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New Year's Honours: Britain's longest serving figure skating judge from Holland Park awarded British Empire Medal

Vanessa Riley has been a figure skating judge for 45 years

Vanessa Riley (left) has been awarded an British Empire Medal which is approved by The Queen (right)

Britain's longest serving figure skating judge, who has never lived more than two miles from Marble Arch, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM).

Vanessa Riley laced up her first pair of ice skates at just five-years-old at an ice rink in Queensway back in the 1950s.

Living in Marylebone at the time, she fell in love with the sport before moving to Maida Vale and then Holland Park, where she has lived for the last 47 years.

Her amateur career finished in her early 20s, but she went on to become Britain's longest serving figure skating judge.

At 69-years-old, she will have to retire next year due to the sport's rules but still Mrs Riley wakes up at 4am during some weekdays to judge skating around the UK.

Vanessa Riley is Britain's longest serving figure skating judge

Commenting on why she loves judging the sport, she said: "I think it is the beauty, the grace and the beautiful movements to me.

"It is like ballet. With beautiful music as well it is quite emotional, people become very emotional.

"It was towards the end of November I got a letter (for the BEM) and my reaction was this letter was a lovely surprise.

"I was not expecting it, it was a real shock."

After hanging up her skates in amateur figure skating, Mrs Riley went on to work at St Mary's Hospital as a receptionist.

She then worked privately as a beauty therapist, freeing up more time to judge figure skating.

Mrs Riley said the highlights of her career includes World Championships, European Championships and the Albertville 1992 Winter Olympics.

She added: "Everyone wants to judge in the Olympic Games.

"I have always been privileged to sit in the best seat in the house."

In 1980, she became the first judge from Britain to pass the International Skating Union judges examination, enabling her to to judge European, World and Olympic championships.

Another west London named in the honours list is Seamus Oates, CEO of the TBAP Multi-Academy Trust, which has academies in Hammersmith and Fulham, who has been appointed a CBE.

Seamus Oats appointed CBE in 2017 Honours List

He said: “To be honoured at a national level for my contribution to education services is a privilege.

"When I began teaching over 30 years ago, I wanted to share my passion for learning and education with young people regardless of their background or difficulties.

"Increasingly, I became aware of the challenges faced by some of our most vulnerable learners, which led to my work in Pupil Referral Units in Hammersmith and Fulham.

"The resulting progress and improvements at the Bridge AP Academy inspired me to create the TBAP Multi-Academy Trust, to extend the delivery of Alternative Provision education for learners experiencing difficulty with mainstream schools.

"I am grateful to have the support and encouragement of all the TBAP staff and learners.

"This award honours their enthusiasm, dedication and determination to succeed.

"Their hard work ensures that every young person reaches their full potential and this continues to inspire me each and every day.”

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