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Coach Sophie is praised for her dedication to athletics after receiving BEM

By Alan Hendry

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Sophie Dunnett after being presented with her British Empire Medal by Lord Thurso, the Lord-Lieutenant of Caithness.
Sophie Dunnett after being presented with her British Empire Medal by Lord Thurso, the Lord-Lieutenant of Caithness.

Caithness athletics coach Sophie Dunnett has been praised for her dedication to the sport after receiving her British Empire Medal.

The presentation was made in Thurso's Royal British Legion club by Lord Thurso, the Lord-Lieutenant of the county, in recognition of Sophie's services to amateur athletics over a period of more than three decades.

She was named in the New Year honours list after helping athletes make the most of their potential locally, nationally and internationally.

Sophie, of Reay, has been coaching since 1987. She is a UKA Level 3 performance coach who has been nominated three times for Scottish Athletics Performance Coach of the Year and currently coaches athletes who compete at national and international level, including Halkirk’s Andrew Douglas, mountain running World Cup Series winner.

North Highland Harriers chairman Sandy Christie expressed his gratitude to Sophie for her inspirational contribution to the club and to running in Caithness and Sutherland. He presented her with a bouquet.

Alison Grey, Scottish Athletics coaching coordinator, also recognised Sophie's key role in the planning and delivery of endurance sessions and said: "We at Scottish Athletics are extremely proud of Sophie's achievements and thank her for her work and dedication to the sport."

Sophie said: "In life we don't always get to determine the direction of our journey and I feel so humble that I have been involved in coaching endurance athletes for such a large part of my journey. Does this BEM make me a better coach? No, but it will continue to remind me how fortunate I am to spend my life doing something that I get as much back from as I put in."

North Highland Harriers meet in Wick and Thurso on Tuesdays and Thursdays for coached running sessions, and for beginners' groups on Monday, and new runners are invited to go along.

At the time her BEM was announced at the end of 2020, Sophie said: "I can't do what I do in coaching without the athletes and without my family putting up with me.

"There used to be this stereotype of coaches that they were there for helping you achieve your potential in an athletics arena. But it's actually a whole lot more than that, because somebody's ability to achieve in any sport transcends the whole of their life and it changes everything about them – their confidence, their outlook on life – and being part of that journey with people is amazing, it's just totally heart-warming."

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