ON October 16th 2020, Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine awarded the Foreign Minister’s Commendation to Harlow Paralympian Noel Thatcher MBE for his contributions to promoting mutual understanding through sport between Japan and the UK.
Noel has represented Team GB at six consecutive Paralympic Games and won five gold medals, as well as breaking the 5,000 metres world record at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics. He was made an MBE in the 1997 New Year’s Honours for ‘Services to Athletics for Disabled People’ and was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
He first visited Japan when he was invited to the marathon tournament held in Miyazaki in 1992. This event ignited his curiosity for Japanese culture and led him to study Japanese at SOAS. Ever since, for nearly thirty years he has been tremendously active and energetic in connecting the UK and Japan through numerous events related to sport and Japanese culture.
Thanks to his welcoming and inclusive personality, his appearance in various events, including the festive radio exercise in the Japan Matsuri, has spread positive energy among all the other people taking part.
Last year he was one of the major figures involved in introducing to Japan the Parkrun scheme, which originated in the UK and welcomes everyone in the community to walk, jog and run together in parks.
At the ceremony, Ambassador Nagamine congratulated Noel on his much deserved Foreign Minister’s Commendation. During his speech, Noel conveyed his honour of receiving the award and his thanks to those who supported him, especially his family.
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