Four representatives from the athletics and running community in England have been recognised for their outstanding contributions to the sport in this year’s New Year’s Honours List.
- Olympic athlete Donna Fraser, now leading UK Athletics’ Equality, Diversity and Engagement work, has become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to Equality, Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace. She told us,"I am absolutely over the moon to be recognised in the New Year’s Honours List for my equality, diversity and inclusion work at UKA. To be honest I am still in shock, but truly honoured and excited at the same time. I couldn’t have achieved this without the support from family, colleagues and my mentor Valerie Kohler. I dedicate the award to my parents, my sister Jenny and my late athletics coach Ayo Falola who were by my side on and off the track as I transitioned from athlete to the world of work. After such a challenging 2020, the news ended the year on a positive note and looking forward to continuing my ED&I work throughout 2021."
- Susan Deaves, a long-time servant to the sport across the country, is made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to athletics. She told England Athletics, "It is quite humbling to be included in the New Years Honours, but I have to admit that I am thrilled to bits! Whilst I have spent endless hours in committee and selection work at all levels over many years, my first thought has always been to help athletes. As a Marksman, I was aware of the vulnerable state of many athletes at that moment, and similarly as a Team Manager, was always so glad that I could directly benefit those under my care. The 'talking' meetings are a necessary part of making it all happen!”
Elsewhere, two contributors to grass roots athletics and much more are also recognised for services to athletics and the community in the North West of England, by becoming Medallists of the Order of the British Empire (BEM);
- Peter Warden (Preston Harriers) - 1964 Olympian and Commonwealth Games medallist then started coaching in 1968, and has coached hundreds of club and international athletes. "It feels absolutely incredible to have my name put forward for such a prestigious thing, I just wish my dad was here to see this, he would have been so proud. It really is a great honour. I received both the NW region and the national England Athletics volunteer awards last year for my coaching and this just the icing on the cake. It is humbling to have been recognised by people outside athletics. I didn't expect any of this, I get all the satisfaction I need from coaching athletes whether it is grass roots or Olympic level, it is an honour to be a part of their journey."
- Graham Wright counts being Chair of Rossendale Harriers as one of his many roles in the sport. Graham told us, "It’s been quite an emotional day but I celebrated by going out for a run myself. It’s been great to be able to put back some of my knowledge gained over many years into the sport and into Rossendale Harriers.
Here's a little more about each of our grassroots winners.
In the last 65 years Susan Deaves has been heavily involved in Track & Field, originally in the WAAA as Assistant Secretary. Administration and management of the Southern teams was also in her remit for some 20 years. As a technical official, for many years she was the only top level woman marksman and worked to International level, lastly at Manchester 2002. She saw through the amalgamation of the men’s and women’s associations, assisting in writing numerous Constitutions, and in setting up the British Athletics Federation. Susan was involved in Track and Field selection at both England and GB level; and was part of the women's team management at 3 Commonwealth Games. Susan is Chairman of Southern T&F and a Director of AAA. Having been President of the Southern Women and Southern Joint Association, for the past 30 years she have been an active and involved President of Woking AC.
Susan is held in high esteem by her officiating colleagues. Her athletics friends have already commented on social media; Maureen Fletcher said, "Very few people know how much Susan has done and still does for athletics. A well deserved award." Lesley Baulk added, "A fantastic lady and has done very well for Woking AC. It is behind the scenes that the public do not see. I salute her." England Athletics West Midlands regional council chair said, "It's good to see a marksman/ starter's assistant being recognised in the New Years honours. Well done Susan."
In 1967, at age 17, Graham Wright was a founder member of Rossendale Harriers and has served on the Club committee in various roles ever since, in the role of Club Chairman for the past 25 years. Being a keen fell runner, he has organised several fell races on behalf of the club including the Whittle Pike fell race which has been a British Championship fell race on 3 occasions. As the Lancashire Athletic Association Fellrunning Secretary he was involved in selecting and managing Senior and Junior county teams for the Intercounties Fellrunning Championships.
A qualified coach for more than 25 years, he organises club Junior Coaching (many of whom have attained County vests in both Cross Country and Fellrunning, and attained their Duke of Edinburh's award with his support) and mentors other coaches. 11 years coaching Matty Mackay resulted in him winning the International Youth cup mountain race in Italy, the teenager has competed on several occasions for both England and Great Britain finishing in 4 in the European Junior Mountain running Championships in Zermatt in 2019 helping the British team to Gold medals.
Peter Warden (Preston Harriers) was the recipient of the England Athletics Services to Athletics award in 2019. He started athletics at the age of 7. As an athlete he won countless County Championships, Northern titles and National medals, He represented Great Britain at the 1964 Olympics and the 1966 Commonwealth Games. Peter started coaching in 1968, and has coached many athletes; over 20 international athletes and hundreds of club athletes.
Peter's passion and knowledge of the sport has spanned decades, supporting so many athletes over the years, and the respect and love the athletes have for him is incredible. He has coached non disabled and disabled athletes, most recently teaching an amputee to run on his first blade. In his late 70s, he is still involved in athletics and coaching athletes at Preston Harriers; a truly talented and inspirational man who shows no sign of stopping.