A MAN described as “Mr Wotton Hockey Club” has received a lifetime achievement award from the Gloucestershire Hockey Association.

Alan Hooper, who has just stepped down as club chairman after 18 years in the role, has been recognised for his service to the sport in the county over the last 30 years.

The 65-year-old from Kingswood was captain of Stroud for a long time, where he handed former Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School pupil Simon Mason his first taste of senior hockey before he went on to become Great Britain’s most capped goalkeeper, representing them in three Olympic Games.

Hooper, who was recently invited back to Stroud for their centenary celebrations, joined his local club Wotton shortly after they were founded in 1989 and was chairman for 18 years.

He still plays in the second team, coaches the boys’ under-16s side and will remain on the committee as fixture secretary.

Stuart Emms, who has replaced Hooper as chairman, said: “His passion, dedication and energy shown towards our club and the sport is outstanding.

“We as a club nominated Alan for all the work he’s done. He’s been Mr Wotton Hockey Club for the last 20 years.

“He is a level one assistant coach and in the last three years a whole new generation of players and parents have had the benefit of his experience.”

Hooper was delighted to receive the award and said his love for the sport is what has kept him dedicated for so long.

“I felt thrilled and honoured, particularly honoured because it was recognition by my peers and it doesn’t get any better than that,” he said.

“Once I couldn’t play at a high standard I got a tremendous amount of satisfaction from coaching other people to improve them in a sport that has given me so much.

“I started a lot of young men like Simon (Mason) playing senior hockey. He was already very well coached at KLB but I’d like to think I did a little bit to enthuse someone who went onto play very well.”

Wotton enjoyed one of their most successful seasons in 2011/12 with the men’s first team winning the Davis Wood Hockey League Severn Division and the seconds also celebrating promotion from Hereford and Gloucestershire Division Two as runners-up.

Hooper felt it was the right time to stand aside and had already lined up Emms to take over.

“I was proud to be chairman for so long,” Hooper added.

“We just had one of the best seasons ever and I just thought it was the right time to hand it over to someone with new ideas.”