Royal honour for community-minded PE teacher

An invite from Buckingham Palace has topped a successful year for RGS PE teacher Helen Mackenzie. PHOEBE HALL reports on the community-minded founder of Ripon City Netball Club

SUCCESS has come in threes for a community-minded PE teacher whose contribution to society has been recognised locally and nationally.

Shortly after being crowned Riponian of the Year for her work with Ripon City Netball Club, Helen Mackenzie received a prestigious British Citizen Award certificate of recognition, which celebrates the extraordinary work of unsung heroes across the country.

To top it all, Mrs Mackenzie, known affectionately by her students as Miss Mac, then received a letter from the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire inviting her to the Queen’s Buckingham Palace Royal Garden Party in May.

She said: “It has been quite a year for me. The awards came out of the blue. I am so thrilled, proud, incredibly grateful and, above all else, humbled by the fact people have taken the time to nominate and vote for me. I love Ripon and I love giving back to the community I live in.”

A parent of past and present RGS pupils, Mrs Mackenzie added: “I have volunteered all my life, either coaching or teaching or raising funds for various causes. It means a lot that people realise and acknowledge what volunteers do.”

She plans to bring her mother to Buckingham Palace, with her husband acting as chauffeur for the day, on May 29.

The aim of the British Citizen Award is to recognise those who give above and beyond to those around them, volunteering and providing service in areas like education and business.

Mrs Mackenzie founded and runs the Ripon City Netball Club, inspiring women of all ages to take up a competitive team sport and enjoy the many health and social benefits this brings.

She also leads a swimming academy, on top her Saturday role with the ACE academy, is an enthusiastic member of Ripon Lions and was one of the 2012 Olympic torch bearers.

The awards panel said: “Helen’s achievement in being nominated for the positive impact and actions she has on society is worthy of recognition and note. It is activities such as Helen’s which make life in UK communities so much better for many. Helen should be justifiably proud of being nominated.”