Chair: Marie Collins (Sailing)

Marie Collins

Marie Eleanor Collins,  MBE.

Our Chair, Marie Collins, has been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire, MBE, in the New Year 2011 Honours List.

This is for recognition of  her voluntary work done, and service to Sport in Milton Keynes.

Profile – I have been keen on sport all my life – at school we had to get buses to sports grounds as there were no facilities at the school – we had a 20 minute walk to get to the swimming pool each week.

When I started work I joined the company netball team where we played at lunchtimes in Lincolns Inn Fields with lots of onlookers from the offices.  I was also playing badminton, swimming and ice skating.   The company where I worked had a men’s rowing team and I was asked if I would start a women’s section but on visiting the boathouse on the Thames was informed by the owner that they did not want to accommodate any more clubs.  I made enquiries of the clubs that were already using the facilities and subsequently joined Alpha Ladies RC.  I remained a member for over 20 years and in that time competed in 4’s/8;s and single sculls.

When I moved to Milton Keynes I joined Bedford Ladies RC where I continued to race and remain a Life Member although I am not now able to get into a boat due to having MS which has progressed over the years.

I am also a keen sailor and have sailed many thousands of miles around the World both in the yacht my husband and I owned and with the MS Spcoety where a 48 foot yacht was hired and which sailed around the coast of England, Scotland and Ireland as well as crossing to the Channel Islands and France.  I have crewed on deliveries for Sunsail and on one occasion we were caught in a Hurricane where the occupants of 4 of the yachts in the flotilla were rescued by the American Navy.

At present I am secretary of Emberton Park Sailing Club where I have my own GP14 dinghy.  Milton Keynes clubs have formed a Champion Clubs consortium where all the clubs run training sessions each month for the younger members and I am responsible for providing refreshments.  A group of these young sailors compete in the Schools National Championships each year and on a couple of occasions have just been beaten into first place by another area by a couple of points.

My main sport at present is swimming where our MS Branch have set up a swim club at Leon School solely for our members.  We have the pool to ourselves for an hour and have been fortunate to receive funding from both the Community Foundation who paid for the provision of a hoist and the MK Rotary Club who funded various items of equipment.  We also took part in the Rotary Club’s Swimathon for the past 3 years and helped to raise funds for them.

The Co-operative Society also funded a set of steps for disabled people.  Swimming is recognized as excellent exercise for MS sufferers and we all feel that we benefit from the hour each week.  I serve on the main MS committee as well as being a Support Officer.

My other interest has been local council and I am a Parish Councilor for New Bradwell where I helped initially to form the Residents Association some 20 years ago and which subsequently became a Parish Council.

I sit on various committees on behalf of Sport Milton Keynes and have been Chairperson for 5 years having served on the committee for over 25 years.