A PGA Professional who has helped raise more than £3 million for charity has won the Toby Sunderland award. John Reay, 63, picked up his accolade on the eve of the Open Championship at St Andrews during the annual PGA reception.
The Stoneleigh Golf Club and John Reay Golf Centre owner has ploughed his efforts into supporting numerous charities including Fight For Sight which has benefited to the tune of £305,000.
Perhaps the charity closest to his heart is the Great Ormond Street Hospital which helped his son Johnny born with Apert’s Syndrome which is a genetic defect leading to anomalies in the hands, feet and cranium.
The Midland pro received a cheque for £1,200 for winning the award which he will give to the hospital.
“We’ve seen at first hand the fantastic work that Great Ormond Street Hospital does having supported him for 15 years,” he said. “He’s had countless operations which will stand him in good stead for the future and the support and care of the doctors and nurses is something we’ll never forget.”
Each year he turns his attentions to the nominated charity of the Stoneleigh Golf Club captain and charities helped include Helen Ley, Warwick Museum, TNT/Wooden Spoon, Coventry Building Society, SSAFA, NSPCC, Coventry Rugby Club Foundation, Leamington Spa Rotary, CCFPA, EEIBA and Coventry Homes.
Modest Reay admitted he was surprised to receive the honour which is presented annually to a PGA Professional for an outstanding charitable effort.
“I’m a bit surprised because I just get on with it rather than blowing my own trumpet,” he said. “It’s not just me but there a lot of people involved in helping to raise money.”
Reay left school at 14 to become an assistant to Mike Skerritt at Atherstone Golf Club and then Nuneaton. He opened the hugely successful John Reay Golf Centre at just 21 and he and his wife, Cherry, own and run Stoneleigh Deer Park.
“Like everyone I wanted to be a tour player and I competed at under 21s against the likes of Bernard Gallacher, Jack Newton and Peter Oosterhuis – and I remember how good they were. I preferred to earn money every week so concentrated on being a club pro. I enjoy the job, the people, the way of life and just the feel of golf. I would recommend it as a career to anyone.”
Warren Sunderland, whose father created the award 20 years ago, commented: “Many PGA pros work unstintingly helping fundraise for charities and I would like to congratulate John for his magnificent efforts in helping so many different charities. I would also echo those sentiments to all the regional winners. Their efforts make a huge difference.”
Also receiving awards, and £250 for their chosen charities, were Ireland’s Roy Skillen for the Mary Peters Trust, Scotland’s Muriel Thomson (Little Drops Charity Trust), Anthony Howarth from the north region (Bridlington Lifeboat), Alan Fletcher from the east region (The British Heart Foundation) and James Harraway from the west (SARCOMA UK).
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