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Honours 'really special' for Rio GB hockey star Kate Richardson-Walsh and wife

Hockey's Olympic golden couple said receiving their honours at Buckingham Palace was the stuff that "dreams are made of".

Kate Richardson-Walsh, 36, who captained Great Britain's women to a first Olympic hockey gold medal at Rio 2016 Olympics, collected an OBE.

She said it was "really special" to be sharing the day with her wife and team-mate Helen Richardson-Walsh, 35, who picked up an MBE.

Kate said: "When I was at school and thinking of what I might be one day, this was nowhere near my radar.

"I wanted to be a PE teacher and I would have been quite happy with that but this is like being in a movie. It is quite bizarre. It is like what dreams are made of.

"I think it does show that, with hard work and if you really go for it, these things can happen to you.

"It was also so special to have this opportunity and see my wife have this recognition after having stood with her on the podium in Rio."

Kate has now retired from the international game after 375 caps for her country and captaining the side since 2003.

The couple married in a civil ceremony in 2013.

Kate said they felt very lucky to be a high-profile same-sex couple with incredibly supportive families and hockey team.

She said: "I know there are people who have been shunned and locked out of their homes. We want to say there a place for you where you can feel comfortable in your own skin, whatever that is.

"We know that we are creating history. Being a same-sex couple is something different and it it good that people are talking about it because same-sex marriage and LGBT issues are still a little bit taboo - so the more we can normalise it and talk about it the better."

She led Great Britain to a nerve-shredding triumph over the Netherlands at the Rio Olympics. They won in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

Speaking after they received their awards from the Prince of Wales, Helen said: "It is another nice photograph for the mantelpiece."

Schoolgirl Ellie Robinson, who made a splash by winning gold at her first Paralympics, said picking up her MBE was "amazing" but "surreal".

The 15-year-old beat her swimming hero, Ellie Simmonds, in winning gold in the S6 50m Butterfly at the Rio Games.

She said: "I had to try hard not to be so nervous (today). It was amazing, quite surreal, but after the past year there has been a lot of things which have had to sink and I think this will have to be another one.

"It has been a whirlwind, going from qualifying, being selected, being in with a chance of a medal and then winning.

"The whole year has gone so quickly and it has been so unexpected."

She is currently focusing on her GCSEs and then wants to compete at the World Championships in Mexico.

The Northampton teenager and BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year was inspired to take the sport seriously after watching Simmonds in action at the London 2012 Paralympics.

Both swimmers have achondroplasia (dwarfism).

Claire Cashmore, Steph Millward and Alice Tai, three members of the quartet which won the 34 point 4x100m medley relay in a world record time, were also among Paralympics stars picking up MBEs.

Victory in Rio meant Cashmore, 28, finally became a Paralympic champion in her fourth Games.

After collecting her MBE, the Redditch-born swimmer said: "I actually got a bit overwhelmed and did cry a little bit, to be honest. I looked at this (MBE) medal and suddenly got a bit emotional.

"It is a really special thing and something I never thought I would ever get."

Receiving her MBE topped off a memorable week for Wiltshire swimmer Millward, 35, after Corsham Swimming Pool was renamed in her honour.

She said she felt "incredibly proud" after collecting her award.

Tai said the special day was a good opportunity to catch up with team-mates, who train across the country, and remember Rio.

The 18-year-old from Poole, who was born with a club foot, said: "It is really crazy. It has been such an honour to receive an MBE for swimming which is something I love, and then have this award come from that."

In one of the memorable images of the Rio Paralympics, a stunned Susie Rodgers clapped her hand to her mouth in disbelief after winning the 50m butterfly S7. Sports fans have dubbed it the "shock face".

After collecting her MBE, she said: "I did not do the shock face, which is reserved for the end of races. Winning gold was a complete shock but at least I knew I was getting this MBE."

She said she was "very nervous and excited" by the event and somehow managed to do two curtseys instead of one.

The Stockton-on-Tees-born swimmer added: "It is a complete honour. For us (swimmers), it is all about doing well for our country. I did not expect to win gold and so this is a lovely thing to receive."

Rodgers, who was born without a fully formed arm and leg, has been a regular member of the British para-swimming team since 2011.

Broadcaster Maggie Philbin, 61, chief executive and co-founder of TeenTech, which promotes science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) as careers to teenagers, said she had been "excited" about her OBE.

The former Swap Shop and Tomorrow's World presenter, who has worked in radio and television for 30 years, is president of the Institute of Engineering Design and chair of the UK Digital Skills Taskforce. She also serves on the Stem Commission for Haringey.

She said the OBE feels like "a huge honour" because she was accepting it for a lot of people who have helped to make TeenTech a success.


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