28th December 2018


Athletics is well represented in the New Year’s Honours List 2019 which recognises the outstanding achievements of people across the United Kingdom.

Para Athletics Head Coach at UK Athletics, Paula Dunn has been awarded an MBE for her services to athletics. Lorna Boothe has been awarded an MBE for her services to Sports Coaching and administration while leading International Technical Official Roger Blades has also received the honour for his services to athletics and school sport.

BEMs (British Empire Medals) – awarded for a ‘hands-on’ service to the local community – have been awarded to Paralympian Sophia Warner, John Messum, Mairi Levack and William Russell for coaching, while five-time Olympian Christopher Maddocks – also the British 50km race walk record holder – has been bestowed with the same honour.

Paula Dunn became the first female and BAME Para Athletics Head Coach in 2012 and since taking the post has led the British team to their highest ever medal tallies in the modern era at the Paralympic Games in 2016, World Para Athletics Championships in London, and the WPA European Championships.

One of six children, Dunn grew up in Manchester where she would begin her athletics career at the Trafford AC. Committing to her sprinting career alongside full-time work, Dunn became an Olympian in 1988 running the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in Seoul. She is a four-time Commonwealth medallist and a European bronze medallist.

She moved into coaching as her career as an athlete came to an end, conducting this alongside her job as a sports development officer in athletics and netball in the Manchester area. Dunn would later start working at UK Athletics in 2001, carrying out roles in the talent and para athletics programmes, before her appointment as Para Athletics Head Coach in 2012.

On her MBE, Dunn said: “Initially I was really surprised and quite shocked. But as the days have gone on, I’m just proud. I am because so many people have helped me to get to this position.

“It just gets you thinking about when I started in the sport and my expectations career-wise. It was never in my wildest dreams that I was receive an MBE, so it is amazing what you can do.”

Dunn took over from Peter Eriksson as British Para Athletics Head Coach in 2012 and has embarked on a memorable six years for the programme.

“When I took over as Head Coach at the end of 2012, I wanted to make sure we kept on moving forwards. It is easy to get complacent and think you have succeeded. I jumped right in and we have built upon that success. We have such a strong structure in place. The profile of the sport has risen so much so we are attracting athletes constantly. I am incredibly proud of the team and their progression over the years.”

On becoming the first female and BAME Para Athletics Head Coach at British Athletics in 2012, she added:

“It is always a watershed moment when you become the first of something. So, I was the first female Para Athletics Head Coach, and the first BAME Head Coach, so for people looking in, they can see this is a sport that provides opportunities. If you have the ability, the capability and the drive, you can achieve anything. I don’t particularly like to be called a role model because I still feel that I am learning but if people can see what I have achieved and that can motivate them, that is absolutely brilliant and exactly what I want to do.”

Lorna Boothe receives an MBE for her services to sports coaching and administration. A Commonwealth 100m hurdles gold medallist in 1978 and two-time Olympian, Boothe currently sits on the European Athletics Coaches’ Association and England Athletics regional councils and was also the lead speed coach for Team England at this year’s Commonwealth Games. She has worked as a team coach and manager on a several British and English teams during her career.

Roger Blades receives an MBE for his services to athletics and school sport, the latter in the Sheffield area. Blades is currently on the 2018-2021 list of Technical Officials (TOs) and Classifiers authorised by World Para Athletics. He was also Technical delegate at the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016.

Among those receiving a British Empire Medal is John Messum for services to athletics in Wales. Deeside-based Messum was recently awarded the Endurance Participation Coach of the Year at recent Welsh Athletics Awards 2018.

William Russell is chief coach at the Banchory and Stonehaven Athletic Club in Scotland and has received his BEM for his services to Athletics in North East Scotland. Mairi Levack, a coach at North Uist Amateur Athletics Club receives a BEM for services to Sport and Young People on the Islands of North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist.

Paralympian Sophia Warner has been awarded an BEM for voluntary service to disability sport. Warner won world and European medals during her career and competed at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

Finally, Christopher Maddocks, the retired 50km Race Walk British Record holder receives an BEM for his services to athletics. Maddocks is one of only a handful of athletes – alongside Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Ben Ainslie – to proudly call himself a five-time Olympian having competed in every Games from Los Angeles 1984 to Sydney 2000. His best placing was 16th in both Los Angeles and Barcelona.