On Monday 4th December, at the Brooklands Hotel, guests gathered for the Surrey Sports Awards 2017. Hosted by BBC Surrey’s Tim Durrant a number of County and Local Awards were announced to recognise great achievements and commitment from both teams and individuals. Recipient of the Freedom Leisure Sports Personality of the Year Award was long-term friend, supporter and multi-Paralympian Rachel Morris MBE.

At the age of 17, Rachel sustained an ankle injury, which triggered the onset of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) a chronic pain condition that usually affects one limb. In January 2003, as a result of CRPS, her left leg was amputated and a few years later the disease spread to her right leg, resulting in a second amputation. Based in Guildford, the double amputee began her career in hand cycling, taking Gold in the time trial event in 2008 at the Beijing Paralympics before tackling the road race in London 2012, where she won a Bronze medal.

A previous fan of sailing, following London 2012 Rachel made the difficult decision to make the transition to competitive rowing, one that proved particularly successful. Her return to the water provided her with a fresh challenge, albeit a huge one, as she quickly adapted her training and picked up the technical knowledge and skills that would equip her for victory in the boat. Just 3 years away from Rio, the British Paralympic rowing team had a huge reputation of achievement and at the Rio Paralympic Games Rachel exceeded their high expectations, bringing home the Gold medal.

Throughout her career she has continued to play a vital role in many of the activities that COINS Foundation supports. Rachel plays an influential part in the vision of the Surrey Para Games (formerly known as the Waverley Para Games) acting as an ambassador for the event and also working to improve access to disability sport. In addition, alongside juggling her athlete related demands of training and competing, Rachel has worked with Stepping Stones School over the years and has recently continued to work individually with them on a more regular basis.

An inspiration to many, we are delighted that Rachel’s commitment and achievement has been recognised with this award and we wish her the best of luck in whatever the future holds for her.