Great Britain and England captain Kate Richardson-Walsh MBE and ex-international player, coach and performance analyst Maggie Souyave OBE have both been named in the New Year Honours list in recognition of their services to hockey. Also honoured are Rugby Vice Captain Sarah Hunter and Rochelle (Rocky) Clark who are awarded MBEs in recognition of their services to rugby.
England and Great Britain Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh made her international debut back in 1999 when Maggie Souyave was Head Coach and has since made over 330 appearances for her country, captaining her side since 2003. London 2012 was the Mancunian’s third Olympics and Glasgow 2014 marked her fourth Commonwealth Games, where she was also selected to be Team England’s flag bearer for the closing ceremony. Across a 15 year career Richardson-Walsh has won European, World, Commonwealth and Olympic medals with perhaps the highlight of these being a bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games and more recently a silver during the summer when England came agonisingly close to claiming gold, but lost out to Australia in the final seven seconds in the Commonwealth Games Final.
Richardson-Walsh has recently taken a sabbatical away from hockey, but will be back in full-time training from January as Great Britain begin preparations for the Olympic Qualifying tournament [World League Semi Final] in June.
Speaking about the MBE Richardson-Walsh said: “It’s so hard to sum up in words, but I feel really proud and just so lucky to be able to do the job I do. I want to do it for as long as I can. I’ve had so many lovely messages from teammates past and present, friends and family; I could never have achieved any of this without their support. I feel so privileged to be part of the ever growing hockey family, this sport is so special because of all the volunteers who give up their time to inspire people like me to pick up a stick. I’d also like to thank UK Spot and the lottery and everyone who buys a ticket each week to support so many athletes to do the jobs we do.”
On receiving an MBE alongside Maggie Souyave OBE, Richardson-Walsh added: “Maggie taught me pretty much everything I needed to know about being the best I could be. She started it all off for me when I was 15 playing at Bowdon Hightown and then giving me my first England cap in 1999. She’s had such an incredible career in this sport and certainly helped me to understand what it would take to stay at the top of my game. If I can achieve a tiny bit of what Maggie has achieved across the 40 years she’s been involved in the sport then I will be very proud.”
Source: Ady Kerry / England Hockey
Maggie Souyave OBE played her first international match in 1974 and went on to represent Great Britain and England 120 times, winning a gold medal in the World Cup in 1975 as a player and gold again in the European Indoor Championships as coach in 1996. Alongside a fantastic international career Souyave taught PE at Queen Mary’s School [Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire] and Merchant Taylors’ School [Crosby, Liverpool] for 20 years. After retiring from teaching in 1995 she took up the post of Director of Player Performance at England Hockey and then became women’s head coach from 1996-2000 during which time she selected Kate Richardson-Walsh to make her international debut. Following a successful spell as coach, where her side claimed silver at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, Souyave turned her hand to performance analysis, a position which she held for 14 years until she retired earlier this year after watching Richardson-Walsh captain her side to another silver medal at Glasgow 2014. With a career that stretched over 40 years at school, club and national levels Souyave has been awarded an OBE in recognition for her services to hockey.
Speaking about the OBE Souyave said: ”I’ve had a really great morning with my friends and family who put on a celebration breakfast for me. It’s such an honour to be awarded an OBE, and to receive it alongside Kate’s MBE feels really significant and is quite emotional for me. I gave Kate her first cap back in 1999 and I’ve been so proud to watch her grow into the person and athlete she’s become. Across my 40 years in hockey I’ve worked with so many colleagues and great friends along the way who have helped me enjoy a fabulous career in a sport which has been my life I suppose in many ways since I was about 11. I’m immensely proud to have been a part of the hockey family and the reason I’ve had such longevity is because of the number of friends I’ve made and the amount of support I’ve had. If I had to pick out a couple of career highlights I would say captaining England both indoors and outdoors and introducing the Queen to the team in front of a packed crowd at Wembley; those are moments I’ll always remember.”
Great Britain and England Performance Director and Women’s Head Coach Danny Kerry said: “This is richly deserved recognition for all that Kate and Maggie have done for the standing of hockey in this country. I’ve worked with them both directly for over 10 years and they uphold all the values of our sport and are truly inspiring characters to be around both on and off the pitch.”
England rugby duo Hunter (far right) and Clark (near right) were both part of the victorious team that were crowned World Champions for the first time in 20 years in August after England defeated Canada 21-9 in the final in front of 20,000 people.
Hunter, England’s vice-captain and No. 8, has 68 caps and has scored 17 tries for her country. She has led England on several occasions too, including the 2013 Six Nations championship and more recently against Spain and Canada at the World Cup. The 29-year-old has competed in two Rugby World Cup tournaments, including the 2010 World Cup final defeat to New Zealand. She, however, played a vital role in reversing that defeat four years later to take the coveted World Cup crown at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris. Hunter also works as a RFU University Rugby Development Officer in the South West.
Sarah Hunter MBE said: “It’s a massive honour to be recognised in this way. As a team we have enjoyed incredible success and I’m so proud to be a part of that. This is for everyone who has been involved in my journey along the way – from when I started playing at the age of nine all the way through to winning the World Cup this summer. It’s the medics who get you onto the pitch, my family who have been incredible throughout and of course all of the players and coaches. It’s a real team effort and it’s been a massive whirlwind since we won the World Cup – it hasn’t sunk in yet and to have this award on top is surreal. It’s such an honour.”
Clark, meanwhile, is England’s most capped current player with 95 appearances for her country and she is England’s second most capped player of all time – a hugely impressive achievement given her front row position. The prop is a veteran of three World Cups but like Hunter she had to wait until August of this year to be able to call herself a world champion.
Clark, 33, mixes her rugby playing with her role as Head Coach of the Chesham Stags and Bucks University. She said: “I feel hugely honoured and proud to receive this award and would like to thank my family, and in particular my mum for driving me around, my friends and all the coaches along the way for supporting me. And a special mention to [England Women’s Forwards Coach] Graham Smith for making me the player I am today.
“If you had asked me in 2003 – when I got my first cap – if I would become a world champion and receive an MBE I wouldn’t have believed it, but 11 years on it’s all happened at once. What a year 2014 has been, and I still feel I have lots to give on and off the field.”
Hunter and Clark join World Cup winning captain Katy Mclean as the three players within the current Elite Playing squad to be honoured in the New Year’s Honours List.