A female referee from Eye is hoping she can act as an inspiration to aspiring officials after scooping a national award.
Mary Harmer won the Match Official Award category at the recent Women in Football Awards and Seasonal Celebration.
Nearly 100 guests representing a number of different organisations in football were present at BBC New Broadcasting House in London on Tuesday, November 6, to see Harmer collect the award.
The 22-year-old, who is Suffolk FA’s referee development officer, had been shortlisted alongside fellow referees Lisa Rashid and Lucy Oliver.
It caps an impressive year for Harmer after she returned from her first international assignment last month, having taken on the role as one of the assistant referees at the UEFA Women’s Under-17 Championship, hosted in Portugal.
“I was very surprised to win,” she conceded.
“The other nominated referees are FA Cup Final Officials and have achieved the pinnacle of what all officials aim to aspire to.
“I have been overwhelmed by the number of kind messages I have received, although winning the award still hasn’t quite sunk in.
“It’s been a great year both on and off the field and receiving the award allows me to reflect on an exciting 2016. However, the hard work never stops.
“I hope that the current journey I am on as a referee can inspire other young referees to achieve all their goals, no matter how big they are.
“The award has inspired me to work even harder and I am excited to see what the rest of the season and 2017 will bring.
“I am very lucky for the opportunities I have had this year.”
Some big names claimed the other awards on the evening, including: Chelsea FC club doctor Eva Carneiro (Woman of the Year), Lucy Bronze (Player of the Year), Kelly Chambers (Coach of the Year), Lucy Oliver (Inspiration Award), Amy Lawrence (Journalist of the Year), the late Sylvia Gore MBE (Lifetime achievement), Scotland Women (Team of the Year), Leicester City CEO Susan Whelan (Club Best Practice of the Year).
BBC TV sports presenter Jacqui Oatley was the MC for the event, while guest speaker was Sophie Cook, a transgender photographer for AFC Bournemouth who shared her story with those in attendance.