Fleetwood Town Football Club President Jim Betmead was honoured with an MBE at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday afternoon.
He was recognised for reforming Fleetwood Town Football Club as well as his outstanding work in the local community.
It’s another accolade in the Club’s recent success, and one which Betmead will treasure for the rest of his life.
In an interview with the Club website, he said: “I received my MBE at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday afternoon for recognition of my work in the local community. It was partly to do with me reforming Fleetwood Town Football Club but also with my work at DWP in the town centre.
“The experience was absolutely amazing. When you’re a kid and your parents take you to Buckingham Palace you look through the gates, but to be allowed in and go through to the main ballroom where a number of famous functions have taken place through the years is surreal.
“It was an honour that took me by surprise but one I carry with pride now. It’s difficult to put into words really when you’ve got three letters after your name now, but it’s fantastic.
“I’m very proud and my family are too, but it’s another nice accolade for the Club as well. And although I’m the lucky recipient of this honour, it is also for the people of Fleetwood and the supporters of the Club.
“We are all living the dream at this Club and I thank Andy Pilley for everything he has done.”
More about Jim Betmead MBE – A Big Part of the History of FTFC
I’m a member of the Business Club at Fleetwood Town FC, and at recent meeting Jim Betmead MBE, had been invited along to share his story with us.
It’s the first time I’ve met him and the thing that quickly struck me was what a lovely bloke: full of enthusiasm and va-va-voom – I can see why a) he revived the club and set it on its present course and b) why he’d been awarded an MBE.
Jim Betmead MBE, President of Fleetwood Town FC
Jim’s love affair with Fleetwood started when he was 17 and started playing for the club. That went on until he was 32 and then, as footballers do, he found another career as an electrical technician at ICI when they were the big name at what is now Hillhouse at Thornton.
When ICI started their long decline which eventually saw them leave the Fylde Coast, Jim and his wife didn’t want to take the relocation package, preferring instead the severance package which enabled him to stay here in Fleetwood – you can understand why. But that left him with a problem – what to do next. After a look around he finally decided what he wanted to do.
Fleetwood Town FC was in one of its periods of closure at the time, but that didn’t stop Jim, who went home one day and said to his wife ‘I’m going to have a crack at Fleetwood Town. I’m going to see if I can get it going again’. A tolerant and understanding wife she must be – because that’s just what he did next. A public meeting at Highbury Club attracted over 200 people – and it was thanks to an ICI colleague that he’d analysed what the future might bring, so that the gathered crowd could discuss what might be done, and where the benefits and challenges would lie. So off he went.
I can’t imagine that it was easy, because these things never are. I would also imagine that he gave himself many a headache from banging his head on a wall at trying to negotiate leases and the like, in order to secure the use of Highbury – which at the time was unused and i=under threat of becoming a housing estate.
Phil Brown, now Vice Chairman, was one of the first contacts he made, and together they, and numerous others, have worked tirelessly from the start to set the club on the path it now follows. Jim says “getting into the NW Counties 2nd division and then going on to win that division was a big highlight.”
Andy Pilley then came along and the club entered a new era. I’d taken it as far as I could, but with Andy’s backing and investment it’s entered a whole new level. Jim adds “For me the biggest achievement was coming through the pyramid and winning the Conference League. What a feeling that was, and to get to Wembley was unbelievable.”
Jim summed up what makes Fleetwood Town so special, and why it’s managed to come so far so quickly in recent years, he says “On the field and off the field the club have got everything right. All the staff, players, management team – everyone wants the same thing – to keep going forward and to be successful. Everyone has got the same ideals and it’s a great atmosphere that makes for a well run and solid club, so long may it continue.” He went on to add that for a town with a community built on a fishing industry which has declined significantly, the club has given the town its community pride back – and it also employs about 400 people thanks to the business interests of Andy Pilley.
So how did the MBE come about? Well after spearheading the club for five years, Jim joined DWP and ended up at Fleetwood Job Centre, where his new boss was a woman called Helen Crosier. When she heard about Jim’s success at Fleetwood Town and what he’d done, she got together with his old mate Phil Brown and between them they nominated Jim for the MBE, completing the paperwork and collecting all the endorsements required for the successful nomination.
So Jim is the man after whom Jim’s Bar is named, he’s got his MBE, and he’s President of Fleetwood Town Football Club – now mid table in League One of English Football after a meteoric rise through the ranks. As Jim says “life doesn’t get much better than this”. Well done Jim Betmead – you deserve it.
You can find out much more about Fleetwood Town Football Club here