Children with special educational needs from West Suffolk competed in a special Primary Panathlon on Friday to mark the sixth anniversary of the death of Emma Holloway.

Emma, who played for AFC Sudbury Ladies and coached disabled children, died in a road accident in 2010. In her memory her parents set up the Emma Holloway Foundation to support disability sport in Suffolk.

The Foundation joined forces with Panathlon to stage Friday’s event at Emma’s old school, King Edward VI, in Bury St Edmunds.

Six teams from schools in Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Sudbury took part. A team combining pupils from St Gregory CEVC Primary School in Sudbury and St Edmund’s Catholic Primary were crowned winners.

A pupil from Chilton Community Primary School in Stowmarket
A pupil from Chilton Community Primary School in Stowmarket

Emma’s mother, Julie Parker (pictured above with Ellie Parker and Charlotte Holloway), commented: “I just love these events. All of them are special occasions in their own right, but I am particularly proud of this one, as it is being held in Emma’s old school and in her hometown. It just makes it that little bit more special.

“It is lovely seeing the little ones take part and the leaders from King Edward VI have interacted so well. The guys always organise everything so well and the children clearly have lots of fun. It is our pleasure to continue supporting Panathlon.

“It was always our aim to bring a Panathlon event to Bury and we would love to support an event in the town every year from now on.”

Julie felt the Panathlon event was a fitting tribute to her daughter, who had a passion for coaching children with disabilities and special educational needs.

“Emma played so many sports. She was one of those people who was good at everything, with her main passion being football.

“When she was at King Edward’s, she started working with the sports team and visited special-needs schools in the area. She would come home and say she wanted to help, as disabled youngsters wouldn’t have the same opportunities, but would love taking part in the activities. That was her aim.

“It was six years yesterday that Emma died, so we have gone from having a tough day yesterday to seeing so much joy on the young faces today. It has made us very proud to know that Emma’s name lives on in this way.”

Vanessa Lyons, from St Edmund's Catholic Primary, after receiving a special trophy from Julie Parker
Vanessa Lyons, from St Edmund’s Catholic Primary, after receiving a special trophy from Julie Parker

Julie nominated eight-year-old Vanessa Lyons, from St Edmund’s Catholic Primary, for a special award for the pupil who most epitomised the spirit of the Foundation.

Vanessa’s parents, Jonathan and Adriana Lyons, were watching on proudly from the sidelines.

Jonathan said: “We had not heard of Panathlon before, but we thought it sounded like a great idea. We were really enthusiastic about Vanessa attending. It helps build confidence and it is just great fun.”

Adriana added: “It sounded really interesting and perfect for Vanessa. It was a great opportunity for her to represent the school and you could tell she was really proud to do so.”

King Edward’s head teacher, Geoff Barton, observed: “Emma was a student here and I know the family have gone from an incredibly poignant day, six years after Emma died, to a Panathlon event that is so life-enhancing.

“For King Edward’s to be hosting this – and providing voluntary leaders to help run it – is very special. This will help them with leadership skills, but also working with youngsters who they perhaps may not have worked with before.”

St Gregory CEVC Primary School brought 18 children – making up three teams – to the event. They are a mainstream school and have two special support classes.

Debbie Nice, special educational needs coordinator, said: “We have been to a Panathlon event before and we always bring all our children – this is a great day out.

A pupil from the mixed Westgate Community Primary-St Edmund's Catholic Primary team“They really looked forward to the day and talked about it for days before we came here. We then use the photos from the day to show parents. To top it all off, the medals and certificates gives them a real sense of achievement.”

Trina Rankin, head of visiting Westgate Community Primary’s Hearing-Impaired Unit, added: “This is our first time here, but it is such a lovely opportunity for our hearing-impaired children.

“It really helps build their confidence and teamwork and they have been really enthusiastic about it all. I think they have also liked the sense of competition.”

The results of the West Suffolk Primary Panathlon were as follows;

1st St. Gregory’s School (and St. Edmund’s) 48 points
2nd Westgate School 47 points
3rd Chilton School 44 points
4th St. Gregory’s B team (and St. Edmund’s) 34 points
5th Riverwalk 23 points
6th St. Gregory’s C team 21 points

Another event took place the same day in Ipswich to celebrate Emma Holloway’s life, which was a football competition for children with learning difficulties. 52 children took part with the results as below.

img_00131st Felixstowe
2nd East Bergholt
3rd Priory
4th Farlingaye
5th Riverwalk
6th Thomas Wolsey



Many thanks to everyone at the Emma Holloway Foundation for your support of Panathlon in recent years.

To find out more about the Emma Holloway Foundation, go to:

Emma Holloway Foundation