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Volunteer trio pick up highly acclaimed High Sheriff Award

14 July 2023


Volunteer trio pick up highly acclaimed High Sheriff Award

14 July 2023

Earlier this week our Community Foundation had the pleasure and honour of being part of a visit from Clare Granger, High Sheriff of North Yorkshire at Harrogate Community House organised by Harrogate and District Voluntary Organisation.

Clare enjoyed a short tour of Community House and met with tenants, finding out about the joy each organisation brings to the local community by bringing people together & celebrating volunteering.

Clare also presented High Sheriff Awards in recognition of the outstanding contributions our volunteer trio have made to Harrogate Town AFC Community Foundation, and specifically on the Walking Football Programme.

Rod Clifton, Bernie O'Brien and Tom Robinson form the Volunteer Committee responsible for overseeing our Walking Football sessions, fixtures & competition entries with help and support provided by the Community Foundation's Health & Well-being Officer, Steve Pattison.

Rod: "I was extremely honoured to receive this award from the High Sheriff, in recognition of the work that Bernie, Tom and I contribute towards the successful running of Harrogate Town Community Foundation's walking football programme. I don't think any of us were expecting this, but we are proud of how our numbers have grown, with 89 players now on our 'books'!!

The trio have been involved in the programme since its inception in 2018 and have been the driving force in the continued growth and success of the sessions which started with just a handful of men taking part, to now having over 70 players participating weekly, three teams competing regularly and the recent addition of a Women's session, which has proved very popular.

Bernie: "Organising walking football for players of different ages and abilities is challenging but massively rewarding - they get real enjoyment from the activities we arrange, whether competitive or more socially focused. We're happily able to say we get positive feedback that the players genuinely appreciate the work we do, which ordinarily I would have said is all we could ask for. But many thanks to the Community Foundation for nominating us for the award from the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire for community service. It was something of a surprise bonus and a humbling one at that."

Providing a warm welcome, rich in information and support the aim of the sessions is to provide a way for local residents aged 50+ to stay engaged in the sport they love, ensure they stay physical active whilst fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie that physical activity, competition and representing Harrogate Town AFC brings. This coupled with social events organised through the season proving a chance to get together off the pitch too, helps to reduce social isolation and loneliness that can be sometimes be experienced.

Tom: "As I grew older I thought that the game that I love to play had well and truly passed me by, as I suspect it did for a lot of our players and so when walking football came along I jumped at the chance not only to play but also to help out by volunteering to organise and deliver some of our weekly sessions. For many of our players playing football and meeting up with friends is the highlight of their week with the added bonus of keeping fit and active. It's a real pleasure being involved in helping the local community maintain their health and fitness, working alongside members of the Harrogate Town AFC Community Foundation."

Head of Foundation, Jill Stacey added 'We are very proud of the work our volunteers undertake within the local community. We would like to place on record our thanks to Tom, Rod and Bernie for their continued commitment to the positive and welcoming environment they have created at Walking Football. Their dedication and hard work to the growth of this programme is remarkable and all three fully deserve the recognition in the form of the High Sheriff Award. Congratulations!'

We are always looking for others who want to make a difference to the lives of those within the Harrogate & District area. If you are interested in volunteering within any of our programmes please get in touch via

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