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MBEs for Solihull duo

A SOLIHULL housing association chief and a soccer school founder are among the locals to make the New Year’s Honours List.

A SOLIHULL housing association chief and a soccer school founder are among the locals to make the New Year’s Honours List.

The chief executive of Birmingham and Coventry-based Ashram Housing Association, Jas Bains, was awarded an MBE for his services to housing.

And 45-year-old Leroy Richards, founder of Football Futures, was also handed an MBE for services to community cohesion in the West Midlands.

Jas, a married father-of-one, has led a range of acclaimed community initiatives, including the Bend it like Birmingham sports inclusion project.

It has seen more than 5,000 young people in east Birmingham take part in sport since 2008, and launched the youth engagement website socialbreakfast.org.

The 47- year-old said: “It is a great privilege to be given this honour.

“Such accolades are never down to a single achievement and I would like to thank all my colleagues within Ashram and the Accord Group.

“I would also like to thank all those that I have worked with over the past 20 years, without their support this wouldn’t have been possible.”

Leroy heads a team of volunteer coaches who train almost a thousand children at local “soccer schools” including Chelmsley Wood, each week.

The pioneering initiative was set up in Kingstanding in 2001.

The scheme has helped prove how football can help children break free from under-privileged backgrounds.

Since being launched it has also expanded to Sparkhill, Balsall Heath and Lozells.

The football coach can certainly identify with the youngsters having spent time in prison for cannabis offences in the early nineties.

He said: “I’m still in shock, I must have read the letter a million times looking for a mistake.

“If you’d told me when I came out of prison that I’d receive an MBE I would have laughed.”

 

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