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Ellen Falkner says shock at news of MBE soon turned to joy and delight

England’s Ellen Falkner has been honoured with an MBE for services to the sport of Lawn Bowls in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The list is usually published in June to mark the monarch’s official birthday but was delayed this summer so those who served on the coronavirus frontline could be recognised.

A total of 1,495 people across the UK are honoured.

England’s three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ellen Falkner is one of them.

The 41-year-old from Cambridgeshire, one of the most decorated lawn bowls players of her generation, won Gold on her Games debut at Manchester in 2002 in the fours with Shirley Page, Gill Mitchell and Carol Duckworth.

Ellen went on to top the podium at Delhi 2010 in the pairs with Amy Gowshall and in the triples in Glasgow 2014 with Sophie Tolchard and Sian Honnor.

She also won a triples Bronze Medal at the Gold Coast Games in 2018 with Katherine Rednall and Sian Honnor and was recently named in the England High Performance squad for Birmingham 2022.

In addition to her Commonwealth successes Ellen has amassed six World Championships medals and a haul of indoor and outdoor county, national and British Isles titles.

In 2016 she won her third World Indoor women’s matchplay singles title.

In addition to her achievements on the green, Ellen regularly volunteers her time to help others succeed and is passionate about raising the profile of the sport.

She said: “Initially I was in shock – I had to keep re-reading the email to make sure I had read it correctly! Then the shock turned to joy and delight. It is a wonderful honour, for both myself and my family who been with me every step of the way. 

“My husband Chris was the first person I shared the news with. The reaction of my friends and family has been completely overwhelming. The phone calls, messages and posts on social media from people all over the world has been staggering. The moment that really ‘got me’ was when my grandad said to me “I’m so chuffed and proud. I don’t know what your nan would have made of it; I wish she was here to share it”.

“I am both thankful and grateful for the important part that bowls has played in my life, the opportunities it has given me to test myself at the highest level, travel the world and make friends for life. I treasure the friendships, special moments and precious memories made, of which I hope there will be many more. This is a wonderful moment for myself and family who have unconditionally loved and supported me throughout.”

Ellen describes her career highlights to date as the three Commonwealth gold medals, standing on the podium with the St George’s flag being raised and the national anthem being played, with arms around team mates.

“These are memories that I will cherish forever,”she added.

“My wins in the World Ladies Matchplay at Potters have all been really special and memorable from an individual perspective and then on a personal level, winning the National triples and British Isles triples titles with my mum and nan will always be a highlight.

“There are so many things that I love about bowls. It’s really simple to grasp but challenging to master. It’s skilful, tactical and is actually quite addictive! 

“For some, it’s an escape from everyday life, for others it’s a social lifeline and for many, it’s a way to keep those competitive juices still flowing. For all, it’s a lovely community to be part of, and what is really wonderful is that you can play with those you care about most, making it a great sport for friends and family to enjoy together. 

“Both my parents, John and Sue, have always been sporty and when their knees wouldn’t let them play how they wanted to, they took up bowls.

I was only 8 or 9 at the time, so I would go down to the bowls club with them. I actually started playing when I was 12 and for many years, bowls featured alongside many sports for me, until I graduated from University aged 21, and decided just to focus on bowls only.

Ellen, who lists her role models as Mary Price, Jeannie Baker, Amy Gowshall and Karen Murphy as well as club mates Nick Brett and Greg Harlow, says her next goal is to represent England in the forthcoming World Championships.

“It would be a dream come true to have the opportunity to compete in a home Games in Birmingham 2022,” she added.

“The driving force for my bowls career has been a genuine love for the sport and an inbuilt desire to be the best that I can be. 

“The way I am wired as a person is that whatever I set out to do, I give it everything.”