Waltham Forest Hockey Club volunteer Matt Lovell was beaten to the England Hockey volunteer of the year award on Saturday

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Matt Lovell (left) has previously won the London round of the BBC Unsung Hero of the Year Award Matt Lovell (left) has previously won the London round of the BBC Unsung Hero of the Year Award

Matt Lovell missed out on the England Hockey award for the club volunteer of the year after being nominated for his work as a youth coordinator at Waltham Forest Hockey Club.

The awards dinner was held at Bisham Abbey on the banks of the Thames on Saturday evening but Lovell was beaten to the gong by Stuart Burnside.

Lovell, who is set to retire later this year, has dedicated an enormous amount of his spare time to promoting the sport in Waltham Forest and has encouraged participation both locally and across the region.

Winner of the BBC London Unsung Hero award in 2013, Lovell was nominated for the prize by the club after eight years of dedicated service.

Prior to his involvement, there were no junior clubs in the area other than Old Loughtonians but Lovell has since helped implement a thriving junior league framework.

Lovell has also helped to grow Waltham Forest’s membership from its humble beginnings to its present-day size of more than 150 juniors across a number of sections.

Since the formation of the junior section in 2006, Lovell has overseen a significant rise in the number of volunteers coaching at the club, working tirelessly to raise the funds required for 23 coaches to complete their level one qualifications in the sport.

With a number of former junior players returning to the club to play adult hockey, Lovell has formed new men’s and ladies’ sides to accomodate the demand and the club now boasts five men’s and women’s teams on top of the junior and pan-disabled sections.

Outside of the club, Lovell took over the running of the Essex Mini League in 2009, restructuring it to enable more teams from a greater range of clubs to take part.

The league has grown four-fold since, with clubs across Essex, Hertford and Suffolk entering the league, which has now been extended to include Under-14s on top of the Under-12 and Under-10 categories already in place.

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