Volunteer of the Year Finalist – Debra Cavill

She is famous for secret washing powder and often gets tearful when compering gymnastics events.

Debra Cavill, a bundle of endless energy, lives and breathes Llanelli Gymnastics Club:

“If I was a stick of rock, it would have Llanelli Gymnastics Club running right through it!” laughs the 51-year-old.

“I just love to see the children enjoying it, the camaraderie – everything!”

No Welsh Gymnastics Women’s Artistic event is the same without the voice of Debra Cavill. She comperes events for the club, the West area and at national level:

“I see them coming through the ranks from just three or four years old to competing,” she says, becoming rather emotional. “Every child has just worked so hard to get there. I get really overwhelmed as I think back to a few years ago when they couldn’t do a cartwheel.

“You hear so much about kids getting involved in drugs and alcohol. But if they get involved in a sport, that doesn’t happen. It’s such a pleasure to see them doing something constructive.”

Debra’s love affair with Llanelli Gymnastics Club began when daughter Sophie was three years old:

“I took her along to a recreational class. I’m quite a bubbly and outgoing person so they soon had me collecting fees which was brilliant because I got to know everybody.”

It wasn’t long before she was helping out with warm-ups and singing nursery rhymes at the class. And soon after, she was coordinating the recreational classes, devising session plans for the coaches and making sure everything was going smoothly.

“As Sophie became more involved, so did I. I qualified as a level two artistic coach and six years ago I set up a parent and toddler group.”

Her daughter quit gymnastics at the age of 15, but eight years later Debra is still a firm fixture at the club:

“I’m not just for Christmas, I’m for life,” she jokes. “I wouldn’t quit in a million years. I love it too much. We’re like one big family. We do everything as a team. We even go on holidays together! I have made lifelong friends from across Wales and the UK.”

Coach and compere, Debra is also committee member, cleaner, kit manager and fundraiser. She is also a member of the Welsh Women’s Technical Committee. Her extraordinary commitment, which sees her putting in 25 hours a week to the sport, has recently earned her the coveted title of British Gymnastics Volunteer of the Year.

And lets not forget that secret washing powder:

“I take all 100 leotards home and wash them by hand. I am known for my secret washing powder which makes them sparkle. I love to see my house lit up in pink! You should see them all when they’re all on my washing line. My neighbours think I’m mad!”