Shropshire

Worldwide football charity co-ordinator appointed MBE

Squadron Leader Neil Hope
Image caption Mr Hope has been to Kenya three times to deliver sports shirts and footballs

The organiser of an international football charity is among eight people in Shropshire to be recognised in the New Year Honours list.

Sqn Ldr Neil Hope from RAF Shawbury has been appointed MBE for his charity work.

He runs Taking Football to Africa and Beyond which collects and redistributes football kits across the world.

Mr Hope, who lives in Shawbury with his wife and daughter, said: "It's fantastic, I'm incredibly proud."

'Stronger than ever'

He said the appeal that started in 2006 had so far delivered 49,000 items, including 19,000 shirts, to 39 countries.

Mr Hope said: "The intention was that it would only run until the end of that year after the [FIFA] World Cup Finals but it's going stronger than ever at the moment.

"I've got another 7,000 items in stock that need to be delivered."

He has been to Kenya three times to personally deliver some of the shirts and footballs that are collected from across the UK and is planning a fourth trip in May.

Mr Hope has also been recognised in the honours list for other fundraising activities over the past six years, which have seen more than £100,000 raised for charities including the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

Other Shropshire recipients include:

MBEs for Thomas Francis Baker, founder of The Hopton Castle Preservation Trust, for services to heritage; Cyril Gittins from Shrewsbury, estate yard foreman to the National Trust at Attingham Park, for services to heritage; Lawrence Houghton, senior officer at HM Revenue and Customs; Geoffrey Arthur Vernon from Market Drayton for services to Market Drayton Festival Centre.

There are OBEs for Martyn Cribb from Pontebury for services to education; Grenville Jackson, who lives in Shropshire and is formerly deputy director of Skills, Higher Education and Lifelong Learning at the Welsh Assembly Government; Professor Peter Charles Russell Latchford, from Church Stretton, for services to business and to the community in the West Midlands.

More on this story