Mel Cook has a long-standing relationship with Haywards Heath RFC having first played for the club back in 1974. After three years an injury forced him to retire from the playing field so he decided instead to dedicate himself to what is now over 40 years of voluntary service for the club.
Running the clubhouse bar for over 25 years, he has acted as both treasurer and secretary of the club and to this day is an indispensable resource often to be found at the club be it overseeing security, rebooting the boiler or checking the fire extinguishers.
In May this year Mel received the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer of the Year Award for Sussex and he has subsequently been shortlisted for the national finals.
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On Friday, September 7 he has the chance to take a close look at the England Rugby Training Centre at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot before enjoying a behind the scenes tour at Twickenham Stadium, followed by a special black tie reception and dinner when the winners of the prestigious national awards will be announced.
Mel himself refers to the club as his hobby but the current board knows how much time and effort he commits to helping keep the club operating week in, week out.
Commenting on the recognition, Mark Newey, HHRFC chairman said: “We are delighted Mel has been singled-out for recognition for everything he has done for Heath RFC over a very long period of time.
"The fantastic news for our club is that Mel continues to support us in any way he can and we hope his example will inspire others to join the team of volunteers that help Heath move forward, providing an important sports facility for the Mid Sussex community.”
The new rugby season is fast-approaching with the Heath 1st XV sponsored by Fairfax playing its final pre-season friendly away at Old Reigatians on Saturday, September 1 kick -off 2pm.
The Heath youth section - both minis sponsored by The Orchards and juniors sponsored by Besana - resume weekly training on Sunday 2 September at Whitemans Green.
All new players at seniors, colts or for ages from under-six through to under-16 are welcome - see the club website at www.hhrfc.co.uk for more information.