Supporters Direct to grant annual award in memory of Jacqui Forster

The award will recognise women who promote the values and principles of the trust movement

Supporters’ trusts will celebrate the legacy of Jacqui Forster with an annual award for women who promote the trust movement.

The award is a joint initiative of Supporters Direct, the umbrella body for supporter trusts, and 20 members of the trust movement who knew Jacqui.

A passionate Altrincham FC fan, Jacqui dedicated a great part of her life to empowering other supporters. She passed away on 22 April at the age of 55 after a long battle with cancer.

As a child Jacqui used to attend football games with her father, also an Alty fan, who she lost at the age of 21. Later on, her contribution to setting up the Support the Altrincham Robins Supporters’ Trust drew the attention of Supporters Direct, who offered her a job as head of casework and constitutional affairs in 2003. She described it as her “dream job”.

Her role involved working with supporters to purchase and develop community-owned clubs, using her expertise as legal practitioner. While at Supporters Direct, she helped to set up more than 200 such trusts as democratically run community benefit societies.

In spite of her illness, Jacqui dedicated the last 12 months of her life to founding an organisation aimed at encouraging women to attend football games. Set up in January 2017, Women at the Game works to enable more women to go to sports events by creating a safe and friendly environment at the game. The initiative took off and non-league clubs across the country started hosting Women at the Game events, sometimes without Jacqui’s involvement.

Related: Jacqui Forster obituary

Altringham FC, Banbury United, Doncaster Rovers and Huddersfield Town Supporters Association were among those taking part. The project also reached the Champions League with Manchester City organising Women at the Game events for its female fans, arranging meals before the games and organising transport to the stadium to make women feel safe and enjoy the experience.

The Jacqui Forster Memorial Award aims to recognise women who dedicate their time to promoting the values and principles of the trust movement. Nominations for female volunteers are open until 20 July. They can be submitted by emailing [email protected], mentioning the name of the volunteers, the organisation and a statement on why they should win the award.

The award will by judged by a panel made up of people who knew Jacqui and her contribution to the movement; it will be presented by her husband, Pete Baker, on 28 July at the Supporters Direct AGM in London.

He said her work at SD was “close to her heart” and “she put a lot of passion into her job”.

“Although SD was a paid job she also put in so much of her time unpaid into her various roles across the road at Altrincham and also Women at the Game,” he added.

Robert Pepper, who was vice chair of SD for a number of years, has also set up an account for donations in Jacqui’s memory, which will be used to support the award (BACS 07-01-16; 06272634).

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