A long-serving netball coach and official has been honoured for services to the sport and the community in Cornwall.  

Redruth’s Jean Davies, chair and coach of Saints Netball Cornwall, has been awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire.

Jean has been coaching the sport for more than 40 years and was crowned the England Netball coach of the year in 2010 for her outstanding contribution to development at Saints Netball Cornwall. 

On being named in the New Year Honours list, Jean said: “Obviously, I’m very thrilled and it was totally unexpected. When you receive a letter in the post which says the Cabinet Office you feel there’s something the matter, so you wonder what you’ve done, so it was a great surprise to see a brilliant thing like that.” 

Earlier this year, she was handed a Netball South West honorary life member award, and in 2020 became an honorary life member of England Netball for being an outstanding ambassador for the sport.  

The former England coach is now a chair of Roses Academy under-17 and under-19 teams and helps with selecting talented players that get into the national programme.   

Talking about her first steps into netball, Jean said: “Like most kids I started playing netball at school and then when I moved to Cornwall from Cheshire, I got involved with Cornwall netball and started playing for the county. Some of my colleagues were playing for St Austell and they were a good team, so I joined them in 1979.”   

She has been coaching with the Saints since 1980 when at the time, also working as an art teacher. 

“I was doing a lot of coaching outside the Duchy including England U17 and U19s and I had the opportunity to move the club to Truro College because I was now going to oversee the netball academy there,” she said.  “At that time, we had a lot of girls representing England at youth level. As a club we’ve been very successful, and it’s not just a one-man show, we’ve got lots of lovely coaches and amazing parents that do a lot of work.” 

Saints Netball Cornwall have six senior teams and junior teams across all age groups from U11s to U16s and has been one of the most successful clubs in the county for the past 40 years. 

Jean has also helped set up Cornwall Netball’s performance pathway which is now part of the Team Bath programme and Superleague franchise. Many talented players that she has coached have been given the chance to represent Team Bath as an U15, 17 or 19 player.  

Her life-long dedication to the sport has seen her serve as a player, coach and a mentor to players and coaches throughout her career, with terrific leadership skills and a focus on player development.  

“The best thing about a team sport is about the people you meet,” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world, but when you come down to it it’s about the people you are with. The young players who love netball that come into your club at one end go on to come out the other end as a more-rounded person.” 

Just over 10 years ago Jean volunteered as a lead coach in Ethiopia, empowering people to play netball while helping the development of the sport in the east African country.