London Sport Awards 2021 nominees: Volunteer of the Year - Warren King
FULHAM Reach Boat Club’s Warren King has an incredible story: prison to being nominated in the London Sport Awards in a very short space of time.
Warren admits his upbringing was a difficult one, with few positive role models, no outside support and where violence, anger, and lies were a common theme at home.
This led to drug use from a young age, which alienated him from his peers and he left school with no qualifications, became depressed, angry, and experimented with other substances.
He then progressed to selling the very thing that was holding him back in life which, in turn, led to a period of incarceration at HMP Brixton.
It was here though that Warren found the Boats not Bars programme run by Fulham Reach Boat Club (FRBC), a club that changed his life.
Warren said: “I’ll be totally candid with you, I’m an ex-prisoner, I was in prison for drug-related offences, and at the time I was very depressed, I was using drugs every day, things like cocaine, MDMA and cannabis.
“I was really underweight, I wasn’t very well and my mental health was really poor, but I actually found fitness in prison, when I was probably at my lowest.
“I was then lucky enough to come into contact with Fulham Reach Boat Club while I was in prison.
“That really gave me direction and hope. I was really lost, I was in a dark place, and fitness as well as education gave me that impetus to move forward.
“Because of lockdown, the boat club who had helped me immeasurably, also needed help - because of Covid, they couldn’t run their sessions [on the river] for their club members,” added Warren.
“I was in a position, having earned a personal training qualification whilst in prison, to deliver training sessions to the club members [virtually], which was not just great for the club members, but it was great to keep the club going because their outreach work is really important.”
Over the last five years, the annual London Sport Awards, in association with the City of London Corporation, has grown to become the biggest celebration of grassroots and community physical activity and sport in the city.
And this year’s showpiece event will once again recognise, celebrate, and shine a light on the stories of the incredible individuals, groups, and organisations for their outstanding work across the capital helping Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to be physically active.
As well as the incredible volunteering that Warren does, he is also an inspirational speaker and is studying sociology at London School of Economics.
When asked how he finds the time, he said: “I do wonder myself, there aren’t enough hours in the day!
“I’m getting by, I’m getting through it, carrying on, it’s nice not to be bored. I don’t have time to be bored, I do my best and that’s all we can do.
While Warren’s nomination shows the sensational turnaround in his life, winning at the London Sport Awards is something that, while he would love, he is very much not expecting.
He added: “First, surprise, I’d be shocked if I’m honest, but it would be really compounding for my personal aims, for what I do and for the boat club as well.
“I know they do amazing work, if it weren’t for them, there’s a big chance I could be in jail right now, because they’ve really gone a long way to support me.
“There’s no words for it, but it would motivate me so much more, I’m already motivated but I think that would help drive and compound my beliefs.”