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MBE for Mel

Hethersett’s Mr Sport Mel Perkins has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours. 

Mel, 60, has been honoured for his services to the sports of cycle speedway and football as the founder of both Hethersett Hawks Cycle Speedway Club and Hethersett Athletic Football Club. 

Mel, who is married with two grown up sons, said he was delighted by the award: 

“I’m absolutely thrilled. It’s quite stunning and recognition of 45 years’ work. It’s a nice gesture, “ he said. 

Mel started the Hawks club at the tender age of 16 in 1966: 

“I was asked to race for a friend’s team and the following year I started my own club in Hethersett at the age of 16,” he said.  One of his main motivators was to keep youngsters like himself off the streets. 

At the same time as founding Hethersett Hawks, Mel also became minutes’ secretary of the local league.   

Today, 45 years on, he is club secretary and manager, organising weekly club nights, matches, team selection, transport, a weekly newsletter as well as keeping club records and preparing the track on the Memorial Playing Field.   

Mel has also been a leading light as a administrator of the sport including co-ordinator of the Norfolk Cycle Speedway Association where he deals with fixtures, results and county teams; chairman, treasurer and fixtures co-ordinator for the South-East League; and manager of the British Youth and Junior League.  

“I believe my greatest achievement has been in keeping a village club going for 45 years and developing local riders to achieve four British team championships and three individual British champions. My motivation has been to keep youngsters off the streets and get them involved in a great team sport which provides them with the security of club life and an opportunity to achieve at the highest level. It has been very rewarding to see riders develop from raw novices to become some of the top riders in the country and also to see new riders taking up the sport,” he said.   

In 2008 his contribution to cycle speedway was recognised when he was presented with the Eastern Region Volunteers award at the British Cycling presentation evening in Bolton in recognition of outstanding work as a club official. 

In 1991 Mel diversified his sporting interests by setting up Hethersett Athletic with just one youth team. Over the past 20 years the club has grown into one of the biggest in Norfolk with 17 teams and over 300 players covering both sexes and all ages from seven to veteran. Mel is currently club secretary and played a major part in the club being awarded prestigious National FA Charter awards over the past six years. 

“Mel’s contribution to football in Hethersett and in Norfolk through his association with youth leagues has been immense and the honour is thoroughly well deserved for all the work he has put in with so many youngsters over so many years,” said Hethersett Athletic chairman Peter Steward. 

Shortly after the official announcement of his honour, Mel was out doing what comes naturally – combining his two sporting loves by mounting a cycle speedway demonstration at the Hethersett Athletic Football Club funday at Hethersett Junior School.