I watched most of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shindig on Sunday night.
The two best awards for me were the young award that was given to Eleanor Simmons for her stunning gold medals in the Paralympics. It was so good to see a paralympian wining an award where she was head to head with able bodied athletes – a great message for our country I thought. Her beaming face and great spirit are one of the best memories of this year.
But the most poignant for me was the award to Alastair Hignell who was awarded the Helen Rollason award for ‘outstanding courage and achievement in the face of adversity'. In 1975 I was on a school trip to Twickenham to watch the varsity match – we saw history as Hignell scored 60 points that day for Cambridge. He’d already moved positions from scrum half to full back so that he stood more chance at an England place. He’d made his debut in club rugby and also for England already. He went on to be a memorable England full back. Not only that he also played professional cricket for Gloustershire for many seasons and won England caps for that sport as well. An amazing sportsman. He retired and became a commentator for the BBC. In 1999 he was diagnosed with MS. He has battled it for those years but this year had to retire due to his worsening condition. I was at Twickenham for the Wasps Leicester Premiership final that was his last game and remember the amazing standing ovation he received before the kick off. As he received his award on Sunday the smile was there, the thanks to others and I was reminded what a gentleman he has always been.
So both these awards brought much needed humility to me. Whatever is going on in my life it is small compared to what some people have to face day to day and that they overcome with great dignity.