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  • Writer's picturePhil Packer

Paralympic, World & Commonwealth medallist, Sue Bailey MBE, joins the BRIT Ambassador family

We are delighted that Sue has joined our BRIT Ambassador family and is championing the annual BRIT Challenge to support and improve young adult and student mental health and fitness throughout the UK.

Sue has won hundreds of medals at International and National level and participated in six Paralympic Games – winning a bronze medal in Tokyo 2020. Sue is a Double Commonwealth Gold Medallist, World Silver and double Bronze Medallist in 2017/2014/2006 and has been European Champion in 2005. She has also won two European Silvers and four Bronze Medals. Sue is a twenty three time British Champion.

Sue Bailey MBE - Paralympic, World and Commonwealth medallist

“Having adapted to life with a disability when I was younger, through my own lived experience as Paralympian for over 25 years, as a former student and as Primary School Teacher, I understand that we must do more support young adults, students and elite athletes in order to avoid them facing long-term mental health difficulties.

This is a critical time for young adult and student mental health and I am encouraged that BRIT are determined to support and improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK by delivering their annual BRIT Challenge. It is an awesome achievement that almost 250 university and college teams have taken part in BRIT Challenges over the past three years.

We cannot be complacent in supporting young adult mental health as young people at risk of suicide face waiting times of more than two years to be seen by professionals. NHS data shows that in 2021 there was the highest number of referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) between April and October in two years. Referrals were up by 52 per cent from 2020 to 2021, with almost 400,000 being referred.

The annual BRIT Challenge is a feelgood fundraiser for every university, college, specialist college and Students’ Union to enter teams and encourage student and staff participation. I’m thrilled that the BRIT Challenge is inclusive and enables students and staff of all abilities to take part and work as a team to cover their target distance by either hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling (canoeing, kayaking or paddle-boarding).

I am thrilled to be part of the BRIT Ambassador family to promote the BRIT Challenge, destigmatise mental health and champion equality, diversity and inclusion. I urge my fellow Paralympians to join our BRIT Ambassador family and assist in encouraging universities, colleges and students to take part in the annual BRIT Challenge. I would be delighted to support and encourage students and staff at Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Huddersfield, the University of Leeds, the University of Leicester and Barnsley College, as they take on their BRIT Challenge”.

Sue Bailey MBE

Paralympic, World and Commonwealth medallist and European Champion

Sue Bailey MBE - Paralympic, World and Commonwealth medallist and European Champion

Born in Barnsley, Sue now lives in Dodworth with her two children, Ryan and Lauren, and her partner, Scott Robertson.

Sue started playing able bodied table-tennis at the age of 12, but had to retire at 15 due to having hundreds of dislocations of her patellae initially and then as her disability deteriorated all her joints started to dislocate along with the discovery of her having missing bones in her legs. She was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos, a muscle and ligament degenerative disease along with Fibromyalgia and Myofacial Pain Syndrome. She also has a fused right wrist and limited use of her left shoulder along with balance issues. Sue has been wheelchair bound since she was 18 and started playing table tennis in a wheelchair at 20. She has competed as part of the GB squad for over 25 years and continues to compete and win at the highest level Internationally.

After studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in Maths and Biology at the University of Leicester in 1991/2, Sue went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting and Business Studies from the University of Huddersfield in 1995. In 1997, Sue completed her PGCE in Teaching at Sheffield Hallam University. Sue also completed her Postgraduate Certificate (Masters Level) in Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SENDCO) Coordination at Sheffield Hallam University, along with completing her NPQSL at Leeds Metropolitan University.

As well as being an accomplished athlete, Sue is also a Primary School Teacher and SENDCO at Shawlands Primary School in Barnsley. She is an active, Qualified Coach and Patron of a Disabled Children’s Charity (Rainbow House). Sue is committed and dedicated to combining her teaching, with training at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, training with the GB Performance Squad. Sue trains full-time, whilst still competing and winning medals at the highest level. Sue has given many motivational presentations and carried out workshops in schools and other organisations around the country about disability and sport. Sue also competes in her local, able-bodied table-tennis league in Sheffield, along with playing County Table Tennis for the Able Bodied Senior and Vets South Yorkshire Team where her team has just been promoted to the Premier Division.

Currently, Sue is ranked in the top 13 in the World due to not being able to complete due to Covid but has previously been World Number 1.

Sue was awarded BBC Disabled Sports Personality of the Year for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in 2002 and 2006. Recently, in December 2021, Sue was also awarded the Pride of Barnsley Award for Sporting Achievement. In 2009, Sue was awarded an MBE, and Honorary Doctorate, for the work she does for young people, table tennis, and for her charity work. Sue's main goal is to win another Paralympic medal at her 7th Paralympic Games in France 2024 and to regain her Number 1 World Ranking.

To find out more about Sue and Table Tennis in England, please visit Table Tennis England website.

You can follow Sue on Twitter.


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