Donal Townson's 40 years of nurturing a love of sport in more than 30,000 primary school children across Tamesidewas recognised at the Pride of Tameside Sports Awards 2015 where he was named Unsung Hero of the Year.
Despite recently retiring from his 24-year post as Deputy-Head and sports teacher at St John Fisher R.C. Primary School in Denton, he continues to have an impact as a leading figure, continuing as Secretary of the Tameside Schools' Football Association and working with Active Tameside, the Tameside Schools' Sports Partnership and Denton Girls' F.C. to develop opportunities for Year 3 / Year 4 pupils.
He dedicated his award to the many people who volunteer their time to get children into sport.
“It is a great privilege and honour to receive the award when there were so many worthy nominations. But this is award is not just for me, it’s for all those volunteers who work day in day out, year in year out, to help the young people of Tameside get involved in sport.”
His own love of sport started when he was growing up in Northern Ireland and he started teaching in Tameside in 1975 and devoted many extra hours a day to coaching sport before and after school as well as lunchtimes and weekends.
“It has been a great pleasure to see so many young people develop their skills and get to a good level – one of my former pupils competed in the London Olympics and another has played football at Wembley.
“Even though I’m not teaching now I’m still heavily involved in the administration side of school sport, organising the primary schools' leagues and cup competitions, and still go along to some matches. I guess you could say I’m still an ambassador for school sport and I’m pleased to say school sport in Tameside is in a very healthy state and it’s in good hands for the future.”