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News Archive > General > Rugby hero honoured for putting others first

Rugby hero honoured for putting others first

By Kirstie Newton 6th January 2021

Rugby hero honoured for putting others first

Truro-born John Hambly has been made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to people with disabilities in Surrey and the Home Counties.

A retired chartered building surveyor, John now lives in Milford in Surrey, and in 1992 founded the Guildford-based Samson Centre for Multiple Sclerosis. He served as chairman
of the Samson Centre Project from 2003 until 2009, and in 2020 published his autobiography, Samson Rising, which sold well in the run-up to Christmas.

“I’m chuffed to bits,” he said. “It has been such a shot in the arm for me at a time when the whole situation is so depressing, and has given me the spark to build on for 2021.”

Like most people, John learned of the accolade at the beginning of December. “I was sworn to secrecy, and just as I was in a position to tell people, after Christmas I caught a bug that completely pole-axed me – with my MS not being so good either, it left me incapacitated until this week,” he said.

“My daughter posted an announcement on Facebook, resulting in so many lovely messages from people, to which I’m responding slowly.”

Mr Hambly was a keen rugby player and coach until his diagnosis. Last year, his achievements were celebrated at the inaugural Sport Gives Back Awards in the presence
of sporting legends including Lord Coe and Daley Thompson, and in 2021, he will be at
the forefront of a campaign looking into early-onset dementia in sports people.

Alan Milliner, the Rugby Football Union’s council member for Cornwall and a board member of the Cornwall Rugby Football Union, has been John’s friend, both on and off the pitch, for 35 years.

“He’s a wonderful person, and a stalwart of the game,” he said. “This award is much deserved, and as a friend I’m so proud of what he has achieved, through his own efforts
and with the support of his family.”

John and Alan struck up a friendship when playing at Truro Rugby Club. “After John moved to London, I was captain of Truro and took the side up to play his team, the Old Actonians,” Alan recalls. “Our friendship continued in this way, and I followed his progress; when Samson Rising
was published, I used my position in the RFU in Truro and Cornwall to help promote it.

As a result, it has been read across the world – I know people in New Zealand who have picked up a copy.”

Samson Rising can be purchased in Waterstones Truro and via Amazon

By Kirstie Newton 6th January 2021

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