For a long time Delwyn Derrick has been hailed a community champion by many people – but now it is official.
Wrexham-based Delwyn is the BBC Wales’ Get Inspired Unsung Hero 2019 award winner.
He will receive the prestigious national accolade at the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year ceremony at the Celtic Manor in Newport on December 10.
However, news of his success was announced on the BBC Wales Today programme this evening.
A leading figure in Wrexham’s migrant community, Delwyn is best known as the founder and manager of Bellevue FC, a multi-nationality team comprising players from all across the world.
This week brought just another Tuesday night of training for the North East Wales League side, with the exception that a BBC film crew had set up shop at Queensway Sports Centre to film a piece about the inclusion football club.
Training went on as normal, with a few players being taken to the side and interviewed for five minutes at a time and then returning to the action.
Just another night, until Wrexham AFC legend Mickey Thomas walked out onto the field to officially name Delwyn as 2019’s Unsung Hero.
The players realised what was happening and surrounded their gaffer, smiles all round for the team who realised that their little club had just received a huge honour.
Delwyn was lost for words, thanked his team and told them the award was more theirs than his, as without them, there was no Bellevue FC.
Tributes have poured in following the announcement of Delwyn’s achievement.
Councillor Phil Wynn of Wrexham’s Brynyffynon ward, where Bellevue Park is based.
“In such a short period of time Bellevue FC have made an admirable contribution towards raising the profile of issues faced daily by individuals on the fringe of society.
“We are fortunate that under Delwyn’s stewardship a football club with family values has established itself at Bellevue Park and I wish them all the best with their future plans to develop the club.
“Delwyn’s energy and determination in setting up Bellevue FC is a great advert to the younger generation as to what good works can be achieved by the gift of volunteering. Congratulations to Delwyn on receiving the BBC Wales Unsung Hero award.”
Long-term sponsor and supporter of Bellevue, Cllr Mark Jones.
“Delwyn is one of those unsung heroes who make things happen at grassroots level in communities across the country.
“It’s a fantastic achievement to put together a team from such diverse backgrounds and make them a part of our community here in Wrexham. Much of their success is down to Delwyn and other support staff who have driven this from day one.
“It’s a well-deserved recognition at a national level and I hope this spurs him and the club onto greater success.”
On behalf of Wrexham AFC Disabled Supporters Association, Stephen Gilbert.
“We didn’t know Delwyn prior to inviting him to join us in the 2018 Community Cup, but we soon realised he shared so many of our values.
“We’ve gone on to form a close bond as organisations and as friends. He is a top man and we are delighted he has been chosen for this award. This is a great day for inclusion sport and a fantastic advertisement for the good that it does in our society. It is amazing to see a true community club being recognised nationally for these values.”
And the players naturally wanted their say, too, on the man affectionately nicknamed “Sheep”.
Tiago Ginja, a Bellevue player and founding member.
“It’s been three amazing seasons at Bellevue FC with a great man, Delwyn ‘Sheep’ Derrick.
“This guy is more than a gaffer for all of us, he’s more our brother. He has given people the opportunity to play football no matter what and most importantly, he always sticks with our family. I am very proud to be his team mate and also his brother !
“Also I am very happy that he won the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year award as an Unsung Hero, he has earned it. Well done my dear friend.”
NEWFA chairman and retired PE teacher, John Mann.
“As both his ex PE teacher and as current chairman of North East Wales FA, I am very proud of Delwyn winning this honour, something he thoroughly deserves.
“His work with Bellevue FC, made up of equality and diversity groups is a shining light in the world of football. It is something he has a great passion for and now it has been recognised nationally and I hope this award will be one of many.”
North East Wales League secretary Nicola Beech, whose late and much-missed father Mike was a close friend of Delwyn’s.
“We are extremely proud of all of our clubs and encourage them as well as we can to achieve whatever they set out to do.
“It’s not just about football for our clubs, it’s about the community spirit and people getting involved, but most of all it is that dedication to the badge worn on their shirts and true dedication to grassroots football.
“This is something that Delwyn has instilled into his players at Bellevue; they don’t mind where they are in the table because as long as they have their friends with them they are happy. We are pleased for Delwyn and what he has achieved for Bellevue FC and we congratulate him on his award.”
And a world exclusive! A first-ever media quote from the wife – Samantha Derrick!
“I’m very proud of how much Sheep has achieved with the club in such a short time. He always puts the maximum amount of effort into helping these lads regardless of what they come to him with.
“This means he has fostered a family instead of just a club. Even though this club has taken over most aspects of our lives, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sure that all the lads on the team would agree with me that he really is an unsung hero. Even if he’s happy that way, we’re glad he’s got the recognition he deserves.”
Bellevue player Joao De Silva.
“Sheep is a great man, he is one of those people who is always there for anyone who needs him. If anyone at the club is having a bad day, Sheep is never far away to put a smile back on their face.
“I know that if I was in Australia and I called him for help, he would be on the next plane out there just to check on me. He really is Bellevue’s dad. It is so amazing to see him win this award, he truly is the greatest, friendliest person you could ever meet and I am so happy that the whole country can now recognise what he has done for all of us.”
Delwyn will attend the Wales Sports Awards in Celtic Manor on Tuesday, December 10, and also the main BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards at the P&J Live Arena in Aberdeen.
As a regional award winner, he has also made the 15-strong shortlist to win the UK award on December 15 at the event hosted by Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan.
Delwyn was nominated for the BBC Wales Get Inspired Unsung Hero award by a couple of people close to Bellevue FC.
The nomination highlighted his commitment to the players, including bringing a player into his home when he was made homeless, directly preventing a suicide within the club and generally always going that extra mile.
Bellevue player Nathaniel Ramsey said: “The word “unsung” on this award is truly the most deserved word ever attributed to a human being. I could spend the rest of my life trying to explain the ways in which he has helped and saved me and not get close to doing him justice.
“Sheep you are a legend! You deserve every bit of honour and respect that comes from an award like this. Love you brother.”
And Lord Roger Roberts, spokesman on youth democratic engagement, unemployment, asylum, migration and Welsh affairs for the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, expressed his pride at Delwyn’s achievement.
“Many of the well-known football clubs have already given overseas players, who are refugees a chance to take part in games. We are most grateful to them. Bellevue FC took the lead and became the first Citizens of the World football club.
“Who knows, perhaps themselves and similar clubs will discover “star” players? It is already giving people from many different countries opportunity and hope. Our gratitude to Delwyn and his colleagues for all the amazing work they are doing. Bellevue Football Club is a wonderful example which others will, I’m certain, follow.”
And the final words from the man himself – BBC Wales’ Get Inspired Unsung Hero 2019 Delwyn Derrick.
“This still hasn’t sunk in for me yet, and to be honest I don’t think it ever will. I don’t feel like a hero, unsung or otherwise. Without my lads, I’m literally just a guy who rents a patch of grass.
“It’s the people at Bellevue, their stories and their incredible friendship that makes this club, and it feels more like I’m being awarded this on their behalf. I don’t see this as mine, I see it as ours. I’m so glad I get to share this with my team, because they are my unsung heroes.”