VOLUNTEER group Faith and Football has received the highest honour a charity can get – the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
The Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire Nigel Atkinson presented members of the group with a crystal and certificate from the Queen in recognition for the work they have done helping children across Portsmouth.
The presentation took place in the Lord Mayor’s parlour at the Portsmouth Guildhall.
Director and former Pompey player Mick Mellows said he was ‘overwhelmed’ by the honour.
Mr Mellows said: ‘When we started the charity in 2001 with just a handful of friends few would have thought that we would be standing here today.’
Mr Atkinson said he was delighted to present the award to the group.
I would like to congratulate you all on this award and I think Portsmouth should be rightly proud of this charityNigel Atkinson
He said: ‘It’s a similar award to the MBE and it’s treated exactly the same.
‘I would like to congratulate you all on this award and I think Portsmouth should be rightly proud of this charity.’
Joy Hargreaves has been a volunteer Faith and Football mentor for four years.
Mrs Hargreaves said: ‘To me, it’s not just about reaching out to the children during the programmes, I believe we’ve made lifelong relationships.’
Young Daisy Smith, nine, took part in a Faith and Football reading scheme with Mrs Hargreaves at Meon Infant School in Milton.
Daisy said: ‘I like all of it because it was all fun.
‘We played games and read books.
‘My favourite was Noah’s ark.’
Eight-year-old George Stanley said: ‘That was one of my favourites too, and I liked Daniel in the lions’ den too.’
Faith and Football helps youngsters get involved in community, football and educational programmes in partnership the police, schools, and neighbourhood groups.
The charity, which has about 150 volunteers, also runs an Enterprise Challenge programme which helps youngsters build their entrepreneurial skills.