'True heroes of Hertfordshire': celebrating county's Olympians and Paralympians

Olympic and Paralympic Reception

The Olympic and Paralympic reception at County Hall. Front Row: Chris Ryan, Jonathan Coggan, Grace Harvey, Jess Stretton, Louise Fiddes. Back Row: Verity Naylor (Deputy Chef de Mission Tokyo 2020) Dave Clarke, Richard Roberts (County Council Leader), Annie Brewster (County Council Vice-Chairman), Robert Voss (Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire), Lionel Wallace (High Sheriff of Hertfordshire), Seamus Quilty (County Council Chairman), Rowan McKellar, Vanessa Harlow (Event and Project Manager BPA) Stuart Storey. - Credit: Herts County Council

Local Football Hall of Fame legend, Dave Clarke, attended a special reception at County Hall to mark the achievements of the county’s sporting heroes at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer.

Dave, former President of the St Albans Chamber of Commerce, is the ex-captain of Britain’s Blind Football five-a-side team. He competed in the Paralympics in Atlanta (1996), Beijing (2008) and London (2012). He achieved 144 caps in football throughout his international career and scored 128 goals.

In his capacity as a British Paralympic Association board member, Dave Clarke, joined the Herts Lord-Lieutenant Robert Voss, High Sheriff Lionel C Wallace, and county council chairman Seamus Quilty to welcome six Hertfordshire Paralympian and Olympian heroes to Hertford.

The athletes included ParalympicGB’s Wheelchair Rugby Captain Chris Ryan from Welwyn and teammate Jonathan Coggan from Letty Green who took Gold in Tokyo, beating the USA 54-49 in a thrilling final.

Welwyn Garden City swimmer, Louise Fiddes brought her impressive Paralympic silver and bronze 100m breaststroke and 200m individually medley swimming medals to share with the guests.

To acknowledge all their achievements and contribution to Hertfordshire’s sporting legacy, Lord Lieutenant for Hertfordshire, Robert Voss, presented the world-class athletes with ‘Hero of Hertfordshire’ certificates.  As part of the event the athletes were interviewed by previous Olympian and ex-BBC commentator, Stuart Storey.

Dave Clarke said: “It was an honour to meet some of Hertfordshire’s Paralympian and Olympian heroes today.  I know how hard they worked to achieve these sensational results in Tokyo, particularly having to cope with limited training facilities during the height of the pandemic. I was immensely proud to hear their stories and witness their indefatigable determination and courage.”

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Robert Voss added: “I was delighted to be able to thank and congratulate some true Heroes of Hertfordshire at the ceremony at County Hall in recognition of all they have achieved in their fields at the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"What these individuals have achieved for themselves, their teams, their county and their country gives me immense pride, and I have no doubt their sporting achievements will inspire a new generation of young sportsmen and women in the county for years to come.”