Wells-born Elaine Hunniford has been awarded an MBE in the King's Birthday Honours List for safeguarding work.

She has been recognised for services to young people and safeguarding in sport.

Hunniford, nee Francis, has spent her career advancing welfare in various roles that span the social, charity and sporting sectors, and is currently the British Elite Athletes Association (BEAA)’s Head of Safeguarding.

In 2021 she was seconded to the BEAA to lead the support team established to offer end-to-end case management for children, families and elite athletes affected by allegations of mistreatment in gymnastics. In this role she helped to ensure support for over 280 survivors and their families, and played a significant part in leading the BEAA’s engagement with the subsequent Whyte Review.

The impact of this work was highlighted by the anonymised feedback of survivors, who said “it was a relief to be understood,” “this was the first time I’d ever had my gymnastics experiences … spoken about compassionately,” and “the BEAA immediately believed us.” Elaine’s experience and expertise of trauma-informed care played an enormous part in this.

Hunniford’s career began as a social worker and senior social worker before she took on a team manager role at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 2019. She joined the Welsh Triathlon Board as Director of Safeguarding and Child Protection in 2023.

Commenting on the award, Hunniford said: “I am immensely honoured – and feel incredibly proud – that my work has been recognised in this way. It always has been and continues to be the greatest privilege that individuals feel able to share their experiences with me and trust me and my decision making to do the right thing. This nomination is a testament to the work of all my employers and colleagues past and present who, like myself, remain committed to ensuring anyone in need of safeguarding is supported to the highest possible standards.”

BEAA CEO Anna Watkins said: “Elaine is a huge asset to the BEAA and elite sport within Britain, working tirelessly to promote athlete welfare and best practice across the system. Her previous roles demonstrate her passion for and knowledge about safeguarding and she is a hugely deserving recipient of recognition – although I’m sure she’d be the last person to acknowledge that about herself! I’d like to congratulate and thank her on behalf of the whole BEAA and all those she has supported during her career.”