Who We Are

Gwenda Ward,  the 5  Star 5 Steps project leader, is an ex-Olympic athlete, former member of the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) women’s committee, a former PE teacher and current coach. She has written extensively on the causes of female under-performance in the sport, a topic which fired her interest in the psychology of performance. In 2015 she completed an M.Sc on the links between sport psychology and personal resilience and is now researching ways in which coaches could enhance the personal resilience of young athletes for a PhD.  Her philosophy is that athletics involvement can and should be the vehicle for resilient personal growth for its participants.

In 2011 Gwenda set up the Tony Ward Memorial Trust which aims to enhance good quality coaching opportunities for young people in Cumbria. Shaun O’Donnell (see below) has been central to that work and has also provided much valued mentoring to Gwenda in her role as a coach.

Shaun O’Donnell,  has  over forty years of coaching experience in athletics and  has developed an extensive repertoire of skills which are relevant from  schools level  through to national and international arenas.  As an ex decathlete himself, Shaun can coach any event and has guided both throwers and jumpers through to schools international level. His reputation as a coach extends throughout the North West.

At the induction level, for example 5 Star 5 Steps,  Shaun’s philosophy is based on learning through fun –  in which motor skills and fitness are also developed.

Tom McNab, although not directly involved in delivering the 5 Star 5 Steps project, Tom, ex National Coach, novelist,  playwright, sport historian and commentator on the state of the sport, deserves a place here.  The originator of the Five Star Award in the 1960s, (discontinued when the AAA was replaced by England Athletics) he is a leading authority on teaching track and field athletics and has been generous in his encouragement regarding the development of this project.  Although we can’t now quite remember who first said “Five Star was great, but it should have had teaching points as well”  it was probably Tom and, without doubt, he is fully responsible for the impact that the Five Star Award Scheme had here –  and continues to have around the world.