Special Olympics GB's Kiera Byland recognised in Queens Birthday Honours

We are absolutely delighted that Special Olympics GB’s Board Member, Athlete Leader and double triple World gold medal cyclist Kiera Byland has been recognised as part of this year’s Queens Birthday Honours and awarded a British Empire Medal for her services to sport.

Before joining Special Olympics GB at the age of 16, Kiera’s intellectual disability was a significant barrier to allowing her to enjoy her life and strive for personal goals. Kiera was bullied at school which resulted in self-harming, loneliness and a damaging lack of confidence. Kiera’s life has been turned around by her involvement with Special Olympics GB. Her participation in regular training and sporting competitions has helped her to find her voice and learn both personal and professional skills.

Since joining Special Olympics GB, Kiera has received a wide range of awards and accolades including, most recently, a special judges award at the 2020 Northern Power Women Awards which was announced in March this year.  In 2019 Kiera achieved a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Sport from Bolton College and in 2020 received a distinction for her BTEC Level 2 in Business Enterprise. She is now studying for a BTEC Level 3 Marketing in Business.

Kiera, based in Bolton, now regularly delivers inspiring talks to Special Olympics Corporate Partners, Universities, schools and at Head Teachers’ Conferences.  Kiera became a Special Olympics GB Board member in the summer of 2020.

On receiving the award, Kiera Byland said: “I feel really excited to have received this huge honour.  It means a lot because the person who nominated me was tragically killed last year.  She was called Gay Wharton and she was the former Mayoress of Bolton.  She was my friend and we worked together a lot.  So it felt sad because I wanted to share the news with her.  But I'm ecstatic to receive the award.  It's a huge achievement and I can't wait for people to see and hear the news.  It just goes to show that even if you're not good at academia, you can still achieve amazing things in your life.  It also shows what young people can do and that they can be positive role models in society.”

Michelle Carney, CEO of Special Olympics GB said: “I am bursting with pride for Kiera, who thoroughly deserves this recognition in the Queens Birthday Honours.

“Kiera is a powerhouse and an incredible young woman who continue to smash boundaries on and off the track. She is a powerful advocate for Special Olympics GB and all our wonderful athletes. She demonstrates what is possible with the right support and opportunities.

“Kiera wears many hats and besides being a top athlete with six Gold world medals under her belt, she sits on our Athlete Leadership Team, is a Trustee on our Board of Directors and represents SOGB wonderfully at international level.

“Ultimately Kiera is a kind, generous and thoughtful young woman. A terrific leader and an all-round wonderful person.

“This award gives us hope that our work at Special Olympics GB is starting to be recognised, and through our athletes we can really start to change societal perceptions of intellectual disability and the role Special Olympics can play in transforming lives through sport. This is Special Olympics Great Britain. This is Inclusion in Action.”

A full biography of Kiera Byland can be found here.