteers.

“These awards reassure people you can make a positive difference.

“My playing days are done but I want to keep giving to the game and pass on that enjoyment.

“You can still give and contribute to your club off the pitch which, in itself, is hugely rewarding.

“You do it to get people to share and enjoy the game.

“In our case, it was to introduce a lot of women to the game, as getting people to give it a try is the hardest thing.

“Once you have that diversity of players, the growth comes naturally, but starting from the beginning is very challenging and there were definitely nerves on my part at the first session to see who would come.”

Nebel’s nomination also saw her receive a special video message from former England star Danielle Waterman.

The Crewkerne Ladies side started with 20 players in 2018, growing year on year to have more than 35.

The club runs through the blood of the Nebel family, with husband Matt the club’s chairman, and daughter Izzy, 19, and son Sam, 13, also involved.

Nebel, who will discover if she is a national winner in a virtual ceremony tomorrow (March 19), added: “If people see that volunteering is enjoyable and not consuming, more people are likely to contribute.

“Whether that’s making teas or being a head coach, it’s all important and as a club we work very hard to make sure the load is spread.

“Without volunteers, there would be no club.

“Just try it, go to your local club and soak up the atmosphere - you’ll be addicted very quickly, I can assure you.”

You can find out more about the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer Recognition Programme and how to volunteer to help your local rugby club here.