Belfast Telegraph

Royal appointment for sport greats

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh tonight met famous names from the world of sport as they celebrated 50 years of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

Dame Mary Peters, who won gold in the pentathlon in the 1972 Olympics, and paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, who both had fellowships from the trust, attended a reception at Buckingham Palace.

The Trust was set up in 1965, as Sir Winston Churchill's living legacy.

Since then, more than 5,000 British citizens have been awarded fellowships by the Trust, from more than 100,000 applicants, to travel overseas to study areas of topical and personal interest.

Fellows from every decade since 1965 represented the trust at the event.

Dame Mary said after meeting the royal couple: "I used the fellowship to help me train for the Olympics in 1972. I was in Belfast, it was the height of the Troubles, and I didn't have a running track.

"The fellowship gave me the opportunity to go to Pasadena in California to train for six weeks. There was sunshine every day, I had the most amazing time training in May and June, and was successful in Munich in the September."

Baroness Grey-Thompson said: "My fellowship was in 1993. I went to Perth in Australia to look at their methods of identifying talent, and although those methods are very good, it was useful for me to realise that they would not work here because their weather is so much better and they have a smaller population.

"That was useful for me to know when I joined the board of UK Sport in 1997."

At the time of her visit to Australia, she had competed in two of her five paralympics, collecting four of her 11 golds.

The Queen, wearing a Karl Ludwig dress and jacket in green silk with a woven geometric pattern, was given a medallion bearing the photographer Karsh's image of Churchill.

She showed the medallion to the Duke and both studied it with interest.

Artist Brian Clarke, from London, who designed the medallion, said: "It does feel odd presenting the Queen with a medal at Buckingham Palace - it seems somehow the wrong way round."

He said the image of Churchill was digitally etched in to the enamel, creating the medallion's eye catching effect.

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