DAVE Drage was highly commended for his work as a football volunteer and as one of the nominees for the prestigious People’s Award at the 2014 FA and McDonald’s Community Awards national ceremony.

Already crowned a regional winner for the South West Region, the Chickerell United stalwart received thousands of nominations along with the seven other nominees.

Although the national prize eluded him, Drage met football legends Sir Geoff Hurst, Pat Jennings, Ray Parlour and Dietmar Hamann ahead of the FA Community Shield between Manchester City and Arsenal.

Open to a public vote, The People’s Award saw eight regional winners across England in the Outstanding Contribution to the Community category compete to become the national winner.

Now in their fifth year, The FA and McDonald’s Community Awa-rds recognise and celebrate volunteers, coaches, clubs and leagues across England whose hard work is vital in keeping grassroots football alive in their local community.

Drage joined Chickerell United in 1996 and has provided more than 17 years of continuous service to the club.

His vision and determination helped accelerate the team into the Dorset Premier Lea-gue after winning the Dorset Senior League for the second season in a row.

He was integral in setting up Chickerell United Youth FC, coaches youth players several nights a week and is a key organiser of the annual Chickerell United Youth Tournament.

Drage is also regularly involved with fundraising efforts for the club.

McDonald’s director of football, 1966 World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst, who is also part of the national judging panel, praised Drage for his efforts.

He said: “Dave embodies the spirit of grassroots football and it is testament to his hard work that Chickerell United are where they are now.

“It is people like Dave at a grassroots level that our national game relies upon week in, week out.

“Without their commitment, young footballers in this country couldn’t continue to grow and flourish.”