Belper Olympic hockey star honoured with New Year’s MBE

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Belper’s Olympic gold medal star saw her perfect 2016 capped with an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for services to hockey.

Hollie Webb, 26, scored the winning penalty for Team GB in the women’s hockey final at the Rio games back in August - but she never imagined the celebrations would continue so long after.

She said: “I never let myself get carried away believing a gold medal was attainable, so I never imagined what came after. It all still feels unreal.

“But to receive an MBE is amazing, what an honour. It’s the perfect ending to a year which brought everything I’ve wanted for so long. I’m very, very proud.”

Hollie was nominated alongside the rest of her teammates, and they have been quietly sharing the excitement between themselves.

She said: “The letter came a few weeks ago, asking if we would accept an MBE if the Queen approved it - but we were sworn to secrecy.

“We were all together for the first time in months at the Sports Personality of the Year ceremony. There were a few excited whispers that night and on our WhatsApp group.”

The team are awaiting details of their next medal ceremony, but a trip to Buckingham Palace is on the cards. It will also mean Hollie needs to find a space for another award in her London home.

She said: “My Olympic gold is just in a cupboard somewhere at the moment, I get asked to take it out so often.”

Hollie, who grew up in Blackbrook and joined Belper Hockey Club aged eight, now works in finance for government department Defra.

She said it was good to be back in Belper for Christmas among family and friends after a busy few months.

She added: “It’s been crazy. There was a Royal reception in October, I did Strictly for Children in Need in November, and we’ve been going round the country speaking in schools and sports clubs - all around work and training.

“It’s nice to be able to talk to young hockey players, and show them what it’s possible to achieve wherever you’re coming from.”

Top of Hollie’s list of goals for 2017 is more on-field success. She said: “Training starts next week, and it’s a brand new squad. We’ve got the European Championships this summer, and qualifiers for the World Cup in London next year - but it’s all about Tokyo 2020.”

There is also the small matter of her wedding, which will bring her back to Derbyshire, and her childhood parish church in September.

She said: “It had to be the place. I owe my mum and dad so much for bringing me up here, and all the opportunities it offered.”