Sutton man Allen Urch awarded MBE for services to swimming

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A SUTTON man who has inspired young people to swim and a fundraiser who has supported Nottinghamshire Police have both been recognised in the 2012 New Year honours.

Allen Urch, from Sutton, has been awarded an MBE for his services to swimming in Nottinghamshire after almost five decades teaching and coaching at Sutton Swimming Club

He said: “It is a big surprise and an honour to have been awarded an MBE in the New Year 2012 Honours List.”

Allen became interested in swimming 47 years ago when his two children joined Sutton Swimming Club and he went on to become head coach for 30 years.

At the age of 81 he continues to teach and coach at the club four evenings each week and he also officiates at Saturday or Sunday galas throughout the county as well as at national competitions.

Allen received a Diploma from the International Olympic Committee in 2001 for sustained and outstanding achievement. He has also received several voluntary service awards from Nottinghamshire County Council and Ashfield District Council including Ashfield Citizen of the Year in 2007.

In addition, he serves on various committees both at Sutton Swimming Club along with the Nottinghamshire Amateur Swimming Association and he was President of club in 2008. Allen is also a life member of the Derby and Nottinghamshire League.

Allen’s aim is to make swimming enjoyable as well as develop the skills of young people.

He says: “I hope all children that I teach swimming to will carry on from a young age into their teenage years and beyond because I believe it gives them confidence, teaches dedication and how to work as a team.”

Meanwhile, Sarah Smithurst, who is the Crimestoppers co-ordinator for Nottinghamshire Police, has also been awarded an MBE for her work to promote the charity both in the UK and in Ghana.

The mother-of-two makes sure that information received from Crimestoppers is passed to the right investigating officers and she has been central in the launch a number of very successful campaigns, including Rat on a Rat, which targets drug dealers.

Sarah’s work in the UK led to her being asked to launch a similar project called Crimefighters by the British High Commission in Ghana.

The scheme is similar to the UK’s Crimestoppers, although it is not independent as it is in the UK because the calls are handled by the Ghanaian Police.

Sarah, who is based in Mansfield, was responsible for training operators on how to handle calls that come in and what to do with the information.

Since August 2009, Sarah has made three successful trips to Ghana in her own time, and has seen Crimefighters become a success, despite the fact that it has few resources or financial help.

She was made an honorary Superintendent in the Ghanaian Police to thank her for her support.

Sarah has continued to promote her work home and abroad, working with the National Police Aid Convoy (NPAC) to arrange for several containers to be filled with donations from the public and delivered, to help support orphans and poor communities in Ghana.

She said: “I was very shocked to hear that I had received an MBE but of course I am very humbled, honoured and pleased.

“I don’t feel that I have done anything out of the ordinary as I really think that this recognition is not just for me, it is also for Nottinghamshire Police and the public of Nottinghamshire who have called in to give information which has led to the many arrests and charges we have seen.

“I live in Nottinghamshire and of course want to see the city and county safe and crime-free. My role helps me to play a part in doing so by passing on relevant information to the right people, to get criminals off the street. I am proud to be a part of a force that enables me to do this.

“I would also like to express my sincere thanks for all the help I have received from NPAC, who play a pivotal part in getting aid to those people abroad who need it and a special thank you should go to the Ghanaian Police and the British High Commission in Ghana who have supported me in all my work.”