British athletes recognised in 2021 Queens Birthday Honours List

Her Majesty, the Queens Birthday Honours & British Empire Medal (BEM)

Congratulations to Kiera Byland (cycling) and Chris Edwards (cricket) on being awarded the British Empire Medal for services to sport and services to learning disability cricket respectively, in the recent Queens Birthday Honours.

In recognition of their leadership qualities and going above and beyond what would normally be expected in their activities and sports, both Kiera and Chris have used their experiences and expertise to raise the profile of sport for people with intellectual impairment, highlighted the power of sport and continue to inspire the next generation of young people to become active and aspire to fulfil their sporting and other dreams.

International UKSA cyclist, Kiera Byland at the 2019 Virtus (Inas) Global Games

Kiera Byland, an accomplished multi medallist has represented Great Britain through the UK Sports Association Cycling Team, most recently at the Virtus Global Games. She returned from the Games in Australia with Gold, 4 Silver and 1 Bronze medal for track and road races.  Kiera was part of the dynamic duo with Lauren Booth, both of whom go down in Virtus (Inas) history as the first medal winners in the newly introduced track cycling events on the Global Games programme.

World Champions, Lauren Booth & Kiera Byland

At home, Kiera is part of the Mossley Cycle Racing Team and is continually working hard to give back to her sport and local community.  Kiera has made a positive impact on children in schools in Bolton through her motivational talks and coaching services. Kiera is also an active Ambassador for Special Olympics GB.

Kiera Byland said, “you do what you do because you love doing it”.


Cricket Team Captain Chris Edwards celebrating the Teams win at the 2019 Series in Australia.

Chris Edwards has an extensive and impressive cricket career. He is Captain and opening batsman for the England and Wales Learning Disability cricket team, and works as a coach for Cheshire Cricket Board.

Chris has captained the national cricket team and led the Team to gold in the Inas (now Virtus) Global Games. The team has only lost one game since 2009 under Chris’s leadership.

At home in the UK, Chris was also an active member of UKSA’s My Sport, My Voice Programme as an Ambassador and speaker advocating inclusion, aiding the general publics understanding of intellectual impairment and demonstrating the need to change the approach to people with intellectual impairment in everyday life.

Chris Edwards, with Ian Martin, Head of Disability Cricket, ECB celebrating their victory and clean sweep in Australia.

Ian Martin, Head of Disability Cricket at the ECB said  “ I am delighted that Chris has been honoured with a BEM for his significant contribution to cricket.  He has led his team to two Ashes series wins in Australia which is a significant achievement for any England cricketer and has also progressed up the ECB’s coaching pathway so that he can continue to give back to the game. 

As Captain of the England team for cricketers with an intellectual impairment he has always led by example and he is a role model for our game and for people with autism.  I have been fortunate enough to watch him grow over the years into the outstanding young man that he is today. “

Tracey McCillen, Chief Executive, UK Sports Association said “I am both proud and delighted that Chris and Kiera have been recognised for their services to sport and learning disability cricket.  Sport has the power to transcend barriers, inspire creativity and ambition and both athletes have shown this in abundance. 

They are incredible athletes on and off the field of play, have always represented Britain  well at home and on the international stage. Seeing them both  get the recognition they deserve through the Queens Honours is tremendous.  Congratulations to them both and I hope they enjoy every moment of the celebrations to come.”

The UK Sports Association is the official member of Virtus and manages directly a number of sports and GB Teams to Virtus World and European Championships.  For others, this is achieved through a collaboration with the National Governing Bodies of sport.  UKSA is the conduit to Virtus and is the organisation that manages the classification system  across all sports for athletes with intellectual impairment across the UK.  If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved as an athlete, a coach, or a volunteer, then please contact us.

You can read more about both athletes below

Chris Edwards

Kiera Byland


Published 30 June 2021