We are delighted to hear that Royals supporter and STAR stalwart Paula Martin was the recipient of the inaugural Supporters Direct Jacqui Forster Memorial Award.
Jacqui Forster was an ardent Altrincham fan who joined the Supporters Direct in 2003 and subsequently helped supporters find their voice across the country by being involved in the development of every one of the 200 supporters trusts across the country.
Jacqui sadly passed away after a long and courageous fight against cancer earlier this year, but this annual award was established and designed to celebrate and recognise women like her - women who give their spare time to promote the values and principles of the trust movement.
Paula's dedication to our club and the Supporters' Trust At Reading shone through amonst a really high calibre of nominations that also included Christine Seddon (Blackpool Supporters' Trust), Elaine Dean (Rams Trust), Emily Broome (Huddersfield Town Supporters' Association), Pauline O'Rourke (Blackpool Supporters' Trust), Nicola Hudson (Supporters Direct) and Vicki England (1874 Northwich).
Paula's nomination read...
In the 16 years since then she has been one of the small number of people who has worked tirelessly to make the organisation a success.
Paula spent five years as Vice-Chair of STAR and followed this with a period of the same length as Chair – which coincided with Reading’s most successful time ever on the pitch under the stewardship of Steve Coppell, and she helped seize the initiative to make STAR one of the most visible, innovative and effective trusts at the time.
She has always been diplomatic and measured when meeting supporters and club officials, and her professionalism and credibility played a major part in STAR being invited to regular meetings with the football club’s Senior Management Team from 2004 onwards, something which was a quantum leap improvement in improving communications between club, trust and supporters.
But it’s too simplistic to label her as “past-chairman, current membership secretary” – she is, quite simply, someone who has given immeasurable hours of her time to STAR, often without thanks and in the face of supporter criticism, and without whom the Trust would not have been successful and might not, now, even exist.
She epitomises volunteers across the Trust movement who give up their time freely and without complaint in the cause of something that they, like Paula, believe in passionately – supporter involvement in how their football club is run.