Denise Lewis among the athletics community recognised in New Year’s Honours List

Inspirational colleagues across the athletics community are among those recognised in the 2023 New Year’s Honours list.

Former Olympic heptathlon champion and Commonwealth Games England president Denise Lewis is made a dame for services to sport.

Denise said, “I can’t even process it, but I haven’t stopped smiling since I heard the news.”

“It’s an incredible honour. I’m just trying to take it in and its enormity. I recognise that I’m one of very few women in athletics that have received a damehood. I’m just so proud and incredibly beside myself.”

Athletics coach and former two-time Commonwealth Games triple jump bronze medallist Aston Moore who, like Denise, is a member of the England Athletics Hall of Fame has received an MBE. Aston added more success to his incredible CV this summer when he coached Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Naomi Metzger to Commonwealth Games heptathlon gold and triple jump bronze, respectively. He said,

“I, like most coaches, began my journey without thought of reward in supporting athletes to fulfill their physical potential. I am, therefore, humbled and completely blown away to have been awarded an MBE for something I so dearly love.”

Elsewhere, three technical officials have been recognised for their outstanding contributions to the sport.

There’s an MBE for long-time volunteer Peter Crawshaw, previously Chair of London Regional Council and who just this year stepped down from the England Athletics Board having served his eight years of dedicated service as a director.

“Athletics has been a huge part of my life for over 50 years: it has been a privilege to have been able to serve the sport in a number of different ways. Our sport relies more than many on the work of volunteers and I see so many people on a regular basis who deserve to be recognised. I’m hugely delighted and honoured to have been nominated and grateful for the messages that I have received in the past few days.”

Wendy Haxell, now retired from officiating at the highest level, has been appointed an OBE for Services to to Athletics and to the community in Hampshire. She told us,

“One of the nicest things about this award is the congratulatory response by fellow officials across the country. I hope that during my 50 years of officiating I have encouraged others to develop their skills along their own pathways. I will remind you all that when asked to do something never say no, always make it a yes.”

Sian Thomas, who we spoke to recently on the subject of inclusion (following her experiences of returning to officiating after serious and continued health issues), has received an MBE for Public Service (in her role as Chief Data Officer, Department for International Trade).

“I was more than shocked to receive a nomination for an MBE for Public Service. Those things happen to other people – not for people like me. I am not really that amazing; just get up, do the best I can, repeat. I have been a Civil Servant for more than 20 years. I have worked with some fabulous folk professionally, fellow officials and volunteers – and been proud of what I have achieved.”

“2022 was a terrible year, and while this doesn’t make up for all of that, it does give me hope that every day of hard work done does actually get noticed – thank you to whoever nominated me, for noticing. And whenever the going gets tough I will be thankful for the people who notice and be more like them.”

Denise Lewis is one of a number of people responsible for delivering last summer’s hugely successful Commonwealth Games in Birmingham who have been recognised. Chair of the Organising Committee John Crabtree has become a knight, chief executive Ian Reid appointed a CBE, and there was a BEM for the Executive Assistant to the Birmingham 2022 CEO (and who had worked at UKA for 16 years previously) Sarah Coffey.

Denise and Aston photos by Mark Shearman
Peter and Wendy photos by Nicola Evans