Gary Lineker praises Minehead voluntary rugby coach

This is The West Country: FOOTBALL legend and TV personality Gary Lineker had nothing but praise for Minehead’s star rugby coach at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. PHOTO: Dionne Jones. FOOTBALL legend and TV personality Gary Lineker had nothing but praise for Minehead’s star rugby coach at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. PHOTO: Dionne Jones.

ITS all back to normal for volunteer rugby coach Dionne Jones after a whirlwind month following her nomination for BBC Sports Personality Unsung Hero of the Year.

The mum-of-four, from Minehead, was nominated in October by best friend and Women’s England rugby player, Danielle ‘Nollie’ Waterman.

Dionne found out she was the South West regional winner in November and attended Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday to find out if she was the overall winner.

She also appeared on BBC Points West on Friday with some of her rugby students.

She said: “It was so amazing and a bit bizarre, really.

“We had a talk from the boxer Nicola Adams before going to a drinks reception held by the Director of the BBC Sports and then we went to the awards.

“It had such a fantastic atmosphere and all the other unsung heroes were lovely – I made some great friends.”

Dionne said she was not fussed about receiving the award and was shocked to have even got that far.

“I wasn’t there to win the award, for me the best prize was winning the regional award and the evening was my sort of celebration.

“I’m a mum of four kids and from Minehead and I help train a few hundred kids, it’s nothing compared to some of the others.”

Maggie and Joe Forber, from Manchester, who train children in basketball, were given the overall prize.

Dionne, 32, said: “They seemed so confident up on stage but they really were so humble about winning, they deserved it.

"They’ve dedicated their whole lives to helping others.”

She confesses not to be much of a celebrity spotter but did get speaking to Gary Lineker who praised her for her work.

Dionne is now enjoying some time off rugby over the Christmas period and said, while she loved the evening, she was happy to be back home.

She said: “It was fun but I couldn’t do it all again, say, next weekend.

“I’m glad to be back with my children and we’ve been enjoying relaxing and watching Christmas films in our pyjamas – this is more my thing.”

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