BBC Unsung Hero 2014: Simon Gifford-Mead is South West winner

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Rowing coach is South West Unsung Hero

Rowing coach Simon Gifford-Mead has won the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero Award for the South West of England.

The 68-year-old has been involved with Dart Totnes Amateur Rowing Club in Devon for 25 years and had helped win a grant to build a new boathouse and training facilities.

He still devotes hours every week to the club, despite recently being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Gifford-Mead said:"On behalf of all of the coaches and helpers I accept this."

While he can no longer row due to his illness, Gifford-Mead still coaches dozens of young rowers and takes them up and down the country for regattas.

"There are two options, one is to sit in the corner and just disappear, the other is to carry on," Gifford-Mead said of his illness.

The club has been in existence since 1861 and over half of the club's members are young rowers.

"He's a great coach," said rower Matt Swiss.

"He spends hours here at the club every week, not just enhancing our athletes, but the whole club."

Fellow coach Ray Bedder said Gifford-Mead has had an impact on athletes outside of the sport as well.

"The kids know they can always contact him if they've got a problem," said Bedder.

"He'll drive them around the country, he'll be with them at every event, he is a 24/7 coach."