St Albans special Olympics basketball coach awarded BEM in New Year's Honours list

Damir Davis, Simon Jackson-Turner and Daniel Bernard of Special Olympics GB

Simon Jackson-Turner (middle), seen with Special Olympics GB gold medallists Damir Davis and Daniel Bernard, has been awarded the BEM in the 2021 New Year's Honours list. - Credit: SIMON JACKSON-TURNER

A St Albans coach who has been a volunteer part of Special Olympics GB for the last two World Summer Games has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the 2021 New Year's Honours.

Simon Jackson-Turner, who has also led the Inclusion Project, was rewarded for his service to care and sport.

He is one of three from Special Olympics GB to be recognised, Murton Mann and Greg Silvester being the others.

Jackson-Turner said: “I feel truly blessed and humbled.  I fell into supporting people with intellectual disabilities and it changed my life - professionally and personally.

"Working with and supporting such amazing people helped me to feel comfortable being me in all settings. It made my work fun, exciting and most of all enjoyable.

"I know that this is a rare and special thing.

"I am eternally grateful for the opportunities and learning that Special Olympics have provided me and I am incredibly proud to have coached with them.

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"I would highly recommend volunteering and getting involved in their amazing organisation. It is life changing.”

Michelle Carney, CEO of Special Olympics GB, said: “This year has been incredibly tough for so many and Murton, Greg and Simon epitomise the spirit of Special Olympics and the wonderful contribution all our volunteers make to the lives of our athletes across Great Britain."

Special Olympics Great Britain was set up in 1978 as a non-profit charity, providing year-round sports coaching and athletic competition in summer and winter sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, defined as "a significantly reduced ability to understand new or complex information, to learn new skills and with a reduced ability to cope independently".

Unlike the Olympics and Paralympics, Special Olympics differs in that it aims to offer opportunities for athletes of all abilities to take part in a range of sport every day of the week, every week of the year.

There are currently more than 120 accredited clubs in England, Scotland and Wales that provide coaching and competition opportunities in 28 sports.

All the programmes are run by volunteers with over 4,000 supporting the thousands of athletes. Their work is funded by individuals, trust and corporate donations and financial support is crucial to enable them to continue the work.

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