Hartlepool United’s Disabled Supporters’ Association have won Royal recognition to be presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
The Lord-Lieutenant of Durham, Sue Snowdon was a special guest at Pools’ The Super 6 Stadium to hand over the highly-regarded award to Darran Hutchinson and Neil Appleyard of HUDSA.
Mrs Snowdon was greeted in to the Centenary Lounge by a welcome party including Director of Football Craig Hignett, Chief Executive Mark Maguire along with several HUDSA volunteers and members.
Set up in 2001, HUDSA have done incredible work for some of the most vulnerable Pools supporters over the last 17 years and were given well-deserved recognition in the Queen’s summer awards.
Neil and Darran were both invited to a special garden party at Buckingham Palace in June to commemorate the honour, before receiving their trophy and a certificate personally signed by the Queen in yesterday’s ceremony.
“I am absolutely delighted to be here because this award is so well-deserved,” explained the Lord-Lieutenant.
“For the Association to be in place for 17 years and to have grown the way it has is such an achievement and to be here to meet some of the people who are benefitting from the work they do is very special.
“For me, the best thing is that it’s gone beyond football now – the social activities and the respite care opportunities for families to have holidays is just marvellous.
“This is the highest award that can be given for voluntary service which makes an extraordinary difference in the local community so everyone involved should be very proud.”
Mr Appleyard said: “This has definitely been one of the best days of my life.
“The trip to Buckingham Palace was amazing but this was on-par if not better because we were able to share it with people we’ve known and worked with along the way.
“We understand that the Queen herself chose us as winners – a panel put their recommendations but the Queen has the final say so that make it even more special.”
The club’s chief executive Mark Maguire commented: “We’re extremely proud of HUDSA and everything they have achieved over the past 17 years.
“I would like to congratulate them such a prestigious and richly-deserved award.”