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Celebrating club spirit

10 May 2016

The 2016 Volunteers' Away Day

A celebration of the hard work dedicated to the club by our volunteers took place at Stevenage recently – and there was a surprise presentation for Chief Executive Erik Samuelson.

For those who missed our feature on the day in Saturday’s programme, the article is published below and a selection of pictures are in the gallery above.

  channel.You TubeInterviews with father-and-son Mark and Tom Lewis, along with Dennis Lowndes, talking about why AFC Wimbledon is so special, are on our official  

Almost 100 volunteers attended the annual volunteers’ away day at Stevenage, including Golden Goal ticket sellers, programme sellers, members of the merchandising and cash office teams, matchday stewards and volunteers at the annual stadium clean-up weekends. Generously sponsored by Cherry Red Records, volunteers were treated to free coach travel to and from the game, a meal at the Holiday Inn at Stevenage and a ticket to the match.

with a gold guinea in recognition of his work for the club.Erik Samuelson thanked volunteers for all the hard work they do simply for the love of AFC Wimbledon before presenting Iain McNayDuring a speech at the hotel, club vice-president

“Erik mentioned years ago that he had to be paid something in order to legally be our CEO and that it would be a guinea a year,” said Iain. “But I found out that he wasn’t taking what he was owed! I wanted to correct that and I managed to find a guinea dating back to the days of King George III. It’s still legal tender! I want to thank all of our volunteers here today because so many people appreciate what you do around the club. It’s fantastic that so many people help this club.”

is one of the club’s longest-serving volunteers. Having been kit man for many years, he now serves as chair of the AFC Wimbledon Ladies & Girls Section and helps with pitch maintenance on a match day. With 12 Ladies & Girls teams in all, Dennis is kept very busy during the week, and he is here at the club bright and early on Saturdays to help with the pitch. Such devotion to the Dons’ cause is admirable, but why does he give up so much time for the club?Dennis Lowndes

“The club is in my blood,” said Dennis. “For over 60 years since the age of five or six, I’ve been watching Wimbledon. I used to help the kit man at Wimbledon FC and also take some of the young players, including Neal Ardley, to matches. This included helping with the youth team and going up to places like Norwich with lots of good coaches. It’s great to be a part of this family club now – and we just grow from day to day.

“On a match day now I get to the club as early as I can to help with the pitch. There is loads to do around the ground, including putting the nets up. This year the Womble Underground Press has helped with sponsorship, and that’s why we have blue and yellow nets.

“During the week I have games to organise for the Ladies and Girls teams. There are cup finals to organise, and I want to watch my granddaughter play too. Next season Lily is going to come to the trials, and hopefully I’ll have two granddaughters playing for AFC Wimbledon!

chips in by doing odd jobs around the ground at stadium clean-up weekends in the summer, and now Mark is encouraging his daughter to get involved.Tom has also been volunteering since the early days of AFC Wimbledon, and it’s now become very much a family affair for him. His nine-year-old son Mark Lewis

“It really is a family atmosphere at this club. My wife, daughter and two boys go to games. Though my daughter isn’t the world’s biggest football fan, she is enthusiastic about potentially helping out with selling programmes next season! What matters at this club is that we are all kindred spirits. It’s totally diverse in terms of people’s backgrounds, but we are all bonded by being Wimbledon fans.

“I was part of the group that used to help sell merchandise on the stage in the back bar and I helped when the club shop was put together. Now I help with the stadium clean-ups in the summer. There’s a very convivial atmosphere at the club. For anyone who has never helped out, they are more than welcome to come and join in. Whatever time they can give up can really help the club.”

has been a familiar face at the club for many years, playing a vital role in the Dons Trust. Currently in his third year on the Dons Trust Board, Mark was previously DTB secretary and has helped with fundraising activities in the past. In recent times, he was involved in the “Back in 2 Ticks” campaign, an initiative launched to help get the club back to Plough Lane.Mark Davis

“People are so dedicated here that they actually miss a lot of what goes on in games because they are doing jobs for the club,” said Mark. “That never fails to astonish me. We owe the volunteers a huge debt of gratitude. They make the club better for us as supporters, and our volunteer base is what makes us so different.

“I think watching the club grow, knowing what is going on, and being involved in that, is why we all do it. They are the best things for me. We need more volunteers, though – having fresh blood, particularly for the Dons Trust in terms of bringing in new ideas, would be welcome. We have a different atmosphere here than at other clubs, and that’s down to the volunteers.”

since AFC Wimbledon was reborn. Assisting the club’s safety officer, Phil Clark, since the early days, Paul has helped matchday security progress a lot since the club was in the Combined Counties League.Paul FletcherCreating a safe environment for supporters to watch a match has been the priority for

“It was hectic back then, but it’s a lot more organised now,” said Paul. “I get satisfaction from ensuring that everyone can watch the game safely. That’s what we get out of it, pure and simple. It’s a big part of our lives because we give up our entire Saturday to do the job. I’m here at 9.30 am and sometimes I don’t get away until 7.00 pm. But it’s great to be involved so much at the club.”

are part of a 12-strong team put together by Roger Dennis. As well as a bit of friendly competition to sell the most tickets, there’s another key reason for David’s involvement.Beverley and David BalchinSince the sales of Golden Goals tickets began back in 2002, nearly £180,000 has been raised for the club. This scheme relies on a dedicated team of helpers doing their bit on every match day. Mother and son

“It helps to kill a few hours and keeps away the pre-match nerves,” said David, who barely misses a game, home or away. “We’re all friends in the Golden Goals team, and it’s an enjoyable experience to be a part of it.”

“It’s like one big family at the club,” added his mother, Beverley. “This event today is not expected by us, but it’s become a tradition. It is a nice way to thank everyone, and I can’t believe how many people help out at the club. It’s amazing.”

The ultimate reward was still to come for our volunteers at the Lamex Stadium when our volunteers celebrated Neal Ardley’s men making the League Two play-offs. Without our dedicated team of volunteers, it’s unlikely that the club would have progressed so far since 2002.

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