Ballinamallard United Football Club has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The Club was re-formed 40 years ago and since then has grown in size and stature and now competes in the Irish League Premiership. The club has a flourishing Mini and Youth Soccer programme, encompassed within its Football Academy and provides a first class facility for boys and girls from the age of 5 upwards, to participate in football under the watchful eye of a large group of highly qualified coaches and volunteers. From humble beginnings the club has reached the top echelon of local football and has also many other teams participating in NI National Leagues. Ballinamallard are only the fourth recipient of this award from County Fermanagh in the 15 years since the award was first made.
Club Chairman Jeff Aiken attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on the 24th May in the company of Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Family and other winners of this year’s award.
Ballinamallard United Football Club is one of 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of awards given to groups this year is slightly higher than last year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
Award winners this year range from a War Memorial Community Trust, providing social facilities for the benefit of the community in Clwyd, Wales, to a club enhancing the community by developing individuals through athletics, in Ayrshire and Arran, Scotland.
Ballinamallard United Football Club will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of County Fermanagh later this summer.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Sir Martyn Lewis said:
“I warmly congratulate all of the inspirational voluntary groups who have been rewarded for their community work with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The judging panel for this year’s awards were struck by the quality and breadth of all the successful groups. The thousands of volunteers who give up spare time to help others in their community and to help solve problems demonstrate the very best of democracy in action.”
Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, said:
“I would like to congratulate all groups who received this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, in recognition of their fantastic achievements. The huge amount of work and commitment these organisations put into their local communities is surpassed only by the passion and motivation of the individuals who volunteer. I hope these groups continue to inspire others to get involved and make a positive impact so that we can continue to build a more compassionate society.”
Statement from Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Co Fermanagh ( Viscount Brookeborough )
"I am thrilled that BUFC has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year and I congratulate them on behalf of the Fermanagh Lieutenancy – This is the highest award that can be achieved, in recognition of the outstanding contribution of the volunteers who have contributed so much in the selfless service to others in the catchment area of this club. Over many years they have provided a unique service to the young people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone. This has all contributed to the increasing success of their junior and senior teams in competition and N I Football League".
Ballinamallard Club Chairman Jeff Aiken commented on the award “This award is a tremendous honour for the Club and we are delighted to be a recipient of it. The award recognises the volunteer work done by many volunteers over the past 40 years since the club was reformed and so in accepting this award on behalf of the club, I do so recognising the valuable work many volunteers have done over that time".
Local MP and Club member Tom Elliott commented “I am delighted for the many volunteers at Ballinamallard United FC who have worked tirelessly for the Club, it is great that their service is being recognised. I think of the many coaches and helpers who turn out on Saturday mornings and during the week to provide a service for the young people from across society; the groundsmen, stewards, ball boys, ticket sellers, turnstile operators, medical professionals, administrators, cleaners and many more volunteers who come from throughout the community to add value to Ballinamallard United Football Club by the giving of their time and expertise on a weekly basis".