Judo guru Rick awarded OBE for 57 years’ service

Galashiels Community Council vice-chairman Rick Kenney says the most difficult thing about being awarded the OBE is keeping quiet about it.

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 11:41 am
Rick Kenney of Galashiels has been awarded the OBE for services to judo.
Rick Kenney of Galashiels has been awarded the OBE for services to judo.

Rick, who is 68, receives his award for services to judo.

And, with 57 years of fantastic service under his 7th dan belt, there’s not many who will want to question it.

He told us: “This is undoubtedly a great honour, but trying to not let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, has been very difficult.

“My wife Helen and I haven’t said anything to anyone, and it’s been terrible being in Zoom meetings, and folk saying to you ‘ You’ve been in this game a while, it’s about time you were getting something’ and I couldn’t tell them.

“It is a nice surprise. Since I started judo at the age of 11, I’ve managed to travel all over the world, through participation, coaching and on the organisation side, and the sport has been very good to me.

“This award is great for the sport, and will help to keep it up there as a core sport.”

Currently president of the Commonwealth Judo Association, he was instrumental in the martial art becoming a core sport in the Commonwealth Games, which means it will appear at all upcoming games.

He’s worked tirelessly and passionately for his sport at an international, UK, Scottish and local level, running clubs at his home town of Motherwell, as well as Blantyre and Edinburgh Meadowbank.

He’s competed and won medals for both Scotland and the UK, and has coached at the highest levels. However, it’s his work behind the scenes where perhaps his greatest achievements have been made.

During Rick’s time as chair of Judo Scotland, he was a tenacious and persuasive advocate for his sport and he oversaw it becoming a core sport of the Scottish Institute of Sport and a SportScotland Priority 1 sport.

He also guided the rebranding of the governing body as Judo Scotland and helped set up the National Judo Academy at Ratho.

And he was also British Judo team manager at World and European championships in the early 1980s and was vice-chair of the British Judo Association from 1997 to 2004.

Since moving to the Borders with Helen in 2003, Rick has thrown himself into local sports associations, and he set up the Athlete Support Programme (ASP) and the Borders Elite Swim Team (BEST) programmes which has assisted a number of athletes to success at Scottish, UK and international level.

He is still involved with these groups today and has become chair of ClubSport Borders, the umbrella body which assists voluntary sports clubs and individuals across the Borders.

He was the Live Borders Service to Sport Award winner in 2018 and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for services to sport in Scotland, UK and the Commonwealth by SEMSA (Scottish Ethnic Minority Sports Association.