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LPF Award Winners 2012/13

At Level Playing Field we think it is so important that people are recognised for the great work that they do, often working behind the scenes and without seeking the limelight. We aim to celebrate the amazing work of these individuals.

That is why every year we run the Level Playing Field Fans Awards, and invite nominations for the people that you feel make a real difference for disabled supporters across all sports. We have three award categories, and with many worthy candidates nominated for each category, it leaves an almost impossible task for the Awards Panel to choose the winners.

The panel for the 2012/13 awards was made up of Elaine Browne (volunteer), Michael Rice (trustee) and June Wratten (ambassador).

Elaine is a long-term supporter and volunteer for Level Playing Field, and takes a keen interest in the work that we do. Mike sits as a Level Playing Field Trustee and keeps a hands-on role with the charity. June is a Level Playing Field Ambassador and a real figurehead of the LPF Fans Awards, particularly as one of the Awards is presented in honour of her son, Joseph.

 The Joseph Wratten Award is presented to Paddy Cronesberry.


Paddy is a diehard Middlesbrough FC supporter and was one of the founders of the Middlesbrough Disabled Supporters Association (MDSA).

Paddy’s nomination read, “He is, quite simply, an extraordinary person and travels to all of Middlesbrough’s home and away matches. Paddy’s role as an extraordinary disabled fan who goes to home and away matches and also helps so many other disabled people to do the same through the MDSA – without MDSA, and in particular without Paddy, many of these people would not get to see a match”.

Paddy was recently awarded an MBE for his services to disabled people in sport, and took part in the Olympic torch relay. He truly is a worthy winner of this award – congratulations Paddy!

The Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to Jeanne Jones.


Jeanne is a wheelchair user and the voluntary secretary of the Exeter City Disabled Supporters Association (ECDSA).

Jeanne’s nomination read, “Jeanne is what Exeter City is all about – everyone working together for the better good of our football club. Jeanne will help out any time when required and nothing would stop her from doing so, even if she’s not feeling that well herself, you can be sure she’ll be there ready to help. She does this because she loves helping others and never looks to be rewarded. For all she does, this would be the greatest way of rewarding her for all her volunteer work she does here at Exeter City Football Club, ECDSA and others”.

We couldn’t agree more – congratulations Jeanne!

The Club Employee of the Year Award is presented to John Starkey.


John is the Disabled Liaison Officer at Birmingham City and acts as Secretary of the Birmingham City Disabled Supporters Club (BCDSC).

John’s nomination read, “It is impossible to list all the changes John has pushed for but for me the most important thing is the time John dedicates to making sure that our supporters are all ok away from a match day.  John will never be the best at admin and can barely use a mobile phone or computer but, in an age where everything seems to be done by email and outlook calendars, I really believe his personal approach to all matters is a must in the role he is in and John spends many hours a day communicating with our disabled supporters. It is quite safe to say that many of [the club’s disabled fans] would not attend a football match if it wasn’t for John and for me that is what John deserves a lot of recognition for. I think after years of dedicating his life, not only to Birmingham City, but to making sure so many supporters can come to St. Andrew’s or travel around the country to away matches and enjoy the sport of football it’s about time he was given some recognition for what he gives our supporters and the game in general by getting so many others involved in it”.

We are delighted to recognise the great work that John has done at Birmingham City – congratulations John!

LPF are also presenting two special recognition awards recognising the achievements of both the retied DLO at Derby County and the Rugby Football League.

Keith Marson, the retired Disability Liaison Officer at Derby County FC.


Keith was recognised for his many years of service and his dedication to ensuring accessible facilities and services at the club on matchdays. His personal commitment and drive led to the implementation of many innovative and low cost solutions that have ensured that many more disabled fans can enjoy live football each week at Pride Park. In meeting accessible stadium standards, Derby County FC now stands as a benchmark of good practice and a testimony to what can be achieved when there is a true desire by all involved. Keith was able to convince the Board and Chief Executive of the good business sense in making the matchday more accessible with an additional 900 disabled supporter season tickets being sold last season. Pride Park has since been recognised by stakeholders across Europe for setting the standards in creating good access in an existing stadium and so by proving that it is not just new stadia that can be truly inclusive. We wish to thank Keith for his devotion to this topic and to the disabled fans at his club; they quite rightly recognise him as a true local hero within the game. Keith has joined Derby County FC in becoming an honorary life member of LPF).

Rugby Football League (RFL).

The RFL are also honoured with a special recognition award for its bold steps in being the first sports governing body to require its clubs to commission a professional access audit as part of the requirement of its club licensing in 2013 with the intention that audits will become part of RFL facility standards from 2014. The RFL has commissioned LPF to conduct an access audit at each of its championship clubs over the coming months and has instructed its super league clubs to do the same. We wish to thank and recognise the RFL for this important new governance ruling which will help to ensure that Rugby League clubs are inclusive and welcoming for all fans. It makes good sense for the RFL, their clubs and all their fans and we would implore that other sports governing bodies follow their lead in also setting and ensuring the standards required.