JANUARY 15th 2017 – Helen Richardson-Walsh MBE makes her first visit to Ashford (Middlesex) Hockey Club
Four time Olympian and the winner of bronze (2012) and gold (2016) Olympic hockey medals, as well as making 293 International appearances, scoring 45 International goals and winning numerous National League and Indoor titles, Helen Richardson-Walsh MBE, visited Ashford Hockey Club for the first time on Sunday morning of 15th January. The idea of the visit was to mainly observe the Junior coaching sessions, to meet the Junior and Senior members of the Club and to give a brief talk about her hockey career and to show everyone her Rio 2016 gold medal.
Helen arrived early and was shown round the site by Club President Lynne Morgan, who had arranged the visit and has known Helen for several years. Helen then met a few of the early arrivals and several of the Junior coaches and did her first round of autographing and requested photographs before the Juniors went out for their coaching sessions. Despite the constant rain, which had caused the cancellation of some local mini hockey tournaments and other junior events, the sessions at Ashford were in full swing with four main groups participating, and many Mum’s and Dads and Ashford members watching. Helen met each group and learnt what they were practicing as well as encouraging all involved.
Once the sessions were complete, everyone moved inside to hear what Helen had to say and see the much anticipated Gold Olympic medal. Lynne Morgan introduced Helen and did a short question and answer session covering Helen’s, early hockey career as a Junior herself at West Bridgford Hockey, moving onto her career at senior Hockey Clubs both in England and Holland and then onto her Olympic experiences. Her responses were inspirational and very much echoed the GB squads ethos of 1. Be the difference 2.Create history and 3. Inspire the future. The third part of which Helen’s visit certainly did. Once the formal speeches were over Helen took her time to speak to everyone who came to see her and sign every item and picture that was put before her and pose for every photograph requested. Luckily top sports photographer Steve McCarthy was on hand to record the happenings. The event ran an hour overtime, but Helen was more than pleased to stay and chat with all and ensure that nobody who wanted to see her gold medal etc., was not disappointed. There were AHC members present ranging from those who have been members since 1946, to some Junior members who only joined at Christmas. It really was an inspirational visit and one which will be remembered by all those present, including Helen who was impressed by all she saw.
Updated 18:16 - 17 Jan 2017 by Lynne Morgan