Notre Dame staff cheered at the news of an MBE awarded to ex-student Claire O’Hara.
Claire attended Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School before studying at Notre Dame, then progressing to Leeds Metropolitan University (now Leeds Beckett University) where she obtained a BA Honours degree in Sport and Recreation Development.
Claire started kayaking with Leeds Canoe Club in 1996 and continued with the sport throughout her time at college. While studying at Leeds Metropolitan University, she was captain of the Kayak Club, and in 2003 received a Carnegie Sports Scholarship in recognition of her talents and dedication. By that point, she had already started kayaking at a competitive level, and made the British Freestyle Kayak Team in 2006.
Since then, Claire’s international kayaking career has gone from strength to strength. As it states on her website, ‘Clare is the most successful female freestyle paddler of all time, winning a combined eight World Championships! She has paddled all across the UK and Europe and in the USA, Canada, Norway, Uganda, New Zealand, Australia and Nepal. Claire is the current World Champion in Freestyle Kayak and Squirt Boat Kayak and holds the world record for the highest competitive female scores in both disciplines of the sport.’
From 2009, while competing with the British Freestyle Kayak Team, Claire squeezed in a part-time role as the Enhancement Coordinator at Notre Dame, a post that she held for 4 years.
Her website states that: ‘Through her achievements Claire is keen to motivate other young people to stay active, follow their goals and dreams, and strive to be the best they can be.’ When news of her MBE, awarded for ‘services to canoeing’, was announced during a staff briefing at the start of January 2019, a spontaneous round of applause rang out across the staff room. We’d like to congratulate Claire and wish her all the best: we couldn’t be more pleased for her.
To find out more about Claire, please visit her website: http://www.claireohara.co.uk/index.html