Team behind North East's young sporting success over 90 years gets royal approval with Queen's Medal
An organisation which has helped generations of sporting talent reach the top is celebrating with a royal award.
The Durham Association of Boys and Girls Clubs (DABGC) has produced scores of sporting champions over almost nine decades has now been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
A Buckingham Palace announcement today, Wednesday, June 2, confirmed the title for the organisation - which works across County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Tees Valley – making it the first National Association of Boys and Girls Clubs to be given the status.
Among those it has supported are England players Steph Houghton, from South Hetton, and Jill Scott, from Sunderland; Wearside long distance runner Alyson Dixon, Sunderland boxers Billy Hardy and Tony Jeffries; Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig, from Hebburn, and Hartlepool boxer Savannah Marshall.
Others include footballers Paul Gascoigne, Danny Graham and David Hodgson and boxing twins Luke and Pat McCormack, 24, from Birtley, who are isolating in a training bubble ahead of Team GB’s final selections for the Tokyo Olympics.
DABGC chairman David Orford, Durham Constabulary’s Deputy Chief Constable, said: “This award is a great honour for the association and reflects the hard work and dedication over many years from staff and volunteers.
“The sports and activities they have provided for young people have produced world class athletes and champions.
"They are our future and this award is for them.”
The organisation, founded in 1933, has just three part-time staff but are backed by a volunteer network of 600 young leaders and coaches who deliver a programme to more than 5,000 eight to 21-year-olds, who attend the 75 member clubs.
The majority are with clubs in areas suffering from social deprivation, disadvantage or isolation and they support each other through events, while coaches are also helped to develop their skills.
Alan Watston, a former police officer who serves as the DABGC’s executive youth officer, added: “The youngsters have been given access to opportunities and experiences they could only have dreamed of – taking them out of their comfort zone and opening doors to greater opportunity.
“The association has a long history generating high levels of respect and goodwill within their communities and many parents return to volunteer at clubs where they were once members.”