Sir Denis' daughter Maggie at the Awards
On Tuesday 7 June we were tremendously proud to posthumously induct Sir Denis Follows CBE into our University of Nottingham Sport Hall of Fame. Sir Denis was honoured at our annual Sporting Excellence Awards – our end of year celebration of our athlete’s achievements this season. It was a great pleasure to be able to host Sir Denis’ family at the event with Denis’ daughter Margaret Ferris - another former University of Nottingham student - accepting the award on the evening, whilst many members of the Lost Lionesses were also in attendance. Both shared their memories of Sir Denis and recounted their stories of the impact Follows had.
During his time at the University of Nottingham, Follows had already begun to display the makings of a great leader, when he was elected as President of the National Union of Students, serving between 1931 and 1933.
Maggie told us that “sport was always part of our lives. His time as president gave him a chance to use his abilities in a way other than his English studies – he was always encouraging other people to diversify their interests, not just to remain single minded.” You can listen to more from Maggie here.
Sir Denis was a pioneer throughout his life in sport. In his role as the Secretary of the FA between 1962 and 1975; the oldest football association in the world, Sir Denis was jointly responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game. Passionate about equality in sport, Follows is perhaps best known for sending the letter from the FA to the Women’s Football Association in 1970/71 rescinding the ban on women’s football which had been in place since the early 1920s. This opened a pathway for the women’s game to grow into what it is today, a move which later saw him appointed honorary life vice-president of the Women’s Football Association.
Affirming his legacy as one of the UK’s most influential sports administrators, Sir Denis also served as Chairman of the British Olympic Association (BOA). Lord Sebastian Coe, who won 1500m gold in Moscow personally thanked Follows, saying that if he hadn't been able to compete at the games in Moscow without Follows’ support, he wouldn't have gone on to be the athlete he did, nor would London have been awarded the 2012 Olympic Games.
We are delighted to have been able to celebrate Sir Denis Follows achievements in the sporting world and are hugely proud of the lasting legacy his work has had, with the upcoming women’s European Championships a mark of how Sir Denis’ actions have helped progress women’s football. We thank Maggie and the Lost Lionesses for joining us at our Sporting Excellence Awards, providing special insight and contributing hugely to a fantastic evening.
You can read more about Sir Denis Follows CBE and our Hall of Fame here.
Members of the Lost Lionesses with current University of Nottingham Women's Football players Naomi Bedeau and Sarah Woodbyrne, and head coach Jake Poole.
Posted on Friday 10th June 2022