Grassroots sports hero recognised for his efforts
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
AN Etherley resident has been presented with the British Empire Medal for his services to grassroots sport at a special ceremony at his care home.
Charlie Donaghy, 85, spent most of his life involved in local sport, including playing basketball for Durham County, club cricket,
badminton, billiards and snooker.
For more than two decades he was games secretary at Durham Club and Institute Union and a lifelong supporter of his home team, Tow Law Town Football Club.
His commitment was recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list last year when he was awarded a British Empire Medal.
In 2012 Mr Donaghy was chosen to carry the Olympic torch through Darlington ahead of the London Games, something he was immensely proud of, and he cherished the white tracksuit he was given.
Last week he was presented with the medal at a special ceremony, attended by family and friends, at The Fields Care Home, in Etherley, where he has lived for a number of years.
Lord Lieutenant of Durham Sue Snowden presented the medal but Mr Donaghy remained in his room at the care home during the event due to failing health.
Mrs Snowden said: “I have been asked by the Queen to carry out the investiture of the medal to Charles, or Charlie, because he has done so much for grassroots sport and it is well deserved”
Due to Covid restrictions, family, friends, staff and
other residents gathered in the garden of the home, where Mrs Snowden read the citation.
It was filmed by Mr Donaghy’s daughter, Anna Oulton, and streamed to her brother, Ian, who remained with his father through the event, joined by his son Billy, 15.
Afterwards Mrs Snowden presented the medal personally to Mr Donaghy.
Long-time friend and former Northern Echo newspaper columnist Mike Amos, also attended the ceremony. He said: “Charlie was born and bred in Tow Law and what he didn’t know about grassroots sport wasn’t worth knowing.
“Even after he gave up playing, he churned out thousands of words each week for the Northern Echo on every different sport.”
Mr Amos recalled Mr Donaghy persuading Sir Bobby Robson to speak at a fundraising event for Tow Law Town FC after turning up univited at the football legend’s door. Sir Bobby later spoke at the function for free.