Bangor woman who helped gymnastic abuse victims



By Sarah Curran

A BANGOR woman said she feels ‘incredibly proud’ to have been named on the King’s Birthday Honours list.

Elaine Hunniford has been recognised with a MBE for her services to young people and to safeguarding in sport.

The 32 year-old, who hails from Somerset in England, works as an athlete support manager for the British Elite Athletes Association (BEAA) and is currently its head of safeguarding.

In 2021 Elaine was seconded to the BEAA to lead the support team established to offer end-to-end case management for children, families and elite athletes affected by allegations of mistreatment in gymnastics.

In this role Elaine helped to ensure support for over 280 survivors and their families, and played a significant part in leading the BEAA’s engagement with the Whyte Review – an independent review into allegations of abuse in gymnastics. 

Survivors highlighted the impact the review had on them, saying it was ‘a relief to be understood’ and ‘the BEAA immediately believed us’.

Elaine’s experience and expertise of trauma-informed care played an enormous part in this. 

Her career began as a social worker and senior social worker in her native south-west England before she took on a team manager role at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 2019.

Commenting on the award, Elaine said:  “I am immensely honoured – and feel incredibly proud – that my work has been recognised in this way.

“It always has been and continues to be the greatest privilege that individuals feel able to share their experiences with me and trust me and my decision making to do the right thing.

“This nomination is a testament to the work of all my employers and colleagues past and present who, like myself, remain committed to ensuring anyone in need of safeguarding is supported to the highest possible standards.”

She added: “I am immensely humbled because I love the work that I do and for me to be recognised for doing it is an exceptional honour.”

Talking about her work with Whyte Review, she explained: “I was seconded from my work at the NSPCC to the BEAA to manage a small team of individuals and what we did was support any individual families that had experienced abuse within gymnastics.

“We wanted them to give their disclosure and their evidence to the independent review and then provided ongoing support and therapeutic intervention.”

Now head of safeguarding for the BEAA, Elaine works across Olympic and Paralympic sports, providing one-to-one athlete support in areas including, safeguarding, welfare, mental health and more.

She continued: “It is always a privilege to do the work that I do and it is always worth it – I don’t need any recognition. But this has been an incredible nod to my colleagues and I to be recognised for work that isn’t always very glamourous.”

Elaine thanked her colleagues, previous employers, saying she wanted to share her award with them.

BEAA CEO Anna Watkins said: “Elaine is a huge asset to the BEAA and elite sport within Britain, working tirelessly to promote athlete welfare and best practice across the system.

“Her previous roles demonstrate her passion for and knowledge about safeguarding and she is a hugely deserving recipient of recognition – although I’m sure she’d be the last person to acknowledge that about herself!

“I’d like to congratulate and thank her on behalf of the whole BEAA and all those she has supported during her career.”