By Rod Gilmour
Half of the victorious Great Britain women’s squad have now received their MBEs at Buckingham Palace. But even with the team’s Whatsapp group revealing stories from the day, it gets no less exciting for those who have yet to travel to their own investiture ceremonies, as Hannah Macleod, Shona McCallin and Lily Owsley discovered last week.
McCallin, 24, chronicled her special day on video. It started with her and Owsley walking in central London at 7am before a coffee hit, hair and make up, the obligatory stop at Marks & Spencers for last minute necessities and a taxi down the Mall.
The pair had invited their grandmothers to the formalities and Owsley remembers coming up to London to visit her and climbing on the railings to take in the Palace facade.
“I used to think one day I might get inside, thinking probably more that I might break in or something,” she told The Hockey Paper. “So to be invited in more than once is an incredible feeling.
“It was great that it was Prince Charles giving the MBEs, as he was the last of the Royals we hadn’t met yet. What an experience.”
The GB women’s team may have known their drills in Rio but when it came to the investiture, McCallin admitted to being in the dark.
She said: “When you arrive it’s always nervous. We didn’t know what to expect and we didn’t have too much information, only the start time and what to wear. So it was a learning experience and what a memorable day.”
What’s it like collecting an MBE?????
— Team GB (@TeamGB) March 21, 2017
Asking the hockey girls what was said by royalty always gives revealing answers, too. So what did Prince Charles say to the trio?
“He was asking about hockey being in the Commonwealth Games and how dangerous the sport was when he used to play, how he used to get hit round the ankles. It was interesting!” revealed Macleod.
Owsley added of her encounter: “The hockey chat was ‘so, I’ve heard it is a very physical sport’. Obviously, looking at Shona and Hannah, they had just told him that so I think he must have thought I was the brute of the side!
“He was kind of laughing saying how many hockey girls had come through. And it’s so cool thinking how many girls have come here, whereas before hockey might not have got through the gates.”
The hockey trio received their gongs alongside rowing’s Will Satch and Moe Sbihi, both fellow gold medalists from Rio.
When the duo saw the trio, Satch joked that the team “were everywhere. There is so much chat about the hockey girls!”
The rowing pair were in the crowd at Deodoro for the women’s hockey final last August, memorably dressed in tight dressing gowns from the athletes’ village.
McCallin said: “We train with these guys in and around Bisham. We didn’t realise they had come in their gowns and they had generated a lot of interest with Team GB and being such a good vocal support.
“It’s great to catch up with them and listen to their stories.”
As it is for Macleod, who has yet to officially announce her retirement from the England and GB programme.
“It’s great when we get back together from the amazing experiences we have shared and what we all went through,” said Macleod, who is coaching at St Albans and also helping out with the England women’s under-21 and development sides.
“I’m so excited about going to Tokyo to cheer and support from the sidelines. I’m an Olympic fan and you miss it when you’re in it. I took two weeks off work to watch the Beijing Games and literally screamed and cried at the television!”