Trio's dedication to Leighton-Linslade clubs is celebrated through Service to Sports awards

Rugby, football and canoe club stalwarts honoured for years of service

By News Reporter
Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 3:14 pm

The voluntary work of three Leighton Buzzard men who have helped sports organisations in the town for a total of more than 80 years has been recognised by the Leighton -Linslade Sports Council.

All three have been commended for their “unstinting efforts” in developing the rugby, football and canoe clubs and have each been granted Service to Sports awards. They are:

> Mark Hardy, who after a two year stint as chairman of Leighton Buzzard Rugby Club, has been its President for the past 26 years. Throughout his long association with the rugby club, he has been active in helping with fund raising, club development, advising and supporting its sporting and social activities.

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More recently, Mark was instrumental in setting up the rugby club as a vaccination centre with the local Primary Care Network of the NHS which enabled over 30,000 local residents to be vaccinated during the Covid crisis. Although he has now stepped down as President, Mark remains involved and is a trusted advisor.

> Paul Sullivan, who for the past 26 years has assisted the development of Woodside Football club in Linslade. With his Level 2 FA coaching qualification, Paul has been a major influence in developing the footballing skills of youngsters, and is the manager of the club’s All Stars team.

As club secretary, Paul liaises with the FA on football issues, attends meetings and occasionally referees. He oversees health and safety, utilises his professional skills as a structural engineer fpr the benefit of the club and ensures the needs of Brooklands School, which is Woodside’s current home, are catered for.

> David Shipway had been a stalwart member and volunteer at Leighton Buzzard Canoe Club for nearly 30 years until his recent death.

David was “Top Club” administrator for many of them, a particularly onerous task sourcing all the information needed to enable the canoe club achieve accreditation for Sport England Top Club status awarded by canoeings’ national governing body.

Although he had recently stepped back from club committee work on health grounds, David had remained a staunch supporter of “the paddlers” and will long be remembered and respected for his commitment to the sport.

Due to the pandemic social gathering restrictions, the Sports Council awards are to be presented by Town Mayor Councillor Farzarna Kharawala to the recipients at their own sports club on dates yet to be finalised.

Making grants for equipment, coaching and other sporting needs, the Leighton-Linslade Sports Council is the “eyes and ears” of the town’s sporting community, helping influence decision makers to ensure Leighton, Linslade and neighbouring villages get the support needed from advice given by people with hands-on experience. Sporting groups in the area are also being encouraged to join the Sports Council to “have their voice heard.”