Queen’s birthday honours for rugby family

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Jonny Wilkinson CBE – seen here with Prince Harry at an event at Twickenham earlier this week to mark 100 days to go until the start of Rugby World Cup 2015

ENGLAND rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson has been made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List  – while volunteers John Emery, from Gloucestershire; Michael Gee, from Cornwall; and Greg Hawkins, from Greater Manchester all get British Empire Medals (BEM).

Wilkinson, who had already been awarded an OBE in 2008, famously won the World Cup with England in 2003 – kicking a drop goal in the last minute of extra-time in the final to defeat Australia 20-17. He was also a key figure in the side which reached the 2007 final, losing to South Africa.

In total, Wilkinson went on to win 91 England caps and a further six with the British & Irish Lions. He spent 12 years with Newcastle Falcons before moving to French club Toulon, where he led them to back-to-back Heineken Cup successes in 2013 and 2014.

Since retiring at the end of the 2013-14 season, Wilkinson has taken on a role as an ambassador for the RFU’s All Schools programme, which is introducing rugby union to secondary schools that have not previously played the sport. To date, 400 schools have been enrolled in the programme and Wilkinson has been a passionate advocate.

Bill Beaumont, Chairman of the RFU, was quick to praise Wilkinson and the three rugby volunteers named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

He said: “I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to all those individuals from our rugby family who have been recognised in the Honours List today.

“It is wonderful to see three volunteers who have given so much to our game getting some much-deserved acclaim. Volunteers are the life-blood of our sport, whether they are coaching, refereeing or working hard behind the scenes in often unseen, but nevertheless crucial, administrative roles. John Emery, Michael Gee and Greg Hawkins have done so much for rugby in their own areas and it is great that today we get the chance to thank them for that.

“I hardly need to say anything about Jonny Wilkinson’s glittering career as his achievements speak for themselves. He is a hero to so many people, both in this country and abroad, and he epitomises everything that is good about the game. We talk a lot about the values of rugby and you could not get a better example of someone who lives those values than Jonny. His CBE is richly deserved.”

Emery receives his BEM for services to grassroots rugby in Gloucestershire. He has been associated with Gordon League RFC since 1947, serving as chairman from 1959 to 1992 before taking up the mantle again in 2009. His tireless energy is credited with driving the club forward and in recent years he has committed himself to establishing a youth section that will lay the foundations for a solid future.

Gee receives his BEM for services to rugby in the South West. The 70-year-old has filled numerous voluntary administrative posts in the last 35 years, starting out as secretary of St Ives RFC in Cornwall back in 1980. Since 1995 he has been South West Division Competitions Co-ordinating Secretary and South West Divisional Representative on the RFU Competitions Sub-Committee. He is widely regarded for his knowledge, calmness and ability to problem solve, never more so than in the floods that struck the region last year, when he successfully re-arranged 350 games, many on the same day. His commitment to treating all clubs, no matter how big or small, equally and fairly is recognised across the south west.

Greg Hawkins receives the BEM for services to rugby in the North West. His dedication to the Manchester-based Trafford Metrovicks RFCC (Rugby Football and Cricket Club) included launching a mini and junior section in the late 1990s. That  injected new spirit into the club and the section now provides rugby for over 300 boys and girls every week.

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