For those who don’t know, a few weeks ago the parkrun founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt, was awarded a CBE by Her Majesty the Queen in the birthday honours list. I can’t think of a more worthy recipient for such an accolade and wanted to use this week’s junior parkrun Newsletter to celebrate this outstanding achievement and congratulate Paul, both personally and on behalf of the whole junior parkrun team.
Paul is a total visionary and the reason that parkrun exists. It was he who singlehandedly decided to create an easy-to-organise community event that would be open to all and most importantly would be free of charge. "Make it simple, make it free" was his motto. From the first event in Bushy Park in October 2004 has grown the innovative and unique running phenomenon that is parkrun.
Paul’s unwavering passion, hard work, determination and courage are the reason each and every one of us has the opportunity to run in 300 or so events around the UK, and across the world – for free, every single week. He is the reason that so many people have experienced the joys of volunteering, have been able to try something new, make new friends or feel like part of a community. Paul is the reason, too, that junior parkrun exists. He, together with Tom Williams, were the ones who entrusted me with developing the events – believing in the power of running and sport to make a difference in the lives of children and their families.
Despite setbacks, hurdles, challenges and challengers over the past 10 years Paul has stayed true and absolutely committed to his vision. A true philanthropist who has devoted himself, selflessly and tirelessly to a cause he believes in. It is not an exaggeration to say that, as a result, he has created the biggest running movement in the world, and one that really does change lives.
I know we will look back a decade from now at the further growth of the junior series, as well as the regular 5km events – but I hope we never lose sight of who planted and nurtured that very first acorn.
Of course, Paul is the first to acknowledge the help he receives from the parkrun staff and the huge army of volunteers but Paul, without you none of this would have happened. I, the junior parkrun team and the whole parkrun family are so grateful for all you have done, and are so proud and pleased to now be able to call you a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
No one is more deserving of this Honour.