Two County Durham Men have been awarded the Chairman’s Medal for their many years of commitment to youth sport. 

The Chairman’s Medal is an award, given by Durham County Council, that recognises significant achievement and outstanding effort in various fields.

Alan Watson and John O’Conner were recently presented with the medal by the chairman of Durham County Council, Cllr Edward Bell, in a ceremony attended by their families. 

Alan has been involved in junior sports clubs for more than 35 years. Some of the youngsters he has worked with – including Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Peter Beardsley – have forged successful careers as professional sportsmen and women. 

County Durham Men Awarded Medal for Commitment to Grassroots Sport
Alan Shearer was among the youngsters who trained with Alan Watson

Alan, 67, from Framwellgate Moor, was initially involved with the National Association of Boys’ Clubs, which later became the National Association of Clubs for Young People. 

Over the years, hundreds of youngsters have attended football, five-a-side, boxing and leadership training events organised by Alan. Many of these young people have gone on to be volunteers themselves.

Alan has recently played an important role in setting up a new national charity called the Association of Boys and Girls Clubs. Alan is passionate about supporting young people and his commitment and dedication have been vital for this charity’s development. 

County Durham Men Awarded Medal for Commitment to Grassroots Sport
Alan Watson

John, 58, from Shotley Bridge, has been a committee member of Consett RFC (Rugby Football Club) since he was just 17-years-old.  

In the early 1990s, John led a buyout of a former working men’s club in central Consett. This helped rescue the rugby club and John invested all the profits in youth rugby training.

John also played a key role in obtaining a £500,000 grant from Sport England, which was used for new changing rooms, a gym, pitch surfaces, security fencing and floodlights at Consett RFC.

In addition, John created the Derwentside Youth Charitable Trust to fund sports development for young people, and he obtained lottery money to put on free holiday sports clubs.

John has been invited to Downing Street to discuss his work with the minister for culture and sport. In 1999, he was presented with the Sport England VIP Award for Volunteers in Sport by Sir Trevor Brooking. 

John has served as the chair of the Derwent Valley Area Action Partnership, a forum which gives local residents a say in how services are delivered and their communities are run.

He is also a board member of Project Genesis, an organisation set up to help Consett develop after the loss of the town’s steel works.

County Durham Men Awarded Medal for Commitment to Grassroots Sport
John O’Conner

Cllr Bell said, “Alan and John are two extremely worthy recipients of the Chairman’s Medal. Their contribution to grassroots sport has been long-running and far-reaching.”

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of young people have been inspired by Alan’s passion and commitment to youth sport while John’s legacy is clear for all to see, from new sports facilities to successful youth sport clubs.”      

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David writes about local news, thought provoking stories, and yearns to capture the community spirit with a unique writing style.


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