Copmanthorpe coach Paul Bird receives Football Association honour at Buckingham Palace (From York Press)
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Copmanthorpe coach Paul Bird receives Football Association honour at Buckingham Palace
HE’S the welfare officer, runs the disability team, marks the pitch, organises the kit and is in charge of the under-sevens.
Now Copmanthorpe head coach Paul Bird can add a new title to his resume: Hero.
The 49-year-old, who has devoted the last 14 years of his life to helping people play football at the Baron’s Crescent-based club, was one of 150 grass-roots volunteers honoured by the Football Association as part of its 150th anniversary.
Bird was nominated as a Community Hero and travelled down to Buckingham Palace to be presented with a medal for his efforts by the FA’s chairman Greg Dyke, a former vice-chancellor of the University of York, and Prince William.
But Bird, who paid tribute to his family for their support after being given the gong, almost missed the trip to London.
“I got a phone call from the FA’s 150 team asking me if I’d got an email inviting me to the Palace,” he said. “I told him he was having a laugh. I expected to see Jeremy Beadle outside.
“They had sent an email, though. I get quite a lot of stuff from the FA and it was in my deleted emails. I could have deleted it by accident so I was pleased they rang.
“I still haven’t been able to find out who nominated me.”
Bird’s medal has an inscription on the back hailing his outstanding service to football but the Copmanthorpe chief said the future king also had a few words for him.
“Greg Dyke gave me the medal and I moved along to Prince William,” he added. “He congratulated me for all my hard work and said ‘I’m very proud of you’.
“It was a bit surreal but I enjoyed the whole day. I will treasure the medal. I also received a certificate and a card inscribed with gold.
“Someone told me there was only 150 of these and wondered how many people had been given OBEs? These are priceless.
“I have had great support from all my family. They have supported and come to events and helped make the teas and coffees. Without their support it would all be worthless.”
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