23 Nov 18
David Ridley has been presented with a special England Golf Recognition Award to mark his retirement after 32 years as a national coach.
Ridley, who is based at Nottingham’s Coxmoor Golf Club, has called time on his career as an England coach having taught at both regional and national level.
The 66-year-old collected his award during a gala dinner at the annual coaching conference at Woodhall Spa Golf Club.
“It’s a privilege and an honour to receive this – and quite a shock too,” said Ridley, who was greeted with a standing ovation when collecting his award.
Ridley, a PGA Master Professional, first became involved as a regional boys’ coach in 1986, but from 1997 he worked with the national men’s squads and players such as Tommy Fleetwood, Chris Woods, Eddie Pepperell and Andy Sullivan.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” he added. “They still keep in touch, they send a text. They’re just great lads.”
Ridley has been involved in two European team championship victories and numerous home international wins. His personal highlight was the European gold medal of 2010, when England beat hosts Sweden after losing in the previous two finals.
As a player Ridley also tasted success. He represented Great Britain & Ireland against the USA in two PGA Cup matches, in 1979 and 1981, helping the team to a win and a draw. He also played in five Open championships between 1969 and 1984. He’s semi-retired now but continues to coach at Coxmoor.
John Vallely, pictured right, also came away from the conference with an award after being named Squad Coach of the Year for his efforts with the England Golf North region girls’ squad.
Vallely, from Matfen Hall in Northumberland, has coached three outstanding female golfers who have all come through the England Golf North squad.
Cumbria’s Caitlin Whitehead won European Young Masters and then helped Europe to a clean sweep in the Asia Pacific Junior Championship, while Northumberland’s Jess Baker and Rosie Belsham have played their way convincingly on to the national scene.
“There’s a lot more waiting in the wings,” said Vallely. “They’re on a mission, they’ve been pulled along by watching Caitlin, Rosie and Jess, they’re inspired and it’s given them belief and made them work harder. It’s like a mini-explosion and we want to keep it going.”
Vallely, who is supported by squad manager Bryan Ross, ensures there’s a pipeline of talent by also coaching the girls in the North of England Futures, made up of players who are pushing for places in the regional line-up.
“I absolutely love it, I live and breathe it,” Vallely added. “You do make a lot of sacrifices, but it’s really satisfying to help them understand their game and themselves.”