By Roger Ingham


THERE may not have been the euphoric celebrations as occurred in Maidenhead and which were highlighted by the lady in the blue dress almost causing and earth tremor after Tom Dean had won the 200 metres freestyle swimming gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. However, there was still plenty of household cheer in Craven, particularly as a result of the modern pentathlon where Kate French - of Embsay and South Craven roots - achieved a glorious gold medal triumph.

I knew Katie’s great grandfather, Wilf Downes, particularly well as he was employed as a plasterer for Merritt and Fryers and worked on the building of the Ermysted’s Memorial Hall when we were at school there in the 1950s.

Kate’s grandmother is Sylvia Downes, an Embsay lass who attended Embsay Primary School and then Brougham Street Secondary Modern School immediately prior to its permanent switch to Aireville. Kate’s grandfather was Colin Faulder, now sadly deceased, from the South Craven locality.

Colin’s employment would eventually take the family to Southampton. However, they never lost sight of their Craven roots and only just before lockdown, accompanied by their daughter Carolyn, who is Katie French’s mother, the family returned to share some conviviality with the Embsay locals who still remembered them.

And, hopefully, next time up they will be accompanied with their gold medal winning family star for good measure.

Five different disciplines embracing fencing, swimming, showjumping, shooting and laser cross country run, Kate’s virtuoso performance was described by one national media correspondent as one of the most outstanding gold medal winning performances of the entire Olympics.

Kate was representing Great Britain - or Great Britain and Northern Ireland to accord it’s full title - and proud of it. Not Team GB as many of today’s ‘in crowd’ yuppies are now seemingly bent upon desecrating our great nation.

Aged 20, Kate completed a degree in sports performance at the University of Bath where she trains at the Pentathlon GB High Performance Centre located at the university. She is currently ranked world number two.

She won team golds at the European Championships in Poland and World Championships in Chinese Taipei in 2013 and two team silvers in Warsaw in 2014. She won a team gold at Bath in 2015.

In 2016 she placed 5th at the Rio Olympic games after a consistent performance, including winning the riding event with a perfect clear round. 2017 saw her win a silver medal at World Cup 1 in Los Angeles and a gold medal at World Cup 2 in Cairo.

She took individual silver in European Championships Hungary in 2018 and team gold in Bath in 2019.