OUR SIX PATRONS
Lee Dixon is a former English professional footballer who played as a right-back for Arsenal, Burnley, Bury, Chester City and Stoke City, as well as gaining 22 caps for the England national side. Like his long time team mate Tony Adams, Lee is revered by fans at Arsenal where he spent the majority of his career.
His stay in north London spanned 15 years and 619 appearances - fourth in the all-time list of Arsenal players - until his retirement in 2002 after winning the Premier League and FA Cup double at the age of 38. Following the end of his playing career he has concentrated on several business interests in addition to extensive work as a football pundit and columnist, working for the BBC on their Match of the Day and Football Focus programmes before a move to ITV Sport in July 2012. From 2013, he has been the co-lead commentator for the Premier League on NBC Sports in the United States. Alongside this, he has actively supported several charitable causes, including joining former England rugby union captain Lawrence Dallaglio on long distance sponsored bike rides in 2010 and 2012, the latter a 1,700-mile journey from Greece to London that raised over £986,000 for Sport Relief
Kate Hoey's obvious credentials as a skilled politician and a relentless champion for sport in the UK were recognised at the highest level in 1999 when she became the country's first ever female Sports Minister, a popular appointment made by Tony Blair in the first term of the New Labour government.
It was seen as a shrewd choice by many; raised in Country Antrim, Kate was a Northern Ireland High Jump Champion in her youth and after relocating to England and taking up post as senior lecturer at Kingsway College in London, spent time as an Educational Adviser to a number of football clubs including Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, QPR, Chelsea, and Brentford. Since joining the House of Commons, Kate has become known for taking a principled stance on many issues including the war in Iraq, extended detention without trial and humanitarian conditions in Zimbabwe. She has given her time and expertise to a number of charities linked to sport and young people including the Outward Bound Trust and the Roots & Shoots vocational training centre in Lambeth. Kate is also Vice President of the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association and honorary Vice-President of Surrey County Cricket Club whose Oval home sits within the Vauxhall constituency she has represented as a Member of Parliament since 1989.
Rugby League Coach
Tony Smith's involvement with British Rugby League began in 1996, finishing his playing career with Workington Town in the inaugural Super League season having previously represented both Illawarra Steelers and the St. George Dragons in his native Australia.
He secured his first coaching role at Huddersfield Giants in September 2001 followed by a glittering four season spell in charge of Leeds Rhinos, expertly guiding the side to three Grand Final appearances and two Super League titles. His stewardship of the Rhinos made Tony the obvious choice to take up the reins from Brian Noble as coach of Great Britain and England in 2007 before returning to club rugby as Head Coach at Warrington Wolves two years later. His appointment marked the Cheshire side's reawakening as a credible force in the English top flight as he led the club to their first Challenge Cup title since 1974 in his first season in charge and further successes in 2010 and 2012. Tony coached the Wolves to their first League Leader's Shield in the Super League era in 2011 becoming the first team in six years to break 1,000 points scored during a season.
A global superstar who has sold 300 million records and with scores of memorable songs to his name encapsulating the enduring talent of a pop icon, Sir Elton John has devoted much of his life both to charitable causes and his long held passion for sport.
He founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992 as a charity to fund programmes for HIV/AIDS prevention, for the elimination of prejudice and discrimination against affected individuals, and for providing services to people living with or at risk of contracting the disease. Another of Sir Elton's passions, Watford Football Club, have been transformed through his lifelong involvement, most notably in his first of two spells as the club's chairman from 1976 to 1987 during which the side rose three divisions into the English top flight, finishing runners up in 1983 and reaching the FA Cup Final at Wembley a year later. A stand at the Club's Vicarage Road home is named in his honour. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
Sir A.P McCoy
Famed for possessing unparalleled mental strength and a ceaseless drive to bring home winning horses whether in low key meetings or in horse racing's showpiece events, Northern Irishman A.P McCoy has rewritten virtually every record in the book.
From his debut season in Britain in 1994 until his retirement in 2015 McCoy has been utterly dominant in National Hunt racing and was the Champion Jockey for 20 consecutive seasons before calling time on a magnificent career in which he has endured multiple injuries - he has broken his middle and lower vertebrae, his shoulder blades, collarbones, ribs, an ankle, cheekbones, his wrist, and his leg - on his way to securing a staggering 4,358 winners over the jumps. His most notable race wins came in the form of two Cheltenham Gold Cups, three Champion Hurdles, the King George VI Chase and after numerous near misses, a long awaited triumph in the 2010 Grand National in his 15th attempt. Shortly after his National triumph he became the first jockey to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year and was knighted in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to horse racing.
Dame Kelly Holmes
Setting and still holding the British records in the 800m and 1000m, Kelly is an Olympic, Commonwealth and European champion that has achieved seven Gold, eight Silver and four Bronze medals throughout her career.
This includes her double win in the 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, becoming the first Briton in over 80 years to do so. After her Olympic success, she won BBC Sports Personality of the Year, European Athlete of the Year and was honoured with a Damehood from the Queen. Her running career was overshadowed with repeated injury and disappointment. Recurring physical injuries contributed to periods of clinical depression and self-harm that continued to affect her just one year before her Olympic double win.
Soon after this win, Kelly set up the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. The charity helps guide disadvantaged young people, getting their lives back on track by using world class athletes to engage, enable and empower, attitudes they need to fulfil a positive life. She encourages the same philosophy that she lives by, nothing is impossible.
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