We are delighted to announce that the recipient of this year’s Visitor Ambassador Award is the manager of Morecambe Football Club, Jim Bentley.
Every year we give this award to somebody who has helped put Morecambe on the map, representing the town positively both in the local area and further afield.
Previous winners have included TV personality Paul Hayes, motorbike ace John McGuinness and even the great Eric Morecambe himself.
This year, we could think of nobody more fitting than the man who has given Morecambe FC 15 years of devoted service.
“It’s been well documented that this has been a difficult time for Morecambe Football Club,” said Chris Daggett, Visitor editor.
“But during this time of crisis, our admiration has grown for the job being done by Jim Bentley, his staff and the team. Jim has performed miracles by getting results on the pitch and keeping morale high despite worries over delayed wages and the future of the club.
“And throughout the whole process, he has been a positive and dignified presence, conducting himself as a true leader. He has been a credit not only to the club but the town itself.”
A lifelong Everton fan, Jim began his professional football career as a player at Telford United.
A tough and uncompromising central defender with great leadership skills, the Merseysider signed for Morecambe in 2002.
During a nine-year playing career, much of it as captain, he made 298 appearances, scoring 29 goals.
His proudest moment came when he captained the team to victory over Exeter City at Wembley in May 2007 – securing promotion for Morecambe to the Football League for the first time ever.
After a spell as player-coach, Jim replaced Sammy McIlroy as manager in 2011.
Since then Jim has worked tirelessly to keep Morecambe in the Football League on meagre resources.
Bentley is an iconic figure at the Globe Arena and is loved by Shrimps fans.
This high esteem was shown in January 2017 when, after he was fined by the Football Association over a disciplinary matter, supporters clubbed together to cover the £1,000 penalty for him.
We are delighted that Jim will attend the Sunshine Awards and Gala Dinner at the Midland hotel in Morecambe on May 12 to receive his award.
Tickets are now on sale for the ball and cost £49. The Sunshine Awards and Gala Dinner, sponsored by Wright and Lord, includes a three-course meal, drinks reception sponsored by The Carpetman and live music, and starts at 7pm.
To book please call 01253 361844.