Lancaster wheelchair rugby athlete awarded an MBE in New Year Honours List 2022

Lancaster wheelchair rugby ace Stuart Robinson who achieved gold medal success at the Tokyo Paralympics 2020 has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List 2022.

By Michelle Blade
Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th January 2022, 11:42 am

On his Facebook page Stuart said: "2021; the year that keeps giving and giving…I’m so happy to announce I’ve been awarded a MBE as part of the New Years Honours list for the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby success in Tokyo 2020!"

Stuart was injured while serving with the Royal Air Force in Afghanistan in 2013 and first discovered the joy of wheelchair rugby while recovering.

Stuart said: "While I was laying in hospital, I saw leaflet advertising for wheelchair rugby and I saw a poster advertising the Invictus Games at Headley Court military rehab centre and got involved in that.

Britain's Stuart Robinson (R), a veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan, rolls to score during the pool phase group B wheelchair rugby match between Britain and Canada during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo on August 25, 2021. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP) (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images)

“I was expecting a completely different sport. I was expecting a normal rugby ball – I was expecting to pass the ball backwards and little did I know it was completely opposite with a round ball and you pass it whichever way you want.

“Invictus did its job for me: it got me up and about and mobile again and opened my eyes to disability sports.”

Also awarded an MBE was Ayaz Bhuta, who trains with Stuart at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre in Lancaster.

In September, the mayor and mayoress of Lancaster welcomed Ayaz Bhuta and Stuart Robinson at their training base to congratulate them on their gold medals.

Stuart Robinson and Ayaz Bhuta being congratulated on their gold medals by Kevin Nicholls, Margaret Greenall (Mayoress of Lancaster), Rachel Williams (Salt Ayre manager), Councillor Mike Greenall (Mayor of Lancaster) and Kyle Lewis (duty manager).

They were also presented with signed artwork from local artist, Chas Jacobs and the mayor commented in his speech that the artwork represented “a small token of appreciation from the people of Lancaster and Morecambe, for all of their achievements and pride they have brought to the area.”

Along with Ayaz and Stuart, ten other wheelchair rugby athletes and the head coach were also awarded an MBE for services to wheelchair rugby.

The historic gold-medal win, which drew a television audience of over a million, was an even grander accomplishment for the team following its loss of performance funding after a fifth-place finish at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Yet, despite this huge disadvantage and against the backdrop of the global pandemic and the huge restrictions and delays that came with it, the team secured funding from commercial sponsors which, alongside philanthropic donations from individual supporters and organisations alike, as well as UK Sport Aspiration funding, enabled them to develop and instigate a world-class training and competition schedule.

Chair Ed Warner said: "The GB team made history in Tokyo as the first European team ever to win a Paralympic wheelchair rugby medal and the first team gold in any sport for Britain. The Queen’s honours for all twelve team members and Head Coach Paul Shaw are a fitting reward for delivering for the nation one of the most exhilarating sporting achievements of 2021”.

The twelve wheelchair rugby athletes of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, along with Head Coach Paul Shaw, have each been awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to wheelchair rugby in the New Year Honours List 2022. Credit: Megumi Masuda / World Wheelchair Rugby.

CEO Jason Brisbane said: "This is the perfect end for what has been a fantastic year for our team and our sport. The award for our athletes and Head Coach represents years of work which culminated in an historic Paralympic gold medal. We are all extremely proud of each of the individuals that make up our GB team and could not be more thrilled for them.”

Stuart Robinson in action at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games. ©Megumi Masuda