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Referee Amy Fearn has been recognised in The King’s Birthday Honours List.

The trailblazing official has received the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), which is awarded for an outstanding achievement or service to the community.

Fearn was awarded the honour for her services to football, which spans over 30 years and has seen her break ground every step of the way.

“It’s all a little bit surreal but all very nice at the same time,” she said. “I got a letter through the post about a month ago to say that I had been nominated and would I like to accept it. My initial reaction was who was winding me up?

“The letter was totally out of the blue. When you make the phone call to confirm everything, I asked who it was that had nominated me but they said they couldn’t tell me. For someone to take the time to nominate me and go to this much effort is very nice and touching.”

Having started officiating at the age of 14, Fearn went on to become the first woman to referee in the Football League and men’s FA Cup first round in 2010 and 2013 respectively.

As well as her longevity in the game as an elite match official, her other achievements include leading the teams out as referee in two Women’s FA Cup finals, firstly in 2004 when she took charge of Arsenal v Charlton Athletic at Loftus Road.

Eleven years later, this was followed by Fearn being chosen as the referee for the first Women’s FA Cup Final to be held at the new Wembley between Chelsea and Notts County.

Fearn’s qualities weren’t limited just to the domestic stage though as she enjoyed a sustained spell on the FIFA List of Match Officials from 2002, both as an assistant referee and a referee. “I had no grey hairs then!” quipped Amy.

She follows in the footsteps of fellow PGMOL colleagues chief refereeing officer Howard Webb and Premier League assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis in receiving an MBE – an illustrious list she is very proud to join.

“Even to have your name alongside Howard and Sian is great so it’s just a real honour. In the past, I’ve always said it’s nice to be part of Sian’s story because a little bit of me inspired her to carry on refereeing or start refereeing, so to now be part of that list still hasn’t sunk in really.”

Fearn says this moment is “right up there” in terms of achievements in her life alongside having her kids and marrying her husband, who she says “hasn’t given her a choice not to take him” when she receives her medal. “I can take two other people so my mum and brother will likely come with him… I’m sure I won’t have a problem filling the spots!”

The mum of three continues to be a role model for many, regularly taking charge of fixtures in the Barclays Women’s Super League, and she’s enthused for the next generation due to the vast opportunities now available within refereeing.

She said: “I think the possibilities around refereeing are endless for everyone – people can enjoy a career now, it’s not just a hobby which it was when I started out. That is something that will continue to make an improvement to the game.

“Just try refereeing, you will get bitten by the bug. As you go through your career, celebrate the successes because sometimes you go through one game or one challenge and then quickly move on to what’s the next challenge. To just take that time to pause and reflect on what you have done on that day is pretty amazing.”

Congratulations, Amy Fearn MBE.

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