MATT Hancock is leaving Burton Albion Community Trust to take up a new role as Community Director at Port Vale.

Matt joined the trust in January 2012 as Community Team Leader and took over as Head of Community in 2017.

He has led the trust through a period of great growth and increasing impact and has seen the charity step up and deliver a widely-praised pandemic response.

Matt said: “It has been the hardest decision I have ever made. I’ve grown up through Burton Albion. I have got married, had three children and learnt so much. Not once has it ever felt like coming into work, it’s just part of my life. That’s because of the unbelievable staff, programmes, and everything that surrounds Burton Albion.

“There were only six of us when I joined and over 11 years the club has been tremendously successful and that has helped off the pitch as well.

“I’m really proud of what we have done, and we are seen as a model of best practice.

“I want to thank retiring BACT Chairman John Jackson and Burton Albion Chairman Ben Robinson for all their invaluable support.”

Matt will take up his new role in January.

“I’m a Stoke lad and it’s a chance to work and make a difference in my home community.

“Port Vale is a club that has very different challenges to East Staffordshire and Burton. There’s a great potential to have an impact on the fanbase and the area on a very big scale. I have loved being involved in the wider club roles at Burton Albion and at Port Vale it gives me real club responsibility but coupled with my passion for community.

“It gives me an opportunity to really grow something again, whereas Burton Albion Community Trust is in a very strong position, having grown dramatically and has a great structure and amazing people already in place.

“The decision has been hard and I’m going to miss greatly all the people connected with the trust and club. BACT is right at the heart of the community and has fabulous sustainable work and it’s ready for someone else to come in.

“Change is always scary but I’m ready for another challenge and the trust will benefit from me moving on and the change that brings. I think it will be a new and exciting chapter for both me and the trust.

“I will be watching on keenly and hopefully will be back from time to time and Burton Albion will be part of me forever.”

Burton Albion Chairman Ben Robinson said: “We are very sorry to see Matt go as he has played an important part in the Burton Albion Community Trust’s success and growth over the last 11 years. We thank him for all his hard work and for all he has achieved but we understand that people are ambitious and move on and we wish Matt every success in his new role.

“Matt leaves a brilliant management structure in place that will ensure the great work continues at the same high level.

“We will now start the recruitment process to find a new Head of Community with a fresh vision that will lead the trust into a new era.”

BACT Chairman Phil Pusey said: “Matt had a tough act to follow in Andy Taylor and gave us an initial period of stability and then a period of great growth in the last two years, especially on the health side. He played a massive part in our pandemic response, and he has done an incredible job for the trust but we are delighted for him personally that he is going on to something he’s passionate about.

“We are now looking for a replacement who can ensure we stay right at the top of the community trust tree. We need someone who gets our values and understands Burton Albion’s place at the heart of the community. It’s a plum job to come to and we expect a very high calibre of applicants because opportunities like this don’t come up very often.”