ROWING has been at the heart of Kate O’Sullivan’s career ever since she first stepped into a boat.
It is thanks to her wealth of skills and experience that is why the local community has benefited from an increased uptake in rowing.
Now deputy chairwoman on the board of British Rowing she has successfully grown coaching numbers, ensured the views of the clubs and regions were always represented, and helped increase diversity in the sport.
The 57-year-old moved to the Tees Valley in 1985 and remains a passionate advocate of rowing in the North-East.
Ms O’Sullivan was the first female captain of Tees Rowing Club in 1988 where she established an adaptive rowing programme and today remains a committed junior coach.
Her dedicated work also extends outside of the region by carrying out a mentoring scheme to improve the number of women in high performance coaching positions in world rowing.
And she has now been awarded a British Empire Medal for outstanding services to rowing.
“I am honoured to receive the award,” Ms O’Sullivan said. “I am hopeful that the award will enable me to do even more to ensure our sport is as accessible to as many people across the Tees Valley, North-East and country as a whole.”
Ms O’Sullivan, whose rowing career started as a cox at Leeds University, has established herself as a linchpin of Tees Rowing Club and has helped organised the popular Tees Regatta for over 25 years.
Her passion for the sport is clear, and youth development is central to her future ambitions.
Ms O’Sullivan added: “My philosophy is to place the development at the centre of all that we do, and to get the kids to the age of 18, fit healthy and ready to fulfil their potential as adults. ”
“I’m trying to develop a pathway for locals to follow in the footsteps of local kids who have gone onto achieve international success.”
She’s currently developing a concept named ‘Tees Rowers Building Bridges’ which aims to work with local agencies to give locals a chance to have a great life. “I love to see people just grow as individuals through sport irrespective of how good they are,” she said.