A caring coach from Peterhead who has committed the past two decades to helping budding young footballers has been recognised with a national honour.
Walter Innes has been given a British Citizen Award for his services to the community.
The British Citizen Awards (BCAs) were launched in January 2015, to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society.
BCAs are awarded twice annually, and honur ‘everyday’ people whose achievements may otherwise be overlooked.
Walter, aged 53, has given up almost every Monday night for the past 22 years to coach budding footballers in Peterhead and the surrounding areas at his Hexagon Football Coaching club, only missing an amazing total of five sessions in the whole of that time.
Passionate and dedicated to football, he is now teaching the children of some of the dads he originally taught many years ago.
And while the sessions can at times be frustrating due to the age group spanning from five to 12 years old, Walter never loses his patience or says a bad word about his group.
Walter not only teaches the children football skills, but life skills too.
He ensures that no child is left out and mixes up the group to encourage less confident children to fully participate.
Walter has helped many children with disabilities to participate in the sport throughout the years, including children with down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and Asperger’s – no child is discouraged or turned away and are always integrated into the groups.
Hexagons has also raised thousands of pounds for charity over the years.
Parents say one of the biggest impact Walter’s Hexagon sessions have is on the confidence of the children who attend the sessions.
Walter has instilled, apart from excellent knowledge of the game and rules, manners and consideration for others, making difference to 1,000s of young children’s lives.
Nearly every member of Peterhead Boys Club has been trained by Hexagons, and all Peterhead football teams are doing extremely well as a result of the passing football that Walter has instilled in them from a young age.
Walter is well known in the community and also helps his wife, Marion, with various fundraising events locally.
He has also been a scout for Aberdeen football club for many years and is a SFA qualified coach.
Walter, was amongst 36 medallists honoured at a prestigious ceremony on January 25 at the Palace of Westminster.
All BCA recipients had positively impacted society undertaking various activities in support of a number of worthy causes. Each received a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words ‘For the Good of the Country’.
Medallists can use the initials BCA after their name.
Speaking about the award, Walter said: “I was very surprised and delighted to have been nominated as publicity and awards are not what I’m about.
“If someone had said to me all those years ago that I would still be doing this 22 years later, I wouldn’t have believed them but I’ve loved every minute of it.
“The reason Hexagon has been such a success is the standard of coaches we have had over the last 24 years and I would like to thank them all for the help they have given me.”
Group Executive Director of affordable housing, Pat Egan, from at BCA sponsor Places for People, said: “Places for People are proud to support the British Citizen Awards.
“I was thrilled to present Walter with this award for services to the community.
“His passion for football, time and encouragement over the last two decades has helped to enhance the lives of thousands of children, building confidence and developing important life skills. He thoroughly deserves this recognition.”
Walter was nominated for a BCA by his friend Ross Mann, who said: “Walter is genuinely the most patient man I have ever met, with parents, coaches and of course with the children.
“He works full time, rushes home, misses his supper and goes straight to the community hall to set up for the night, and without a doubt he will always be the first coach there.
“Personally, he has had a big impact upon my life, as he has coached me as a player, and developed me as a person.”