BOURNEMOUTH stalwart and Hampshire supremo Mike Ward has received England Hockey’s coveted Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his phenomenal contribution to the sport for close on 50 years.

A goalkeeper for hometown club Bournemouth in his playing days, Mr Ward has combined the roles of South League chairman, Hampshire president and men’s league secretary for a 47 years, besides holding countless other posts in county hockey.

He has also held numerous off-field administrative roles with Bournemouth at both Kinson and Chapel Gate.

With more than 650 teams, the South League is the largest of its kind in the country and, irrespective of the weather, Mr Ward will always be on a touchline in the winter, umpiring, assessing or watching a game.

Collecting his cut-glass Shard-design award at a glittering gala dinner in Leicester, Mr Ward confessed he was “taken aback, totally surprised and almost emotional” when his citation was read to the 600-strong audience.

“I had absolutely no idea it was coming. I’m generally not one for awards, but feel immensely proud to be have been recognised by England Hockey in this way,” he smiled.

“First and foremost, I’m an administrator and thoroughly enjoy all I do for the game.”