King's Birthday Honours: Sporting Loughborough alumni recognised

David Pond (left) alongside Professor Vicky Tolfrey, Director of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport at Loughborough University.

Five Loughborough alumni have been recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours, with four recognised for sports.

Sarah Hunter, David Pond, and Liz Nicholl are all included in King Charles’ first awards list to mark his official birthday in June alongside Lydia Greenway and Karel Thomas.

Former England rugby union captain Sarah Hunter, who retired in March with a record 141 caps, receives an CBE for her services to the sport.

Sarah graduated from the University in 2007 with a degree in Sports Science and Mathematics and was also awarded an honorary degree last year

Sarah commented:

“I feel very honoured to have been awarded a CBE…rugby for women and girls is in such a different place to when I first started playing and it's been so exciting to be part of that change and growth.”

Also recognised is alumna Liz Nicholl, who has been made a Dame for her services to sport.

Nicholl is the current president of World Netball and previously held the position of Chief Executive at UK Sport. She holds a MSc from Loughborough in Recreation Management and was awarded an honorary degree in 2019

"It has been a real privilege to serve in various roles in sport over the last 40-plus years, working alongside really talented colleagues, and I take huge delight in seeing the recent significant growth in opportunities for women and girls to enjoy participating in sport, both in the UK and internationally,” she said.

"I feel incredibly privileged to have now been awarded the honour of becoming a Dame.”

Alumnus David Pond, the former chief executive of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, has received an MBE for services to wheelchair rugby.

David joined GB Wheelchair Rugby in 2009 and transformed the sport into a professional national governing body. Under his leadership, Great Britain secured gold during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics – the first gold medal for Great Britain in a team sport in the history of the Games.

David has also worked closely with colleagues from the University’s Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport.

"It was an incredible surprise and a joy and a sense of how generous of someone to take the time and trouble to make a nomination,” he said.

"It's an honour not just for me but for all the volunteers, colleagues and board members who over the years have been part of the journey to create this fantastic opportunity for disabled people in Britain.

"It's now part of the Invictus Games and we have developed the game to be even more inclusive. You can play at club level or you can aspirations of playing for your country. It has helped normalise disabilities so people realise that we are all the same and that's great."

Loughborough College graduate Lydia Greenway has been recognised for services to cricket with an OBE. She is a two-time World Cup winner and four-time Ashes winner. She played more than 200 times for England and since retiring from the sport, she has founded an organisation for girls cricket. She completed a foundation degree in sports in 2007.

Outside of sport, alumna Karel Thomas has been awarded an MBE for services to higher education. Her role as the Executive Director for the British Universities Finance Directors Group is based at Loughborough. She has worked within the sector for more than two decades. Karel graduated from Loughborough with a degree in Banking and Finance in 1986.

Many congratulations to our honours recipients.