Olympic gymnast hopes MBE will inspire others ‘to be the best that they can’

Olympic gymnast hopes MBE will inspire others ‘to be the best that they can’
Kathy Williams received the honour at Buckingham Palace (Aaron Chown/PA)
PA Wire/PA Images - Aaron Chown

The first black gymnast to represent Britain at the Olympic Games has said she hopes being honoured at Buckingham Palace will inspire others “to be the best that they can be”.

Kathy Williams, 59, said it was “such an honour and privilege” to be made an MBE at an investiture ceremony on Friday for her services to dance.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Ms Williams said being chosen to represent Great Britain at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles was a “momentous occasion”.

“At that age, I didn’t realise that I was the first black gymnast – for me it was about the achievement of being selected for the Great Britain team and to represent Great Britain at the Los Angeles Olympic Games,” she said.

Kathy Williams with her medalKathy Williams was honoured for her services to dance (Aaron Chown/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Aaron Chown

She represented Great Britain in multiple gymnastic events at the 1984 Olympics, having missed out four years earlier in Moscow due to injury.

Ms Williams said on missing out on the 1980 Games: “I was gutted but so motivated – there was no way I was going to be sat on my mum’s armchair watching the 1984 Olympics.”

She added that it was “wonderful” to meet the Princess Royal for the second time – having previously met her after the 1984 Olympics.

“We were having a little chuckle because she was saying I hadn’t got as many creases as she had.”

The director of the RJC Dance organisation in Leeds said she hoped the award would inspire young people and “anyone who wants to really aspire to be the best that they can be”.

Ms Williams added that it was “great to see” gymnastics become more inclusive over time and said the young people participating at RJC Dance were “representative of society and the diversity of this country”.

Detective Superintendent Neil PudneyDetective Superintendent Neil Pudney after being decorated with the King’s Police Medal (Aaron Chown/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Aaron Chown

Another recipient of honours at Buckingham Palace on Friday was Detective Superintendent Neil Pudney, who received the King’s Police Medal.

Mr Pudney, who works for Essex Police, told PA that it was a “huge honour” to receive the medal for his services to policing and for supporting victims of serious crimes such as rape and sexual assault.

The detective, who has served for more than 29 years in the police, said it was vital to “capture victims’ voices and to listen to them” because “every victim is different with different needs”.

He said: “In Essex we are very much focused on listening to the victim and then delivering the right outcome for them, which is so important.”

He said he had been inspired to begin a career in policing after members of his own family had been victims of crime.

“My grandfather was knocked down and killed by a dangerous driver just a couple of days after my 18th birthday – the support we received from the police was amazing and it made me feel that it was the kind of career I wanted to embark on,” he said.

Mr Pudney said it was “fantastic” to meet the Princess Royal, who presented him with his medal, and that it was a “very proud day” for his entire family.

The Conversation (0)