We are delighted to announce Ray and Lesley Dennis from Ashurst Wood Junior FC (AWJFC) have won our Volunteer of the Year Award as part of The FA and McDonald's Grassroots Football Awards.
The awards aim to recognise and reward volunteers, match officials, clubs and leagues across the county who have made a difference to grassroots football in their local community.
Ray and Lesley took on the roles of Chairman and secretary over eight years ago. The club was in financial difficulties, it hadn’t got it’s England Football Accredited status and was in a desperate state.
Ray and Lesley have worked tirelessly to put the club straight and provide over 200 local footballers the opportunity to play. Ray and Lesley have managed to create an environment for everyone to feel safe and supported whether that be a young 5-year-old footballer, a parent a committee member or a manager. All queries and requests are acknowledged and looked at promptly, ensuring everyone is heard.
Ashurst Wood JFC is now financially stable and has its England Football Accredited status. Ray and Lesley have jointly steadied the ship and built strong foundations.
They’ve worked with the local council to improve pitches; they’ve worked with the local community. They raised funds during the pandemic lockdown, to help provide the local primary school with some much-needed tech to help connect pupils, that did not have internet access.
Once some restrictions were lifted they negotiated with the local council to extend the time goals were kept up allowing the local children football facilities in their parks for longer.
Under their leadership AWJFC understands it’s more than just a club, it is the heart of the village in Sussex. It is the small club with a big heart.
Ray and Lesley Dennis are a formidable team. They have been married for nearly 50 years and worked together for 40 years. Once they retired and their eldest grandson joined AWJFC they learnt of the difficulties the club was in. It desperately needed a chairman and secretary otherwise it would fold.
Their little club with big heart is now having teams that want to stay together and play on in under-17s, having had teams fold at under-15 level before they joined the committee. Managers feel supported where this had been lacking before. Every day of the week they will have some work for the club… now that is some retirement!
No job is too big or too small for Ray and Lesley, they always find a solution. They are the perfect team, one is the front man with the big smile and engaging conversations and big ideas, the other is the quiet and steady organiser ensuring all the promises are met and the tasks are completed.
To find out more about The FA and McDonald's Grassroots Football Awards please contact: