Sudbury Rugby Club stalwart Gregory Underwood picked up a lifetime achievement award at the Suffolk Sport Awards ceremony on Friday.
Underwood, 70, a player and official at the club for more than 50 years, was nominated for the award by Sudbury chairman Bob Waller. As he was unable to attend the ceremony in Ipswich, the award was collected on his behalf by son Saul.
“The award came as a complete surprise,” said recipient Underwood. “All I have ever tried to do is put something back into the game which has given me so much.”
His long record of voluntary service to the club he joined at 18, and to the sport, started when he was a player. He took on the role of fixture secretary while playing as a prop at the club, a post he still holds.
“I served an apprenticeship as team secretary for a couple of years,” said Underwood, “and it was a privilege to join the committee as fixture secretary.”
At Sudbury he has also served as London League representative, and as president, and during his term of office was part of the management team that oversaw the club’s move to a new ground at Whittome Field in 2009.
“I was sad to move from Moorsfield,” he said. “It held a lot of happy memories, and I helped to build the first clubhouse there.”
Underwood has also been president of the Suffolk RFU, and held numerous posts with Eastern Counties RU.
He served as volunteer co-ordinator, and on the community rugby committee and the marketing and communications committee, posts he only relinquished at the end of last season.
“I coudn’t have done it without my wife Lynda,” he said.
“It has been a partnership, and she has always supported me.”
Sudbury president-elect Ray Collins said: “Gregory is the grandfather of the club. He has put in more than 50 years of service to the club and the sport, and he thoroughly deserves his award.”
Underwood was also recognised five years ago when he received a prestigious Torch Trophy Trust Award in recognition of his years of voluntary service to the game.
Torch Trophy Trust Awards are presented annually to nominees from sports’ governing bodies to recognise grassroots voluntary work in clubs, and community initiatives.
Prior to his retirement Underwood worked for more than 40 years at Braintree College of Further Education where he was manager of estates and facilities.
n Suffolk Sport is the county sports partnership for Suffolk. Its role is to co-ordinate sport and activity programmes in Suffolk and support the development of clubs, coaches and volunteers in the county.
n The lifetime achievement award was sponsored by Sentinel Leisure, and presented by Matt Stebbings from the company.