Recognition for the volunteers who keep cycling's grassroots alive and healthy...

British Cycling has announced the shortlist of nominations for its Local Cycling Heroes, a campaign to recognise the  work done by cycling’s grassroots volunteers across the UK.

At the top of the British Cycling tree are the full-time coaches and administrators who run the organisation and spearhead efforts like the lottery-funded performance programme that has led to Olympic medals galore in recent years.

But without the broad base of volunteers at the grassroots running clubs, marshalling races, helping out at Sky rides, using cycling to build stronger communities, getting more women and disabled people on bikes, and coaching youngsters, there would be no pinnacle for prospective Olympians to aspire to.

From almost one hundred entries, British Cycling has shortlisted 24 volunteers who each play a pivotal role in their communities by inspiring others to get the most out of their bike riding.

One rider who understands the importance of volunteers is double track world champion Becky James. Her family had their hands full caring for her severely disabled sister Bethan.

“Volunteers are essential to cycling in this country,” she says. “Without them we wouldn’t have a sport and we certainly wouldn’t have Olympic and World Champions. I know how much volunteers have helped my career, so it's great to see so many people being recognised for giving up their time for cycling. I'd urge everyone to get behind their Local Cycling Heroes and vote!”

Local Cycling Heroes will be selected from the 24 nominees by popular vote on the SkyRide website. Voting closes on Friday August 30. The individuals with the most votes will be crowned British Cycling’s Local Cycling Hero for their region and win prizes including VIP tickets to the National Track Championships in Manchester in November.

British Cycling’s Local Cycling Hero nominees

North West region

Sue Blaylock: accessible cycling champion
Sandra Green: inspiring women to take up cycling
Peter Ward: driving force behind an impressive cycle route

Yorkshire and North East region

Naz Ali: using cycling to make a difference to communities
Bill Cheadle: helping cycling stars excel
Rob Mawhood: changing the face of cycle speedway

Scotland region

Carl Lane: determined club supporter and motivator
Rich Latimer: trail builder extraordinaire
John McCracken: promoting cycling skills and confidence

Midlands region

Maryam Amatullah: challenging perceptions about women’s cycling
Ian McFadyen: charity cyclist and ride leader
Richard Smith: a leading light in transplant cycling

Central & East region

Ralph Bagge: committed Ride Leader & infrastructure campaigner
Lyn Gilbert: cycle training superstar
Roy Pink: bike repairer and enthusiast

London region

Paulo Cotrim: helping kids from all backgrounds get into BMX
Spencer Harradine: coach, organiser & advocate
Tony Harvey: making inclusive cycling a reality in East London

South East region

Annette Covey: disability cycling champion
Tom Morton: first class club cycling supporter
Shaun Reed: inspiring young people to get into cycling

South / South West / Wales region

Michele Radant: on a mission to get Devon cycling
Paul Smith: inspirational charity cyclist
John Wheat: enthusiastic social ride organiser

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.