Local football coach wins volunteer award

Ballymena football coach John Clarke has won a prestigious award for his voluntary work.

Local man John Clarke has won the Hughes Insurance Ballymena Sports Volunteer Award for his work with Waveney Youth Football Club and Ballymena Community Sport Forum. He is pictured with Ballymena Hughes Insurance Branch Manager Sylvia Thompson and Johnny McClenaghan from Ballymoney Blaze Volleyball Club, who won the Young Sports Volunteer of the Year Award.

The 2013 Hughes Insurance Sports Volunteer Awards, a national awards programme recognising the unsung heroes of local sport in communities across Northern Ireland, has announced 12 regional winners from across the province.

Hundreds of volunteers from all sports were nominated with the Ballymena Sports Volunteer Award going to John Clarke for his work with Waveney Youth Football Club and Ballymena Community Sport Forum.

Judges also awarded Johnny McClenaghan from Ballymoney Blaze Volleyball Club the Young Sports Volunteer of the Year Award.

John Clarke won the award for his commitment to helping young people from socially deprived backgrounds in Ballymena by involving them in sport. The aim of the awards was to unearth the true sporting heroes in our communities and were judged by an independent judging panel. Twelve regional winners were selected across all the Hughes branches with each winner being awarded £200 for themselves along with £500 for their club and a bespoke trophy.

Sylvia Thompson, Hughes Insurance Ballymena Branch Manger said: “There is some fantastic work being done by sports volunteers in our community and we want to thank everyone who took the time to nominate people they know doing some fantastic volunteer work.

“We are delighted to announce John and Johnny as our award winners for their work with their clubs and give them the recognition they deserve.”

All 12 branch winners now go forward to the Northern Ireland finals and the chance to win the Overall Sports Volunteer Award title.