A Royal Marine has been awarded a county award for his work on football in the community.

Lee Simpson, a Colour Sergeant with the Corps, helps coach with Horrabridge Rangers Sports Association (HRSA), which organises grassroots sports in the village and neighbouring areas such as Walkhampton, Yelverton and Buckland Monachorum, also linking with schools.

Lee has been awarded the Devon FA Bobby Moore Trophy for his work with HRSA managing their 1st team and also supporting the crucial fundraising to support teams and the longer-term project to replace the Alexandra Sports Pavilion in Fillace Park in Horrabridge. He is on the fundraising committee and publicises the various activities in the village, such as ‘horse racing’ games in the London Inn, ‘beat the goalie’ competitions, one of which was at the King’s Coronation village party, and coordinates the clubs 50:50 prize lottery. 

He said: “When they told me I’d got the award I was speechless, which is something I’m rarely accused of. I’m very pleased that someone in the association thought about me and took the time and trouble to nominate me, then for Devon FA to take it seriously and agree to give it to me. I’m pretty honoured, considering all the people across Devon and all the good work they do.”

Lee has always been involved in amateur football and has coaching FA level two qualifications and coached several grassroots teams in Devon and within the Royal Navy – winning the RN Regional Inter-Command competition with Western Region in 2018.

“The whole HRSA philosophy is to provide opportunity for all in the communities to join teams and to develop and enjoy football,” he said. “We are working on creating a development pathway with competitive matches to provide youngsters with a pathway all the way through to adult’s football, otherwise they inevitably leave for better opportunities. We currently have 27 teams across all genders and ages groups, including four adult sides, three men’s and one female.

Lee moved to Plymouth 23 years ago with the marines after serving in Scotland with colleague and friend Ian Mulholland (the secretary of HRSA) and a background as an amateur goalkeeper.

Ian offered Lee a goalkeeper role and Lee learned of his friend’s vision to create HRSA as a community sports network nurturing talent and enthusiasm using supportive volunteers.

Lee, a father of three who lives in Plympton, said: “The association works with the keenness of volunteers rousing everyone to join teams the day before in a last-minute panic, for instance. I’ve played football all my life, so I know the struggles of community and amateur sport I played in under 16s and 18s in Yorkshire and played for 30 Commando. I have coached my son since he suddenly decided he did like football after I came back from Afghanistan in 2011. I still have three lads from that team who continue to play for me in the HRSA 1st team.  So, I must be doing something right.”