Beccles volunteers honoured for tireless work in the community
Community heroes have been honoured at a special awards ceremony in Beccles.
The town council held its annual awards night on Tuesday, where four residents were presented with awards for their work.
The Eileen Crisp Award for Youth Services was presented to 78-year-old Gordon McKenzie for his dedication to youth football in Beccles.
Mr McKenzie has been one of the stalwarts of the Beccles Wasps youth football club since its creation in 1974. It has now merged with Beccles Town FC to form one club.
He started by refereeing the first matches played by the Wasps and soon became part of the committee. He took a short break from the club, but has been involved ever since, working every weekend in the season. And since his retirement from full-time work in 2001, he has also been involved on a daily basis. He can be found checking the pitch and changing rooms, doing odd jobs and generally keeping an eye on the facilities.
Mr McKenzie said: “The letter came out of the blue. I was gobsmacked and I couldn’t see why me.
“I’m just a guy that’s there for any jobs that need doing.
“And I don’t do it on my own, there’s a team of us at the club, and I couldn’t do it without the support of my family too.
“I will keep going as long as I am fit enough to still do it.”
The club has more than 300 youth members with girls and boys teams from under 7s to under 16s, who play at The Nest at Common Lane.
Mr McKenzie was also club chairman from 2000 to 2007 and since then has been vice chairman.
He has now decided to stand down at the end of the season from his administrative duties, but still intends to help on a daily basis and support the club. The Lesley Freeman Award for Long Service went to Alfred Muffett, known as Alf, for his services to the Royal British Legion and the TS Brave Sea Cadets.
Mr Muffett joined the Beccles branch of the Legion in 1996, becoming their Standard Bearer in 1999, attending many ceremonies including one at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. In all weathers he turns out smart for the occasion, twice on Battle of Britain Sunday and twice on Remembrance Sunday, supporting the Services of Remembrance at both Worlingham and Beccles. He also helps with the Poppy Appeal, became a welfare visitor for the Royal British Legion in 1999 and is curator of the Royal Naval Patrol Service Museum in Lowestoft.
And during the late 60s and early 70s, his involvement with TS Brave Sea Cadets saw him achieve First Lieutenant and become president. He has helped to lead, teach and guide generations of Beccles youngsters in their steps to adulthood.
And Kathy Jolley and Carol Betts were joint winners of the Robert Ellwood Award for Outstanding Service to the Community for their fundraising activities. Ms Betts started holding a bric-a-brac stall in the mid 1980s and in 2013 joined up with Ms Jolley to run a combined stall and split the money raised between their favourite charities - Waveney Enterprises and the Waveney Centre, both based in Beccles.
Since then each charity has received just under £5,000, with each of the women also raising thousands of pounds over the years through their individual efforts.
Beccles mayor Graham Catchpole handed out the awards and said: “We have four very worthy winners and you could say that they possibly should have been winners before when you look at how many years they have been doing voluntary work for our town.”