A FOOTBALL club has received the highest volunteering award issued by the Queen in recognition of its hard work.
AFC Portchester was presented The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2011 on Saturday by the Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan.
The national award is the equivalent to an MBE for groups of volunteers who work in their community for the benefit of others.
Only six of them were issued in Hampshire this year, and the county has only received 18 since the award was created in 2002.
Richard Tasker, the club’s football director, said: ‘It feels amazing to have got this award.
‘It’s the highest one we could’ve got and the certificate’s signed by the Queen herself.
‘Everyone at the club is very honoured to receive it – it’s nice to get recognition for all the hard work we do.’
As well as receiving an exclusive commemorative crystal and a certificate, the club will now be able to use the Queen’s crest alongside the logo of Football Foundation, which supports the Portchester club.
AFC Portchester has more than 500 male and female members of all ages and runs 39 different teams from its base in Cranleigh Road.
As well as coaching the members’ football and helping them to maintain their fitness, the club aims to build on social and teamwork skills.
Coach Lee Farndell said: ‘Everyone comes from different backgrounds and most of the kids are from different schools, so it really helps improve their social skills.
‘It gets them outside doing physical exercise, away from the games consoles and off the streets. We’re all really passionate about what we do here and it’s great to see that it’s considered valuable to the community.’
The club is run solely by volunteers and relies on grants and fundraising.
Dame Mary said: ‘It’s lovely to see such a friendly and hard-working group who, through their dedication and effort in the local community, have benefited others.
‘They thoroughly deserve the award, which was the highest accolade for any group and is equivalent to an MBE.’