IT was a memorable year in 2012, and no more so than for Deb Criddle, who ended the year in style after being included in The Queen’s New Year Honours List.
Para-dressage star Deb, 46, picked up one gold and two silver medals at the London Paralympic Games this summer on her mount LJT Akilles, taking her total medal tally to four golds and two silvers from the three Games in which she has competed.
Deb competes in the Grade III classification after she lost the use of her arm and leg in a motorbike accident in 1985, and had her arm amputated in 2003.
Speaking from her Trull home, Deb said the news of her MBE came around a month ago and was a complete surprise.
She said: “I was really surprised because somebody has to put you forward and I was very pleased because I didn’t expect it.
“Even though I’d been in the Paralympics with the team it was a complete shock to be included in the New Year Honours list.
“I’m surprised so many people from the Olympics and Paralympics were honoured, but I think they just didn’t want to miss anyone out.
“It was nice to see so many of the people behind the scenes get recognised, too.
“I received a letter and it said MBE next to my name, and I thought ‘that doesn’t look quite right!’.”
Deb also attended the Sports Personality of the Year Awards last month and appeared on stage with the highly successful para-dressage team, who retained their number one position on home soil this summer.
Deb said: “To be invited to the awards was a total surprise as well, and it was such a great evening – everywhere you looked there were so many sporting greats.
“There have been so many highlights this year for me, but the best moment would be standing on the podium after we won and retained the team gold with all the pressures of the home games, and we produced the goods.”