FORMER Echo sports editor Howard Southwood has just been awarded the highest accolade Rochford Hundred can give – honorary life membership – for services to the golf club.

Southwood, 71, was proposed for the honour by outgoing captain Barry Finch, supported by ex-lady captain Jo Rumsey, and unanimously backed by members at the club’s recent annual meeting.

He has been a member for about 40 years and as well as being made club captain in 2002 has served on the committee, where he did a number of different jobs.

Southwood has run club competitions, been chairman of the greens committee, was also cadet master for a number of years plus acting as press officer.

He said: “I was totally gobsmacked when told I was being put forward for this tremendous honour – there are only a handful of people ever given this distinction.

“It’s quite humbling and was certainly emotional on the night.

“I feel a bit of a fraud because the club has given me so much pleasure. As well as playing golf I have made a number of very good friends – the club has played an important part in my life.

“Doing the various jobs was never a problem but, at the risk of sounding corny, was only a small way to give something back to the club for all the pleasure it has given me.”

Southwood reckons that, apart from his time as captain, the most fulfilling job was his time running the cadet section.

“I was fortunate in that I took over a section which had been well set up under Keith Mitchell and worked with a very pro-active cadet committee,” he said.

“It was great to see the youngsters develop not only as golfers but as rounded people as well – learning the way to behave on the golf course is as important as getting your handicap down. Playing golf gives young people certain standards which they hopefully take into adult life.

“Six of the boys we had under us later became professional golfers and many have represented the club in top county competitions at youth and adult level.

“Getting the honour was a very proud moment for me personally but it has been a real pleasure to try to serve this great club and to also try to uphold the tradiions of its marvelous history.”