A MAN who devotes his time to running children’s football clubs and mentoring other sports coaches has been awarded a top honour.

Gary Brown received the honour from Durham County Council chairman, Councillor John Lethbridge, for his work at Lumley Football Club, near Chester-le-Street.

The Chairman’s Medal is the highest honour that the county council can award to individuals and organisations for outstanding voluntary contribution to the county.

Mr Brown, a lifelong football fan, set up a junior section of Lumley FC in 2005, at the request of a parent in his village.

He is now both general manager and club secretary of the junior football club, coaching children aged four and over.

As a youngster, Mr Brown played in goal for his school team and dreamed of becoming a professional footballer.

In his teens a diagnosis of a rare genetic disease, Friedreich’s ataxia, prevented him from playing, but deterioration in his mobility and speech have not stopped his passion for football.

Instead, Mr Brown fulfils his sporting ambitions by sharing his love of the game with others.

He began his coaching career managing his local pub team, guiding them to victory with several promotions and cup wins. After completing both FA and UEFA coaching courses he set up Lumley FC, where he now passes on his skills by mentoring other coaches as well as coaching children, overseeing a total of 19 teams run by the club.

Mr Brown, who also won the BBC North East and Cumbria Sports Personality Unsung Hero Award 2018 for his voluntary work with Lumley FC, was joined by friend and Lumley DC trustee, George Wood at the medal ceremony.

Mr Brown said: “It’s been a very humbling experience to receive such an honour which I’m proud to accept on behalf of my family, friends and colleagues. It’s an awesome feeling when what I do is so heartfelt because ultimately I’m just a normal bloke from a little village in County Durham, doing what I enjoy doing.”

Presenting Gary with his medal, Cllr Lethbridge said: “Gary works tirelessly to support young people to live happy and healthy lives through sport, and also generously gives his time to help adults develop the skills they need to educate the next generation. He is very highly respected in his community.”