Cuckfield tennis coach Sue Pegler, who has inspired many deaf youngsters to take up the sport, was recently presented to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace.
Sue was one of 300 Churchill Fellows, chosen from over 4,000, to be part of the 50th anniversary celebrations.
The Winston Churchill Fellowship Trust was set up in 1965 to ‘travel to make a difference’ in a particular field of work or interest. Sue was a 1984 Fellow and, from 1999 to 2003, served in the Council to help choose categories and interview prospective Fellows.
“Being invited to Buckingham Palace and meeting the Queen and Duke was such a privilege and great honour,” said Sue. “It was lovely to meet other Churchill Fellows too who are doing tremendous work at the grassroots of society and are so passionate and enthusiastic!”
Sue was granted a fellowship for ‘Social Integration of the Young Deaf through Tennis’.
The funding enabled her to travel to New York for the USPTCA Conference, meeting other coaches from all over the world.
She went on to spend 8 weeks studying ‘Integration through Sport of the Deaf’ in America and Canada, visiting the Deaf University and schools teams in Washington DC, North Carolina, Baton Rouge, Texas (where Arthur Ashe had a big tennis school for deaf youngsters run by a qualified deaf coach,) San Francisco and Montreal, and witnessing the confidence gained by deaf sports people competing against hearing players.
Armed with contacts, information and experience, Sue set up tennis coaching days all over Britain inspiring a whole generation of deaf youngsters to take up the sport and eventually taking Britain’s first team to compete in the Deaf Davis Cup.
Her first pupil, Andrew Rees from Cuckfield, went to achieve international recognition in world games for deaf tennis and rugby.
Sue is now keen to encourage others to apply for grants. “It’s a chance in a lifetime to make Britain better in your field of work,” she said. “The possibilities are endless to integrate people into communities through sport and you gain much more than you give.”
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