Neil Barber set to receive FA's Volunteer of the Year accolade
NEIL Barber is heading down Wembley Way tomorrow to pick up the Football Association's top award for volunteers.
As reported, the 58-year-old has been named winner of the prestigious Volunteer of the Year category at this year's FA Community Awards.
And the man who runs West Marsh Community Centre Junior FC can't wait to rub shoulders with Sir Geoff Hurst and Sir Trevor Brooking at the glitzy bash prior to England's World Cup qualifier against San Marino.
"The award is recognition for what's been going on for 12 years, so we're all delighted with it," Barber told the Telegraph.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
"It's a great achievement, but people also need to remember it's a team effort.
"I might be the spearhead of the outfit but there have been a lot of people supporting me to get that.
"I work hand-in-hand with a colleague but he doesn't like the limelight and I get lumbered with it! He likes to stay under the radar, but it's been a double-act since the beginning."
The annual grassroots awards, sponsored by McDonald's, recognise coaches, volunteers, clubs and leagues across England who dedicate their time to football in their local community.
Volunteer of the Year is one of eight categories that will be honoured tomorrow evening at the home of English football.
Barber continued: "We're staying at the Hilton Hotel which is right across the way from Wembley.
"There is a drinks reception at 4pm followed by a sit-down meal and the awards. Then we watch England play San Marino followed by the FA Club, the equivalent of the Players' Lounge.
"Two of the people on the judging panel are Sir Geoff Hurst and Sir Trevor Brooking, while Ben Shepherd and Chris Kamara are presenting the event.
"Hopefully the award itself won't be too big because I've got to carry it back up here on the train!"
Having run football sides at various levels since the 1960s, Barber helped establish West Marsh Community Centre in 1999 and quickly created a football club for local youngsters.
Since then the club has thrived and boasts six teams, including four junior sides, one adult and one disability squad.
West Marsh Community Centre FC has also achieved FA Charter Standard status and secured public funding investment for its state-of-the-art 3G pitch.
"I've been involved with the centre from day one," he said.
"The police were having trouble in the area dealing with anti-social behaviour. They got to know about my football experience and within three months we had the best part of 70 kids involved.
"At one time we had 11 teams here but we're having problems finding coaches at the moment so that has dropped a little.
"Pete Williams from Sports Development helped me set the club up, and they have been very supportive all the way through my time here."
Explaining why he dedicates so much time and effort to the club, Barber added: "I love watching football anyway and I just enjoy working with kids.
"The football is a big part of what we do at the centre, but I thoroughly enjoy working with people and other volunteers, finding out what their capacities are and really letting them shine."