Inspirational women lead the way for Herts in Queen’s New Year Honours

Betty Longhurst
Betty Longhurst

A woman with a passion for sport and another who championed children’s mental health services who sadly passed away yesterday feature in the New Year’s Honours List.

Betty Longhurst of Tring has been chairman of the Tring Squash and Rackets Club for 12 years, and despite a back injury currently ruling her out of the court, usually plays three times a week.

Deborah Bone

Deborah Bone

Betty began her sporting career in hockey and previously acted as chair and president of the Berkhamsted Hockey Club. But having friends and a husband who played the lesser-known game of squash spurred her interest, and she has now succeeded in raising both money for and the profile of the sport in Dacorum.

Betty, who also taught PE at Hemel Hempstead’s Mountbatten School (formerly known as Corner Hall School), said of the award: “I have always believed that sport is a wonderful thing. It is a great way to keep fit, it is very sociable and you are part of a team. I would just like everybody to be able to do that.

“Our club is a really special place with between 70 and 80 volunteers. It’s a privilege to be part of it, this award is recognition for the club and sport.”

Under Betty’s stewardship the Tring club has become one of the best-regarded community squash clubs in the country.

She has been the driving force in the increase of membership at the club as well as securing funding from England Squash for junior coaching. Today, it supports a number of junior teams ranging from U9 to U18 and was selected as England Squash Club of the Year for the Eastern Region in 2012. The club went forward to the National final, taking second prize.

Also listed for an honour in 2015 is Deborah Bone, who was due to receive an MBE for her work in children’s mental health services across Herts.

Sadly, Deborah passed away yesterday after a long illness, before her chance to meet the Queen.

Her husband Colin told the Gazette: “She was so excited to have been awarded the MBE – it was an emotional experience because she was so ill.

“Her efforts in identifying poor mental health services led her to design the Step2 programme, which has turned into a great success in Herts.”
Deborah’s Step2 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service provides early specialist support and an outreach service supporting training and giving advice to other services in emotional health and wellbeing first aid.

Deborah, who died aged 51, was also the co-creator of the award-winning Bright Stars which is used nationally in primary schools to improve the emotional and mental health of children.

She also co-developed a system called LAMBSS to understand young people’s problems, and has written 10 guides for parents and children about dealing with mental health problems while in hospital undergoing stem cell transplant.