Wakefield Olympian to be honoured with blue plaque outside Stanley school
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Denise was a highly awarded Wakefield athlete who was dubbed the protégé of British Olympian, Dorothy Hyman.
Now she will be commemorated with a shining blue plaque outside her old school, Stanley St Peter’s Primary School.
Her talent was spotted early by the Wakefield school, who sent a letter home to her parents asking if they realised how much potential she had.
As a result, Denise started training with Dorothy in 1960 at the age of just nine.
The current head teacher at Stanley St Peter’s, Michelle Wiggins, said: “We are immensely proud of Denise’s contribution to the world of athletics, and having her legacy permanently represented on our school building is a point of great pride for our entire school community.
"Her accomplishments have served as a constant reminder to our pupils that they too possess the ability to unlock their potential and achieve great success.”
In 1968, Denise won the English Schools Athletic Championships for the 100 yard sprint in a record-breaking 10.7 seconds.
Only a year later, she won a bronze medal in the 100 metres relay for the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Athletic team in the European Athletics Championships in Greece.
The early 1970s soon saw Denise competing at local, national and international level with her leaving her NHS job in 1976 to dedicate her time to training.
That same year, Denise was representing Great Britain at the Montreal Olympics where she became the UK national record holder for the 100m sprint relay.
The blue plaque came about after a relative of Denise contacted Coun Lynn Masterman.
Coun Masterman then applied for her ward community grants scheme to cover the cost, which is £800, and approached Dream Time Creative to make it happen.
Dream Time Creative is a Wakefield arts company behind the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project, which tackles the inequalities surrounding representation of women’s achievements on blue plaques.
Coun Masterman said: “After doing a little research of my own, I felt that Denise was more than worth of a public commemoration.
"A blue plaque is a way of doing this and will mean that her memory will be kept alive within the local community and beyond.
"I hope that the placement of the plaque will inspire women and girls of all ages to follow their dreams and believe that they can achieve great things.”
Denise unfortunately passed away in 2003, but left a legacy which will continue to be celebrated.
Numerous special guests will attend the unveiling, including her daughter Gemma, who will speak about her mum’s legacy.
Gemma said: “There are not enough words to describe how proud we are as a family that my mum’s achievements in athletics and her legacy are being honoured with her name on a blue plaque.
"Anyone who knew my mum would know just how dedicated she was to her sport and how truly deserving she is to be honoured and remembered in this way.
"The unveiling of the plaque will be a very special moment for me and my family.”
The unveiling will take place at at 1pm on Monday, November 6, at Stanley Library and Community Centre.