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Pinewood founder Fairbrother follows in daughter's footsteps with MBE

Published: 10 Jan 2014 16:000 comments

LYNDA Fairbrother, the founder of Pinewood Gymnastics Club, gave up her day job to pursue a lifelong passion for the sport.

Lynda, left, and Nicola Fairbrother.

Lynda, from Sandhurst, was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List for her services to gymnastics.

Remarkably, she is the second in her family to receive the prestigious award, 20 years after her daughter Nicola.

Nicola won silver in judo at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was awarded the MBE in 1994.

Lynda was as surprised as anyone to be honoured by Her Majesty The Queen and said: “I didn’t think you could get two MBEs in one family. Everybody is delighted. I retired in March so it’s quite a nice thing to happen.”

The former PE teacher has devoted nearly 50 years to the sport since moving to Maidenhead in the 1960s.

She became interested in gymnastics when she took two of her pupils to a club in Slough.

She was then persuaded to do a coaching course and her interest snowballed from there.

“I got hooked on the sport and eventually set up a gym club at Sandhurst School,” she explained.

The club moved to Edgbarrow School, where she also taught, before finally settling in Pinewood near Wokingham.

Lynda coached at national level, and then became a qualified judge in a bid to understand the scoring system and help her students.

She has judged at four of the last five Olympic Games and has been to 12 world championships before finally retiring last March as Chair of the Women’s Technical Committee.

“It’s like a full-time unpaid job. I had to give up teaching because I couldn’t get the weekends off.”

In addition, she was supporting her daughter Nicola, who was an emerging judoka in the late 1980s.

She was coached at Pinewood Judo Club by the legendary Don Werner, who unfortunately passed away this week, and became Britain’s first female Olympic silver medallist at Barcelona in 1992.

Lynda said Werner was ‘a brilliant coach’ and that was the reason she stuck with him, despite being advised otherwise.

So mother and daughter were both travelling around the world pursuing their interest.

“I travelled wherever I could to see Nicola but sometimes it was difficult.

“We went to the Games together in Atlanta, she was competing and I was judging.”

The 71-year-old, who is the current chairman of Pinewood Judo Club, said: “The highlight has been watching the career of Beth Tweddle. The first major thing was seeing the Union Jack go up and hearing the national anthem go when she won bronze at the European Championships.

“I’ve been lucky enough to watch that girl go from strength to strength.”

It was the first medal ever won by a female British gymnast and Fairbrother also witnessed Tweddle’s swansong at London 2012, when she took bronze.

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