A Derbyshire volunteer who has devoted more than 40 years of his life to grassroots football has received a special delivery from HM The Queen – a British Empire Medal in recognition of his service to the sport.

Barry Newton, of Alfreton, was nominated for the honour by Purpose Media, after giving more than four decades of voluntary service to Swanwick-based Sleetmoor United Football Club and its predecessor, ADASC FC.

Barry was due to collect his honour at a special investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace earlier this year, but it had to be put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, his medal and certificate were hand-delivered to his home, and he will be invited to a rearranged event next year, Covid-permitting.

Barry was nominated for the honour by Purpose Media’s Managing Director Matt Wheatcroft. Matt is a coach and former chairman at Sleetmoor United and has seen at first hand the support and dedication that Barry has shown both to the club and to help thousands of young people over the years.

Earlier this year Barry received a golden envelope containing a luxury night out in London from Purpose Media MD Matt Wheatcroft, to help him celebrate his achievement, which will now be rearranged.

He said: “I’ve known Barry for several years and have been inspired by the dedication and selfless services he has given to the club and the youngsters who play for it, which is why I nominated him for a Queen’s Honour.

“He’s been tirelessly helping the club and scores of local youngsters during that time, working many hours a week in all weathers to keep the club ticking over.

“We had planned to give Barry and his wife Janet an all-expenses-paid trip to London to remember for when he was supposed to go to Buckingham Palace to collect his medal.

“Unfortunately, coronavirus meant that couldn’t happen, but I’m delighted he has received his honour and we’ll make sure he gets the experience of a lifetime when he finally gets to Buckingham Palace next year.”

Developing life skills

Over the years, Barry has helped to develop the football and life skills of thousands of local youngsters. Several players he has coached have gone on to reach the highest levels of the professional game, including former Manchester United goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington and ex-Barnsley winger Martin Bullock, who supported his honours nomination along with Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills.

Barry said: “I was both shocked and proud when I learned I was to be given this honour from HM The Queen. I don’t do what I do for the recognition, I do it for the love of football and a passion for helping young people and seeing them grow, not only as footballers but also as teammates and people.

“Although I didn’t get to go down to London to collect my medal when I received it, it was an incredibly humbling experience. I am looking forward to going to the rearranged garden party next year when things get a bit more back to normal.

“I’d like to thank Matt for putting me forward for this honour, but most of all thanks to all the parents I’ve met, the players I’ve coached and the people I’ve worked with along the way for all the support they’ve given to me.”

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Posted by Ellie Buckle