Kew Park Rangers chairman Jean-Francois Burford honoured with British Empire Medal

The chairman of a football club that has grown from 10 children to 800 players in less than 20 years has been honoured with a British Empire Medal. Jean-Francois Burford, 59, began running Saturday football with fellow dad Rob Sheldon in 1997 as their children did not have access to the sport at school. The children began playing in Westley Ware by Kew Bridge before entering various small-sided tournaments. The club eventually registered with the Surrey FA and moved to North Sheen Recreational Park, and Kew Park Rangers FC was officially born. The club now has 800 players in 39 teams that include girls, boys, adult, disabled and walking sides and it was named as the FA National Charter Standard Community Club of the Year, the top honour for grassroots clubs, in 2015. Mr Burford, a former councillor, was named in the honours list after being nominated by the community and said being awarded the British Empire Medal was a privilege. He said: “It was completely unexpected. I do it for the enjoyment of it and when I got the letter I was completely stunned by it. I have to thank the community and all the people involved in the club.”