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Royal Honour for Paisley Charity’s Patron

Olympic champion rower and patron of Paisley’s national charity, the Scottish Huntington’s Association, Sarah Winckless has been made MBE by the Queen.

Olympic rower Sarah Winckless was awarded an MBE during the ceremony

Olympic rower Sarah Winckless was awarded an MBE during the ceremony

The honour, for her services to sport and young people, was presented at a ceremony in December.

Sarah has been Patron of the SHA, the only charity in the country supporting people with the degenerative brain condition Huntington’s disease since 2009.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky with my sporting background and because of Huntington’s (disease) being in my family, I’ve been able to support that community as well,” she said.

Sarah won a bronze medal in double sculls with her partner Elise Laverick at the 2004 Athens Olympics. She is also a double world champion.

She said the Queen asked about rowing and the pair briefly discussed the messages sport can help deliver for young people.

But Ms Winckless said her newly-awarded honour may not give her any more authority to mentor aspiring athletes.

“I find with young people, giving them advice is always an interesting dance to do anyway.”

“It’s about helping them make good choices and helping them understand where they are, she added.

HD is a hereditary progressive condition that causes changes to muscle control, thinking processes and can cause long-term mental health issues. The average age of onset is between 33 and 45 and those living with the condition will require 24 hour care as it progresses into its later stages. Each child of someone diagnosed with HD is at 50% risk of developing the condition themselves. There is no cure.

SHA supports families through a team of specialist nurses, a financial wellbeing service and the world’s only dedicated youth support service.

“This is well deserved recognition for the work Sarah has done to encourage young people in sport. We are extremely lucky to have her as Patron and for the work she carries out on our behalf both to raise awareness of the work we do and for her fundraising efforts,“ said SHA chief executive, John Eden.

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