AN INSPIRATIONAL message from Lord Coe helped to crown a memorable night for City of Portsmouth.
The awards evening proved to be a fitting finale as chairman for Phil Budd, who is stepping down from his post after giving great service to help transform the club.
IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) president Sebastian Coe’s address via a video, which was organised by the club welfare officer and coach Paul Smith, proved a fantastic surprise for everyone in the audience and showed how highly the athletics legend values the work done by the Portsmouth club.
The progress made was highlighted when they were given the award for Club of the Year by England Athletics for the south east region.
But for Budd the amazing awards night which recognised the contributions made by everyone at the club, including the athletes, volunteers and coaches topped even that achievement.
He said: ‘The night was amazing. I don’t think there’s ever been a better social night put on by the club.
‘I thought the club of the year award was going to be the high point of my tenure but this night topped it.
‘The address by Lord Coe was remarkable.
‘Considering how busy he is, to take time out to do this for us is pretty amazing.
‘He summed up the position the club is in very well indeed.
‘The reaction when the video was played was initially a stunned silence in the room, then a few murmurs that it was Seb Coe talking about our club.
‘He did address the various sides of the club, he was very well informed and had done his research. You can see why he is in the position he is.’
Budd was presented with a special award on Saturday night at the ceremony and gala dinner in the Victory Lounge, at Fratton Park.
This highlighted how much everything he has put in place is appreciated by everyone involved with the club.
He initially joined Portsmouth Athletics Club in 1968.
After drifting away from the sport he returned in 1998 and has since been serving as secretary and then chairman for 12 years now.
He added: ‘When I got the award, I was touched, I had no idea it was going to happen.
‘It’s nice to know that, at the end of it, everything I have put into the club was appreciated.
‘The awards night was extremely well organised and Pompey football club made us very welcome.
‘We had fantastic sponsors Jones Private Hire.
‘All of the various parts of the club came together which was nice given the continuing situation where we can’t use the athletics track in the evenings due to the lack of floodlights so we are training all over the place.
‘I’m confident I can step away from the role of chairman now because we have the right people in place to drive the club forward.
‘We’ve made great progress and amazing times are ahead.
‘I won’t be nagging away in the corner but I will be there for them if they need any advice and support.’