'Just beautiful' sports men and women in the North West pay tribute to the Queen

Sports men and women across the North West have hailed Her Majesty the Queen, with one describing the monarch as 'just beautiful'.

The Queen was present for some of the biggest sporting moments in the North West.

Some of those moments included:

  • Attending the Grand National at Aintree as a Princess in 1950

  • Presenting Blackpool with the FA Cup trophy in the Stanley Matthews Final of in 1953

  • The opening of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002

The Queen would also recognise the achievements of the UK's greatest sports men and women through her Honours list.


One of those to be honoured was Macclesfield's visually impaired skier Menna Fitzpatrick. As Great Britain's most decorated Winter Paralympian she was given an MBE in 2018.

Menna said: "To be honoured by the Queen was absolutely amazing for me. She was such an incredible woman.

"When I actually was receiving my MBE I think my hair was in the way. She couldn't quite find the little pin to stick it on so we were giggling about how my hair was in the way and how she had a daughter so she knew what was going on.

"So it was really nice and I was so happy to be honoured by her. She definitely was inspirational for all women.

"To be able to do what she did throughout her life, she kept going she never stopped and that's the inspirational thing about her."

Horse racing

There was one sport above all others that was the Queen's passion and that was horse racing.

Race horse owner Marwan Koukash, from St Helens, was invited into the Royal Box at Ascot in 2012.

Marwan said: "The majority of people who were in box were her family. The only commoners were me and Mandy.

"When she entered the room the first people to greet her were her Grandchildren so that put me at ease because they curtsied and then ran over and gave her this big hug.

"It was lovely, she was just a granny. I'll always remember this lovely smell and this lovely tiny old lady with not a hair out of place, her make up was perfect, she was just beautiful.

"She gave me the winner of the first race but I didn't listen to her unfortunately. But you could see that although it wasn't her horse that won she was delighted with herself that she knew who the winner was going to be."

Rugby league

The Queen met thousands more sports men and women during official engagements.

One of those was rugby league legend Alex Murphy, from St Helens, who received his OBE from the Queen in 1998.

Alex said: "I didn't believe it. I thought there was somebody just taking the mickey.

"I cannot believe that the Queen is going to present me with a medal. You're so happy and excited you don't know what's going to happen and you definitely don't want to be the one to make a mistake.

"When my fingers touched her fingers it was like having something go straight through your body it was magnificent."

Alex played and coached most of our top rugby league sides. Known as Murphy the Mouth, he was famous for his way with words, but when it came to meeting the Queen he was on his best behaviour.

Alex said: "She said 'have I presented you with a cup at Wembley?' I said no mam, your mother. She said 'why not me?'

"I said because you were too little bit late. And she actually had a grin about it. I had a bit of fear there which is unusual for me but I've never been as proud.

"She was the best thing that ever happened to me. What she's done in her life I'm so proud to be a little part of it."

Alex along with Marwan, Mandy and Menna are just four of many from the North West sporting world all with special memories of meeting Her Majesty.

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