Sir Hugh Robertson, Chairman of the British Olympic Association (BOA), has paid tribute to Dame Di Ellis after her family announced earlier today that she has passed away following a short illness.
Ellis was a pioneer in the British sporting landscape, most notably in forging a pathway for women in high performance sport and leadership.
Having been an international standard rower, Ellis became a renowned sports administrator and was appointed Chairman of British Rowing in 1989 and Executive Chairman in 1992, overseeing the rise to prominence of the sport in this country.
She was recognised as The Sunday Times Sportswoman Administrator of the Year and, in 2004, received a CBE for services to rowing, before in 2013 she was awarded a DBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honour's List, recognising a lifetime's commitment to sport. In addition, she became the first female steward of Henley Royal Regatta.
A Trustee of the British Olympic Foundation and the Torch Trophy Trust, Ellis was also a Life Vice President of the British Olympic Association – having first joined the BOA Board in 1997 – President of British Rowing and Vice President of the Sport & Recreation Alliance.
Speaking of the news, Sir Hugh said: “This is a sad day for the entire Olympic Movement in this country. Anyone who worked with Di would know that she was not only passionate about sport and its role in society, but driven to see greater opportunities carved out for all, especially for women in sport.
“Her family can be proud of her wonderful contribution to sport in this country and can reflect on the fact that Di enriched the lives of so many around her. She will be dearly missed, not least by her friends and colleagues on the National Olympic Committee.”
Current Chairman of British Rowing, and Vice Chair of the BOA, Annamarie Phelps CBE, added: ““Di was an incredible lady, genuine, wise, reflective and truly inspirational. Hers was truly a life to celebrate. She was a mentor and confidante to so many, always quietly shaping opinion and thinking ahead. Di will be missed across the breadth of British sport but particularly across British Rowing to which she was entirely devoted.”