OUR happy head coach Nikki Thorne has every reason to be celebrating this Christmas, after following in her father’s footsteps by achieving the same elite accolade from our sport’s official governing body.

She was presented with the British Gymnastics’ Master Coach Honorary Award during the recent British Open Acrobatic Tournament at Stoke’s Fenton Manor, in which 12 King Eddies members took part.

Back in 1998 Nikki’s dad Tony Wills, a highly-successful founder member and coach of King Eddies as many of you know, became one of a select band of coaches to be granted the award, while in 2010 Nikki’s daughter Maiken Thorne, and her competition partner Mollie Grehan, were proud recipients of British Gymnastics’ Master Gymnast hand-outs.

Delighted Nikki was presented with a medal and certificate for her “devoted and praiseworthy service to the association” during a dinner break on the Sunday of the weekend-long British Open event. The award was in recognition of the many successes she has attained over two decades as a local South Gloucestershire and Great Britain coach.

She said: “It’s a real honour to win such a prestigious award. I’m very fortunate to join a small and elite group of coaches, including my dad, who have contributed to the various different gymnastic disciplines under the auspices of British Gymnastics, including the acrobatic and tumbling side of the sport which we at King Edmund focus on.

“The award is also testament to the wonderful staff and fantastic kids I’ve had the privilege of working with down the years, and it’s lovely too that both my dad and eldest daughter have previously received similar awards for their contributions to the coaching and performing side of gymnastics.”

Meanwhile while Nikki was the proud recipient of her coaching distinction, her youngest daughter, Shanie-Redd Thorne, was busy claiming her first British title as a fully-fledged senior alongside dependable partner Danielle Jones in the women’s pairs class at Fenton Manor.

King Edmund club-mates Beth Foster and Courtney Hodge, who are attempting to emulate the many achievements of Shanie-Redd and Danielle during the star duo’s junior career, picked up bronze medals in the junior women’s pairs, while Shannon McClurg, Tianna McClurg and Jess Howard finished just outside the medals after battling their way through a tough 11-16 women’s section, containing 26 fellow threesomes, to reach the final.

In the same category Emma Cornick, Nadia Cocking and Emily Brown were disappointed to miss out on a final place but the 11-16 men’s pairing of Robert Bates and Tyler Kelly demonstrated “good potential” by claiming fourth spot in a highly competitive group.

The tournament as a whole was dominated by the London-based Heathrow club, which is home, of course, to famous Britain’s Got Talent acrobatic performers Spelbound.