Crayford’s Europa Centre couple receive OBEs

PUBLISHED: 11:48 19 June 2012

Boris Johnson, Hugh Robertson, Teresa O'Neill, Zoe Smith,

Boris Johnson, Hugh Robertson, Teresa O'Neill, Zoe Smith,


Len and Yvonne Arnold, a married couple who run an Olympic training centre in Crayford have both been awarded OBEs in the Queen’s birthday honours.

They officially opened their new centre in Maiden Lane in March and received a letter from Buckingham Palace a month ago stating they might be honoured but did not find out for sure until Saturday (16).

Mrs Arnold, 57, said: “I’m absolutely delighted. I can’t believe this in my wildest dreams and it’s even more special for us to be honoured in the same year, and in an Olympic year at that.

“It was hard not being able to tell anyone about it beforehand.”

Mrs Arnold was the Great Britain gymnastics team captain in the 1972 Munich Olympics and started the Europa Centre in Erith with her husband 20 years ago.

She also trains gymnasts and was instrumental in British medal hopeful Zoe Smith switching from gymnastics to weightlifting.

The couple will find out when they pick up the gongs in the next few weeks and cannot wait to visit Buckingham Palace again having accepted an invitation last month.

Mrs Arnold said: “We went to the Palace to have lunch with the Queen because of our work in the community. I’d be really proud to go again.”

The application was put forward by their daughter Emma and council leader Teresa O’Neill, who attended the opening of the Crayford centre along with London Mayor Boris Johnson and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson.

The centre has benefited from legacy payments to make it into a world class gymnastics training centre. In total, it will receive £1.3 million from the Olympic Delivery Authority, £200,000 from the Mayor’s sports legacy facility fund and £1.24 million in Lottery funding.

It will be used by both Olympic and Paralympic volleyball teams during the Games, meaning the gym will relocate to

the old Erith building in Fraser Road until September.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Bexley Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Bexley Times