Volunteer Chris’s goal is to help others

Chris Fox
Chris Fox

A keen footballer from Luton, who volunteers extensively, has been nominated for a Bedfordshire Young People of the Year (YOPEY) award.

Chris Fox has given his service in a number of roles, including coaching youngsters with disabilities.

Despite having moderate learning difficulties and mild Tourette¹s, Chris has remained committed to helping others.

This is the seventh time that a YOPEY competition has been held in Bedfordshire to reveal, recognise and rewardpositive role models who go the extra mile to help others.

The winner will receive a prize of £800 ­– half for themselves and half for a good cause ­ out of a total pot of £2,000.

Chris, 22, of Watermead Road, was nominated by Julia Ladbrooke, football development officer with Bedfordshire FA.

Chris is a goalkeeper in an adult disability league and that is what led him to volunteer with the county FA for the past 18 months. He is keen on collecting statistics, both for local football and for himself in logging his hours and setting targets to hit. He has volunteered more than 300 hours in support of the game.

Chris has a special role on the county FA youth council, where young people can give their views and opinions on developing the game locally.

He has helped coach youngsters with disabilities at secondary schools across Bedfordshire, organising sessions and putting out equipment. He keeps a record of scores and other vital information and is also liaison officer for the Beds FA’s five-a-side adult league.

At Luton Town FC he has looked after 150 safety jackets for three years. Safety team manager Bill O’Connor said: “Chris first came to us to work as a safety steward. Unfortunately his learning difficulty meant that he would not be suitable, but I had a need for assistance in maintaining control of the safety jackets worn by our staff.

“This had been a major headache for me. Jackets were going missing and the coatroom was in a permanent mess. Chris was very adept at keeping things in order.”

Last year Chris undertook a level one coaching course for people with disabilities. Julia said this qualification was a huge challenge for Chris.

She added: “Having not met the required standard at his first try he persevered, practised with the help of development staff and passed his assessment second time around. He led a competent, safe and enjoyable session for his participants with no support.”

Chris also volunteers to do admin work at Beds FA’s headquarters in Skimpot Road, Dunstable. He recently started his first paid job, part-time work at a supermarket in Houghton Regis, collecting trolleys and helping customers. A spokesman for Morrisons said: “We are extremely proud of Chris. We are delighted that he enjoys his career and wish him every success and luck in this award.”

He admits that when he first tried for the level one coaching he found some parts difficult. “I continued with it and I was pleased when I achieved it,” he said.

In addition he has achieved a first-aid qualification and he also plays badminton.

Chris’s football skills were praised by the chairman of the English Schools Football Association, who is also his former schoolteacher.

Dave Woollaston met Chris at Icknield High School, Luton, and found the then teenager’s love of football insatiable.

He said: “Many teachers like to tell of their students’ successes in football, mostlyboasting about their rise to the professional ranks, and I have some of those tales to tell.

“However, my top story is going to be all about Chris Fox, the lad who has given far more back to football than was ever given to him.”

Chris helps out at Neet Teens, a physically handicapped and able-bodied club at St Francis’ Church in Hollybush Road, Luton, for an evening each week.

He sets up and fixes the electronic games consoles and runs the tuck shop for 26 members aged 11 to 22.

The club¹s organiser, Judith Husbands, said: “We would be lost without him. When he says he is going away ­ usually to do something with football we panic and cannot wait for him to come back.”