Latest News | 12 June 2024

Gifting firm helps recognise unsung football volunteers

Colleague Box
YMCA Derbyshire
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The co-founder of corporate gifting firm Colleague Box has been inspired to do more after hearing stories of volunteers working in football across the city and county.

Natalie Bamford, who founded Colleague Box with husband Adam four years ago, recently teamed up with Derbyshire FA to launch the Unsung Hero Award scheme for the 2023/24 season.

Every month, worthy winners were presented with a Taste of Derbyshire gift box that was curated at Colleague Box’s Derby headquarters featuring goodies from local suppliers.

Winners have included Anne Nowak, club liaison officer for the Chesterfield Sunday League who received her award during the half-time break at Chesterfield FC’s National League defeat of Oxford City in March, and Alfreton Town stalwart Jeff Clarke.

Jeff has helped out at Alfreton for more than 40 years, assisting with everything from ground maintenance to working on the turnstiles.

Natalie is hoping that the scheme will be adopted by more football associations looking to reward their grassroots heroes, and other businesses who rely on the support of their volunteers.

She said: “It has been an absolute joy reading through the nominations for the Unsung Hero Award scheme and creating gift boxes for the winners.

“There are hundreds of people across Derby and Derbyshire who are giving up their spare time to help others and it would be great to see the Unsung Hero Award adopted by other football associations across the UK.

“As a football fan and football mum, I’m well aware of the endless hours that volunteers give up so that clubs can function and matches can be played, and I’m in awe of their commitment and dedication.”

Others to receive an Unsung Hero Award include Duffield Dynamo’s Welfare Officer Kate Mercer who was nominated by several parents from within the club for her warm, kind and caring attitude, and for being ‘the glue that keeps the club together’.

Natalie, who is a volunteer on the board at Derwent Stepping Stones Nursery – which is part of the YMCA Derbyshire – said: “Volunteering provides physical and mental rewards.

“It also promotes a sense of community and Colleague Box is proud to have played a small part in celebrating local heroes with the Unsung Heroes Award.”

Tom Crabtree, from Derbyshire FA, said: “The Unsung Hero campaign is something we’re extremely proud of at Derbyshire FA, and we couldn’t have accomplished our vision without the wholehearted co-operation and boundless enthusiasm of the remarkable individuals at Colleague Box.”

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