ELLIE SIMMONDS’ 100-metre swimming gold medal at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 reduced one Cirencester resident, Charles Reed, to tears.

It was Reed who, three years earlier in his role as a board member of the national charity Activity Alliance, had presented Simmonds with a bursary so that she could focus on her sporting ambitions.

Last week Reed was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for his work with the charity which enables organisations to support disabled people to become active and stay active for life. 

He stepped down from the post in October. 

“I remember the first bursary I ever gave out was up in Sheffield to Ellie Simmonds and three years later she won two swimming gold medals in Beijing,” said Reed.

“I was driving at the time and I could not get to a TV, but I pulled the car over and I was in tears as I listened on the radio to Ellie winning the 100m freestyle.

“Four years later London hosted the Paralympics and it was my proudest moment that 25 per cent of the GB team had come through our programmes.”

Charles has always been keen on sport and it was during his corporate life with the Nationwide Building Society that he became much more involved.

“We put some money into an events programme for disabled sport and I immediately got engaged with it and became passionate about it,” he said.

On his retirement, he began giving a huge amount of his time to Activity Alliance, then known as the English Federation of Disability Sport or EFDS.

He started off as a fund-raiser, then a volunteer, before joining the board, succeeding 11-time Paralympic gold medalist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as chair in 2011.

Reed added: “That led to my joining other boards including Sport England and the London Marathon Charitable Trust which gave me the platform to become a committed and passionate advocate for equality of opportunity in sport and active recreation.

“It’s difficult as there are so many different impairment groups that need to be catered for, but that is where Activity Alliance comes in. 

“We make disabled organisations aware of the opportunities there are, as well as providing the support and expertise to help officials of sports clubs and organisations make their sport more inclusive.

“The whole thrust of Activity Alliance is to see the person not the disability.

“With Sport England I could make the case for disabled people to be considered for their investments; similarly with the London Marathon Charitable Trust. 

“And, more locally, for a few years I was on the board of Active Gloucestershire the County Sports Partnership, the county’s sport partner, and I chaired an Employability Board for sports students at Cirencester Sixth Form College.

“Of course, the London Paralympics created numerous role models, but it is not just about elite sportsmen and women. 

“Our real purpose is to help at grass roots level and to see people of all disabilities being supported in becoming more active for life.”

As for his own sporting prowess, Charles’ finest hour on the fairways of the Cirencester Golf Club, where he has been a long-time member, came in winning the Plate competition of the Winter Fourball League in 2004 with his great friend John Parsons.

They beat Brian Pfleger & Barry Downer at the 21st hole after a great match. 

Parsons said: “Charles is a good friend, a polite and respectful club member and has a great sense of humour.

“Now he has more time on his hands he hopes to improve his golf handicap this year and will do so, I am sure.

“He will also be able to indulge in another of his hobbies, steam railways and model engineering."

Charles is married to Libby who recently retired as a vice principal at Cirencester Sixth Form College and they live in Cirencester.