Eleanor Walsh said she was amazed to be included in the King's Birthday Honours list recently.

She would have been the only one because in her hometown of Cockermouth, around Cumbria and even around the world, there are swimmers whose only question is why has it taken so long to receive the British Empire Medal.

Eleanor has been a coach at the Cockermouth Swimming Club since it opened in 1979. In fact, she ran her first coaching session on the very day the pool opened for the first time.

"Cockermouth SC means everything to me. I started it and built it up. It is my life."

In her time she has coached around 15 international swimmers including Olympic Gold Medalist Luke Greenbank and the winner of four Invictus Games Gold Medals, Luke Reeson.

Eleanor's swimming career began at the age of six when the family moved to Carlisle from Ireland. She represented Ireland on several occasions.

An accident that has left her in a wheelchair and constant pain has done nothing to stop Eleanor.

Earlier this year, she had another accident which has affected the use of one arm.

"I am no longer able to drive but that doesn't stop me from coaching. I can always find someone to give me a ride to the pool."

She was honoured and amazed to receive the BEM for doing something she loves.

She says, quite simply, that the Cockermouth Swimming Club and her coaching are her life. "I love it."

She coaches both children and adults and loves to watch their progress. In fact the young ones are "my kids" and she is always available for them whether in the pool or out.

This is not her first award, either. She was given a long service award by Swim England and a community award from Cockermouth Town Council for her efforts for the town.

On receiving the BEM she paid tribute to the people who had influenced her in swimming but also to her family.

Her influencers along the way were Hammy Smith and Helen Elkington in her early days and then John Atkinson and Fred Furniss while at Cockermouth.

Her son and daughter both live in the United States and she visits regularly.

She said he late husband David, was given an inkling of what married life would be like when she gave him a stopwatch as a wedding present!

She said he had always supported her and had become quite fond of his role as a swim meet official and helping in any other way he could.