‘A lovely surprise’: Northampton trampoline coach receives MBE from Prince William
and live on Freeview channel 276
Tracy Whittaker-Smith was awarded with the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2022 in recognition of four decades of commitment to trampolining, which she first took part in at Northampton School for Girls (NSG).
She was presented with the award at the Royal Investiture Ceremony at Windsor Castle on Wednesday, February 1.
Tracy said: “I was so honoured to receive my MBE from the Prince of Wales alongside those I love the most. The whole day was a truly incredible experience and something I will cherish forever.
“It was particularly poignant driving up the Long Walk towards Windsor Castle and that’s when the magnitude of the day really kicked in, my family and I were silent in the car just taking everything in.”
She added: “You don’t get told in advance who is presenting the awards so, to find out that it was Prince William on arrival, was really special and a lovely surprise.”
Tracey helped to develop Moulton Park based Northamptonshire Trampoline Gymnastics Academy to become one of the most successful clubs in the country, where she was also integral to building the UK’s first dedicated trampoline facility.
The club attracts 1,000 weekly members of all ages and abilities and has special provisions for people with disabilities.
Tracy said the academy “changed the landscape of the sport in Great Britain” by having recreational members all the way to elite athletes, with the centre also used by Great Britain athletes and international teams.
Tracy has represented Great Britain at five Olympic Games, overseeing two medals for Team GB and is now performance director at British Gymnastics.
The Duston woman described The Prince of Wales as “charming and genuine” as he took his time to talk warmly to all of the MBE recipients in the ceremonial room.
“He said this was the first ever ‘services to Trampolining’ award he had presented which made me feel even more privileged,” Tracy said.
She continued: “He was interested to learn about the work I had done over the 40 plus years locally in Northampton and also in my national roles.
“He then said that his daughter, Princess Charlotte, loves Trampolining and that she will be thrilled when he tells her that he’d met me.”
Tracy received her MBE in what proved to be Her Majesty The Queen’s final Birthday Honours, which she said made the day even more significant.
Reflecting on the surreal experience, Tracy added: “I’m still trying to take it all in and bowled over to have been nominated in the first place. It was the club that nominated me and this MBE is for them and all the great people that have supported me for many years, including family and friends, coaches, athletes, leaders and support staff.
“I have always followed my passion and, if I can inspire others in the same way that I was inspired to know the lasting positive impact you can have on people's lives as a coach in sport, that would be fantastic.”