Anne Wafula-Strike, a paralympian from Harlow, Essex, is among more than 25 Essex residents who have been awarded for their services in the Queen’s birthday honours list this year.
Anne has been awarded the MBE for her services to disability sport and charity.
Anne was very surprised to find out she was to be honoured with the award, stating:
“I still cannot believe it. I found out a month ago and I have had to keep it a secret which was so difficult.
“I had been trying to avoid people in case I told them, I felt bad as I felt like I was deceiving them or lying to them.
“I thought it was a joke, when I started reading the letter and the envelope had Her Majesty on it I was like ‘what, this is a joke?’ You just do not expect anything like that to happen and when it happened I was just in shock.
“I don’t deserve it.”
While Anne herself may not believe she deserves this award, her list of accomplishments is very impressive.
Anne has been wheelchair racing since 2002, and became the first ever person from east Africa to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, just two years after beginning her racing career.
Anne has also won numerous medals. She has won three gold medals at British Disability Events, and made her GB debut at the 2006 Visa Paralympic World Cup. In addition, Anne also won a further three medals at the DSE Championships in Manchester.
As well her commitment and success in sport, Anne is also involved in charity work. Anne works for All Ability and Leisure as a wheelchair coach with young disabled people in Harlow, and has been a sporting champion for Sport England.
Anne’s achievements don’t end there, as she also launched the charity ‘Disabled Empowerment Association’ in 2010, which aims to empower people with a disability through educational opportunities.
Anne comments on the motivation behind her charity work: “I do what I do because I enjoy it, and I try to help charities as I am who I am because of charity work and of the opportunities I was given as a result. I know that it makes a difference to somebody’s life.
“My dad will be overjoyed with the news. He used to say to me ‘Anne you just need to work hard, be passionate and you will die with Kings and Queens’.
“I am still in shock though, I can’t believe it but the MBE is not just mine, it is for all the people I have worked with and for all the people that made it possible for me to support others. It is not just for me, it is for them.”
Anne is a very inspirational individual and her passion and dedication to disability sport and charity work shines through. Her gratitude for the award is also evident, as is her selflessness and compassion as she dedicates the MBE to everyone she has worked with.
A number of other Essex residents were also awarded for their services:
Avril Mills, the founder of The Dream Factory – a charity which makes wishes come true for children and young people with life limiting or life threatening conditions – has been awarded a BEM for charitable services to children and young people.
Clive Anthony Stobbs, Chief executive Officer for Autism Anglia, from Colchester, Essex, has been awarded an OBE for services to People with Autism.
Anne Elizabeth Mitchell has been awarded an MBE for services to Children with Disabilities and to the community through the Barrow Farm Riding for the Disabled in High Wood Essex.
For more information and to see the full list of everyone in Essex who has been awarded in the Queen’s birthday honours list this year, please click here.
Written by Poppy Reece