Grassroots volunteers celebrated at glittering awards ceremony

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The Suffolk Football Association (FA) Awards Dinner, sponsored by McDonald’s, proved a fitting climax to the season at grassroots level in the county.

More than 130 guests attended the evening, which saw a host of volunteers from across the county receive awards, including Stowmarket referee Geoffrey Cook for 25 years of service.

The Awards Dinner, which was held in the Sir Bobby Robson Suite at Portman Road last Thursday, also included a three-course meal plus a speech from former Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks CBE.

He paid tribute to grassroots football and all the volunteers who make it possible, and related some stories and anecdotes from his time at the club.

There was also an audience-led question-and-answer session which saw Sheepshanks joined on the stage by former Ipswich Town manager George Burley.

Eight referees were presented with Long Service awards by Sheepshanks, while the Groundsman of the Year Awards were handed out by Mark Harrod of sponsors Mark Harrod Ltd.

Suffolk FA chairman David Porter presented Player of the Year Awards for the county’s three representative teams, which included Needham Market’s Jack Newman taking the under-18s trophy.

There was also 25 Appearance awards given to four members of the Ladies’ team.

Award recipients were as follows: Referees’ Long Service Awards: 25 years – Graham Apperley, Geoffrey Cook, Paul Cunningham, William Freeman, Peter Hart, Glenn Yellop; 40 years – David Theobald 50 years – Mick Leeds.

Groundsman of the Year Awards: 1st Darryle Flegg (Achilles), 2nd Michael Brundish (Old Newton United), 3rd Martin Stiff (Claydon). Representative Team Awards: Ladies’ Player of the Year: Marcie Prettyman; Under-18 Player of the Year: Jack Newman; Under-16 Player of the Year: Dan Knight. 25 Appearances: Danielle Bitten, Amanda Crump, Amy Howlett, Lindsey Smith. FA Community Awards: FA Charter Standard League: Norfolk & Suffolk Youth League; FA Charter Standard Development Club; Cornard Dynamos; FA Charter Standard Club: Beccles Town; FA Community Club: Waveney; Outstanding Contribution to Community Football: Gavin Peters; Highly Commended: Peter Cocker; Volunteer of the Year: Rod Cooper; Young volunteer of the Year: Maria Palmer; FA 50-Year Service award: Bryan Parker of Framlingham Town.