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Proud Sharyn reflects on a life in diving after being honoured by the Queen

When long-serving Cambridge Dive Team volunteer Sharyn Bord received an email saying she was to receive a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, she almost deleted it – thinking it was a hoax.

And even when Sharyn realised it was authentic, she still had to keep it a secret for five months!

“I received an email in May,” said Sharyn, “but I thought it was a scam and nearly binned it.

“When I actually read the details, I was very surprised but delighted and very proud.

“However, I was sworn to secrecy because the awards list announcement was to be delayed in order to recognise the pandemic heroes.

“When I was told I could tell my family, that was when the fun began and I realised how much the honour means to me.

“I have a mixture of feelings. Why have I been honoured for doing something I love and want to do? Why me when there are so many other volunteers who work endlessly for their sport?

“I am very grateful to all the like-minded diving fanatics who have helped me so much over the years.

“People have been so quick with their kind remarks. A constant stream of Facebook messages, emails, phone calls, contact from newspapers and photo shoots have certainly kept me occupied.”

Sharyn has been involved in diving for 57 years after becoming hooked on the sport in 1963 when the Parkside Pool in Cambridge with ‘proper’ diving boards.

After several years as a successful diver, she became volunteer head coach of the diving section at Granta Swimming Club in 1967.

It was a position she continued to hold when the swimming clubs of Cambridge amalgamated in 1985 to become the City of Cambridge SC but Sharyn’s influential work with the club didn’t take place until the turn of the century.

Ambitious plans

She said: “The old Parkside Pool closed for rebuilding in July 1997 and, at that time, the diving section had achieved significant competitive successes.

“The pool closure left Cambridge with no diving facilities and training was confined to a weekly bus trip to Bedford Pool and a weekly session in a ‘dry gym’.

“Parkside Pool opened in May 1999 with 10 club divers still participating. The priority became too rebuild the diving  section and the enhanced diving facilities quickly attracted many new members.

“I had ambitious plans for the future and founded the Cambridge Diving Development Centre in 2001, providing community Learn to Dive lessons for children, which proved to be very popular.

“To take advantage of the fine new facilities and increased water time, I initiated a fundraising programme to provide the finances to facilitate a professional diving programme.

“The final part of my plans came to fruition in 2003 when the club’s first professional full-time coach was appointed and, in 2004, I founded the Cambridge Dive Team to encompass the competitive arm of the centre, allowing divers to compete under the name of their diving club rather than as part of a swimming club.

“I am very proud of the Cambridge Diving Development Centre for its efforts to provide all the community with the opportunity to learn to dive and the Cambridge Dive Team with its notable successes at county, regional, national, international and Olympic events.”

In her 57 years in the sport, there have been many highlights for Sharyn who has been a judge, referee, county diving secretary as well as Cambridge Dive Team’s administrator, treasurer and, now, club president.

But she is quick to recognise the importance of a team effort in making Cambridge a success when asked about her biggest achievement in the sport.

Really proud

“Nothing has been solely down to me,” said Sharyn. “However, I do feel really proud that I achieved my vision of setting up an independent professional diving centre on Cambridge.

“We have retained that independence, expanded our Learn to Dive programme and improved the standard and number of divers competing for the Cambridge Dive Team.

“Our ethos to encourage our coaches to develop with the club and to introduce innovative ideas has worked to everyone’s benefits.”

Diving has played a key part in the life of the Bord family, with one of Sharyn’s two sons being a ‘very good national diver’ while two of her four grandsons have also taken up the sport.

So it is not surprising that she ranks those family successes as part of her highlights over the years – but there is one thing that makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Sharyn, who worked as a research scientist (PhD) in metabolic bone disease with Cambridge University Department of Medicine, said: “Obviously, own family successes are proud moments but there have been many highlights over the years, including when Daniel Goodfellow won an Olympic bronze medal in Rio.

“He had started his diving career in our Learn to Dive, moving into the Dive Team and was a national champion before being called up to the National Performance Centre.

“The main highlight is helping so many divers to achieve their ambitions, from winning a major title to a novice diver trying desperately to conquer their fears and do a simple dive.

“The smile on their face is worth everything.”