A dedicated volunteer at Ilkeston Town FC has won the experience of a lifetime for his trailblazing volunteering efforts.

Mark Frost, 50, was humbled to learn he had been named Pitching In Volunteer of the Season for his longstanding commitment to the Derbyshire side after being nominated by other members.

The prize will see Frost travel to Dublin for the UEFA Europa League Final in Dublin, with flights, two nights’ accommodation, a training session with legendary football ambassadors Robert Pires and Diego Forlan, along with the opportunity to play on the pitch in a wholly unique experience.

"It started hitting home for me when the league rang up and said I’d won the award," Frost said.

"There were 19 nominations from the Northern Premier League, but so many from the Southern and Isthmian League, but they said they recognised what an amazing job I do at Ilkeston.

"To be told that my name was put forward as one of the first of the three that they put forward before another panel - these are people I really respect. They are my peers in football. Great footballing people. It was a really humbling experience.

"I am not in football for praise and plaudits and prizes. I am here for football.

"Football is a team game and I am just a team player. This reward is recognising every volunteer in our football club. This award is for them."

Pitching In, Entain's grassroots sport Investment programme and sponsor of the Trident Leagues, launched the award to celebrate the thousands of volunteers across the country who dedicate their time to supporting grassroots and non-elite football.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of community football, helping with everything from matchday activities such as manning the turnstiles, stewarding, and catering, to pitch maintenance, ground upkeep or providing administrative and professional support.

Pitching In created the Volunteer Hub to help connect clubs looking for volunteers and fans looking for opportunities to do more – and are now saying thank you to an individual from each of the Trident Leagues and award them with a prize of a lifetime.

As part of the prize, Frost will take to the Dublin Stadium pitch the day after the final between Atalanta and Bayer Leverkusen, lining up alongside footballing greats Robert Pires and Diego Forlan.

Frost's journey with Ilkeston Town started 12 years ago.

After his son, Matthew, who was born with a heart defect and lost a leg after a post-operative infection resulted in a heart attack and stroke, Frost stopped work to care for his son full-time.

After taking his youngest son, Richard, to Ilkeston Town to play Mini Robins, Frost was asked to become involved with the club's youth section and kick-started a varied volunteering career.

Using his training as a chartered accountant, Frost helped steady a football club at the heart of its community through a tumultuous period. 

Serving over 400 children in the local area on a weekly basis, Frost has done everything from dressing up as Father Christmas to marking out the pitches.

Even when being recognised for his colossal volunteering efforts as the heartbeat of the New Manor Ground, the Ilkeston-native is keen to recognise the efforts of the others giving up their time to the Robins.

"It just means the absolute world to me," Frost said. "When I started to read the itinerary, what this prize actually entails, from going to watch the Europa League Final, meeting the players, to having VIP tickets and be involved in a legends game, it is an absolute dream come true. 

"But this award is for everyone in this football club that gives their time up for that one common love.

"My town and my community means a lot to me. You remove this football club from its community and it has lost its spirit, its focus. Without football, this community dies a little bit."

Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/ and to find volunteering opportunities near you, see: pitchinginvolunteers.co.uk