Grand National winner jockey Bob Champion has been named CBE for his charitable services in prostate and testicular cancer research.
There is also recognition in the New Year’s Honors List for Nick Rust, the outgoing Managing Director of the British Horseracing Authority – who received an OBE for his services to the sport.
The Bob Champion Cancer Trust has raised £ 15million since its inception in 1983, two years after the jockey made a remarkable recovery from cancer to win the world’s biggest steeplechase over Aldaniti at Aintree.
The trust raises funds for the Bob Champion Cancer Research Lab – part of the largest research center dedicated to men in Europe, located at the Institute for Research on Cancer in Sutton – as well as the building of research and education Bob Champion of the University of the East. Anglia in Norwich.
Champion admits he was totally taken aback when he was told he was going to receive this honor.
“I am absolutely blown away to death. It was a big surprise for me,” he said.
“I got an MBE quite a long time ago when I won the National, but it was for my confidence against cancer.
“It’s for everyone who is working and participating in it and for those who have supported it over the years.
“They’ve done so much for me, especially the race, and we have both research labs up and running – and they’re doing a great job. We must continue to raise funds to make them work.
“We’re very fortunate to have top people working in this – and they’re getting results, which is the main thing.”
For all charities, 2020 has been a difficult year to raise funds due to the many constraints of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been a struggle this year – every charity struggles,” added Champion.
“Hopefully this time around next year things can get back to normal.”
Champion recalled how the Cancer Trust came into being, shortly after his and Aldaniti’s famous victory.
“When I won the National a lot of people supported me and they sent their winnings to the Royal Marsden Hospital, take care of me,” he said.
“Nick Embiricos, the owner of Aldaniti, and Professor Peckham, my specialist, thought it would be a good idea to set something up.
“Then a lot more money came in, so we thought we better start being professional. We went from there, and we raised a lot of money.
“This money is going the right way. That’s the bottom line – with the two labs that we have built and managed to produce the goods.
“I hope we will continue to help a lot of people.
“We have raised funds in a number of ways and it is thanks to the people of this country. They are amazing, and it is not just on the racing side.”
Rust, meanwhile, is stepping down as head of the BHA after nearly six years as head of the governing body and race regulator.
During his tenure he dealt with a range of issues – including a significant change in the tax, a review of the buying and selling of horses, improving the welfare of horses, the challenge of l ‘increased diversity and inclusion and, this year of course, a path through the coronavirus pandemic that interrupted the racing schedule for two months in the spring and early summer.