The volunteer director of Deerness Gymnastics Academy took a trip to Buckingham Palace last week to receive his MBE for services to gymnastics.
Karl Wharton was honoured in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List last year and has now received his MBE from HRH The Prince of Wales
The honours list recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the UK. Hundreds of ordinary people are recognised alongside stars of sport and showbusiness for their contribution to public life in the UK.
Karl Wharton has received the honour in recognition of his outstanding service to gymnastics, in particular, the success of Deerness Gymnastics Academy and also his role on the Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG) Acrobatic Gymnastics Technical Committee.
Karl Wharton said: “The whole occasion was something I will never forget. From arriving at Buckingham Palace and seeing the crowds of tourists outside to waiting in the ceremony and then receiving the honour from Prince Charles. It is a memory I will always treasure and it was great to be able to share the moment with those closest to me.
“I have a great passion and love for the sport and this is a very great honour and one I have never dreamed of receiving. “The sport of acrobatic gymnastics has developed greatly over the past few years and it has been a privilege to have been part of this development and success at a local, national and international level.
“This honour is not only for me but more so for the hundreds of volunteers, gymnasts, coaches, parents and supporters of Deerness Gymnastics Academy who have worked so hard at keeping the club open and also helping develop happy, healthy and confident children whose life opportunities and choices have been expanded because of their involvement in gymnastics.”
Karl is a full-time senior lecturer and programme leader at Northumbria University but in his own time he is the volunteer director of Deerness Gymnastics Academy and oversees the day to day running of the club, which specialises in acrobatic and tumbling disciplines of gymnastics. Every week, over 800 people use the community facility, which offers daily gymnastics classes to all ages from baby gym and recreational sessions to club, elite and adult level.
Five years ago the club faced uncertainty due to the closure of its training base, a council run leisure centre, where the club had been based since 2002. Rather than let the club close as there were no other suitable facilities in the area, Karl galvanised support from gymnasts and their families, the national governing body and local councillors to take over the building and create Deerness Gymnastics Academy. The club is now a not-for-profit organisation which has charitable status.
Karl has inspired, coached and developed hundreds of gymnasts, over 100 have represented Great Britain, over 80 winning medals and produced fifteen World and European champions. But it’s not only medals that the club has produced but also helped to develop happy, healthy and confident children whose life opportunities and choices have been expanded because of their involvement in gymnastics.
Karl Wharton is a much respected International Coach, Judge and Administrator. Karl has also served on the sport’s international governing body FIG, the International Federation of Gymnastics since 2009, ensuring that Great Britain has representation and influence at the highest levels in the sport.
He has been a national coach with British Gymnastics and continues to coach gymnasts, mentor, tutor coaches and judge at regional, national and international competitions.
He currently works as a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for the Undergraduate (BSc Hons) Sport Coaching degree at the University of Northumbria.