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FOOTBALL: Pete's palace appointment
FORMER youth coach and Westbury Youth FC groundsman Pete Smart will be honoured for his volunteer work within grassroots football when he attends a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Monday.
Smart, who lives with wife Heather in Whitecroft, Dilton Marsh, was named winner of the prestigious Outstanding Contribution to Community Football award by Wiltshire FA, as part of The FA and McDonald’s Community Awards.
The 70-year-old coached youth teams at Warminster Town for 20 years from 1974 until going to Westbury Youth FC, where he has volunteered ever since – initially as a coach and now as the club’s groundsman.
He will be presented with a medal by the Duke of Cambridge at the event on Monday, along with 150 other volunteers chosen from across a number of FA grassroots initiatives.
Smart, who also co-founded the Mid Wilts Youth & Minor League, said: “It’s a really nice honour and all the lads have been joking around and asking me for my autograph since I found out.
“I have always been passionate about football and I enjoy providing perfect facilities for kids to play on.
“There are lots of other people who also work very hard at the club as well, though.
“We have a tremendous community at Westbury Youth and it has grown a great deal over the years, from the 69 kids we had when I started to the 310 or so we have now. It’s jumped leaps and bounds.
“I’ve trained hundreds of kids through the years, including the grandchildren of people who I trained when they were younger.
“It’s going to be a great experience to go to Buckingham Palace and my wife is really looking forward to it.”
Founded in 2010, The FA and McDonald’s Community Awards recognise and celebrate those coaches, volunteers, clubs and leagues across England whose hard work is vital to grassroots football.
Sir Geoff Hurst, McDonald’s director of football, said: “Pete embodies the spirit of a grassroots volunteer.
“It is important we celebrate the dedication of all volunteers whether they be coaches, chairman or, in the case of Pete, a groundsman.”
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