MANCHESTER United defender Chris Smalling joined members of a community centre as they celebrated their relocation to a new home.

The centre-back was also the star guest at a special awards ceremony to honour dozens of young people who have undertaken expeditions with The Duke of Edinburgh Award Centre in Timperley.

More than 250 people gathered at Christ Church Timperley as young people aged 14 to 25 were presented with their bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Prior to the service, Chris Smalling visited Altrincham Kersal Rugby Football Club (AKRFC) to present the club chairman Tim Marston with a plaque to mark the relocation of the centre to the club’s premises in Stelfox Avenue.

"As a forward thinking club at the heart of the community we are delighted to welcome the DofE Centre to AKRFC", Mr Marston said.

"The Award aligns perfectly with our values as a club to encourage respect, friendship, commitment and teamwork."

More than 100 awards were presented to the young people by Chris Smalling, who also spoke with the audience about his professional football career.

Drawing on his own experience as a young player he described the determination required to juggle football training with academic study. Smalling complemented the award holders on their work in the community and said “I want to be a good person not just a good footballer."

It is the third record-breaking year for the centre which was set up at the church in 2015 and has now grown to more than 160 members.

Andy Allan, centre manager, said: "We are tremendously proud of the achievements of our members, and its great to see our first cohort of eleven Gold Award holders.

"It’s been a busy year for us setting up as an independent charity.

"I’d like to thank Rev Jim Bridgman and the Parish Council for having the foresight to set up an open access centre. "We will continue to have strong links with the church and our new home at AKRFC will provide the capacity to offer more places."

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