Each week we are celebrating the work of our amazing “Judo Heroes” – members who are currently working and volunteering across the country during the global Covid-19 pandemic.

There are a number of fantastic initiatives being carried out throughout Great Britain and we would like to celebrate the work of our members currently involved in these projects. Each week we will profile a range of work from our “judo heroes”.

If you know of a member who is currently working within their local community, fundraising or going above and beyond to help those isolated, please nominate them to become one of our “Judo Heroes” whereby we will profile their work.

Have a scroll through our incredible heroes to date and the work that they have been nominated for:

Vicky is a 1st kyu, Commonwealth Veterans champion from Stratford Judokwai, she is also a qualified Referee and is in the process of becoming a table official and is training to be an assistant coach. I am Vicky’s coach and I say this women is a superstar in so many ways and deserves to be acknowledged as the Judo Hero she is. She is currently a nurse working in London at St Thomas hospital on a COVID-19 ward, helping to look after elderly patients. Vicky has been working since the start of the pandemic in a number of hospitals in London even when there were major shortages of the Personal Protective Equipment required. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 she has seen a significant increase in the number of patients that do not get better and pass away but even with that emotional impact, somehow she still manages to get back up, go to work and give 100%.

Laura Plumridge of High Wycombe Judo Club and Chair of the University of Portsmouth, has been fighting hard to save lives on a daily basis

As a Cardiologist in her local hospital before Covid -19 and now she’s fighting even harder to help saves lives whilst risking her own she’s our hero!

Laura, we salute you! Keep up the great work!

Burnley Judo Club’s Quintin Reid is currently undertaking the RAF’s Hurricane 80k Challenge to mark 80 years since the Battle of Britain took place in our skies.

The Challenge consists of walking, running, jogging, swimming or biking 80k in 80 days. Beginning on 21st April, Quintin will have until the 10th July (the start of the Battle of Britain) to complete it. The Challenge is fundraising for the RAF Museum to to enable them to continue telling the story of the RAF and the thousands of service men and women who served in it.

Quintin was inspired to participate in his challenge after learning of his Great Grandad’s involvement in the Battle.

He has had loads of messages of support from across the judo community so far and with 45k completed so far, he is well on track to smash the challenge as well as topping his initial fundraising target of £80.00 (currently standing at £152.00 of money raised to date).

We are all behind you Quintin!


14 year old daughter Grace of Chalfont Judokwai, or Amazing Grace as she is more appropriately known, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain tumour in July 2018. Since her diagnosis, Grace has undergone two gruelling years of treatment and chemotherapy.

However, time is running out. Grace’s cancer is inoperable and her oncologist has said she needs specialist drugs. They are  currently waiting to see if the NHS will supply them but Grace needs this treatment now.

They really need your help! 

When Grace was first diagnosed with cancer, she said she wanted to show people not be scared of cancer, but to fight it and lead a normal life. During her treatment, Grace continues to inspire countless others with her determination, optimism and cheerfulness. From throwing herself into judo, attending air cadets and dance classes, learning to sail and to ride a horse and donating her hair to other cancer patients; despite her illness, our amazing Grace never gives up. She has also won a number of awards for her bravery.

To date, the family have raised £16,700 but are some way away from their £36,000 target so that they can get Grace treated now with Everolimus, a targeted drug which gives her the best chance to fight her cancer and live a normal life. If Everolimus is not successful a further £55,000 will be required for Dendrick Cell Vaccination.


We recently learnt of judo coach Lee Hancock’s horrific battle against a self-mutating cancer that is not responding to treatment.

Lee was found to have a BRAF V600E mutation, which means that his cancer type ‘mutates’ whenever it is attacked. Whenever they try to treat this cancer, it learns what is attacking it and mutates so you can’t stop it. The gene mutation makes his tumours resistant to chemotherapy and other treatments. Up to one in five people with certain kinds of cancer will have this mutation, which means a very high chance of mortality.

To extend Lee’s life, and therefore others, the family have been given the opportunity to access a method called CRISPR which traces faults in the genes. When these faults are found they can be switched off using targeted treatment to effectively kill off the cancer cells.

When Lee’s cancer is better understood better matches can be made for treatment. Achieving our target would fully fund crucial CRISPR sequencing and a dedicated, full time researcher at University of Birmingham. This research could lead to the answer that saves Lee from an early death.

So far the family have raised over £25,000 but the support from the judo family, we can help push them further towards their target. Click here to read more of Lee’s story.


Jack Kelly has been working on the front line as a Police Officer during the current pandemic. If working on the front line wasn’t enough, Jack has had to deal with the death of his dad another judo hero, Paul NED Kelly.

Long Eaton’s David Hawkins has been working on the front-line as a PC in his local Nottinghamshire Police Force.

David is a British Judo Level 2 coach in his spare time.

Kevin O’Reilly has a lot to thank the NHS for over the years following successful recoveries from the likes of cancer, pneumonia and a road accident when he was younger.

It was last year during his fight against pneumonia that that he was unable to join his work colleagues in climbing Mount Snowdon, North Wales, for charity. Therefore he decided to cover that distance this year by climbing the the equivalent height of 1,085m by going up and down the stairs (271 times to be exact!) at home during the lockdown last Sunday.

Kevin completed the challenge in just short of 1 hour, 55 mins, which is a fantastic achievement in itself, but together with SMASHING his fundraising target of £500.00 – currently standing at £1,285 at time of writing – he is the epitome of a “Judo Hero” this week!

Kevin’s JustGiving page is still open if you would like to donate to his challenge at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kevin-o-reilly18

Jennie Alltoft, from Grimsby Judo Club, has been hard at work during the lockdown and putting his skills to the test to help her local NHS services.

Along with her niece Beth they have decided to make scrubs for hospitals at home during this tough time for the world. The scrubs that they are making are being shipped over to Scunthorpe General hospital to help with the battle against COVID 19. Jennie has always maintained the importance of the “judo family” and this is a major driving force behind this huge act of kindness.

Jennie has been ever-present at Grimsby Judo Club over the past 40 years and has helped keep the club together at times of need.

A hero if we ever saw one!

A popular British Judo referee in her spare time, Judy Maslen has been continuing to work as a Paramedic on the front line of the South West Ambulance Service despite Covid-19.

A Development Officer within the BJA, Dermot was encouraged by the Association and Sport England to continue working from home. When York City Council appealed for volunteers in his local area, Dermot showed no hesitation in offering his service.

“The Senior Management of the British Judo have actively encouraged all staff to offer their services as volunteers regardless of whether they have been ‘Furloughed’ or working full time from home” Heslop explained.

‘Taking this into consideration it was an easy decision to volunteer for York City Council to help those who are vulnerable in my local area’. 

An essential part of their front line week day team, he can be found their most days dropping off emergency food parcels to those most in need, picking up prescriptions, completing welfare checks and shopping for those who are isolating at home.

Acomb Community Hub Manager Rachel Shield was full of praise for Dermot: “He has been an absolute star – always willing to pop in to help someone out event at short notice. We would be lost without him!”

IJF Hall of Famer Dr Karen Briggs and her family have been supporting elderly and vulnerable people in East Yorkshire during the coronavirus pandemic before delivering over 100 Easter eggs door to door over the Easter weekend.

Dr Briggs has been helping out fellow residents in Paull with husband Peter Inman, daughter Jade and son Harry.

Mr Inman said the kind gestures had been started by Jade, who distributed notes to people in the village offering help with shopping, dog-walking or even just some company.

She has had many calls and has been delivering groceries and fish chips on a regular basis, especially on Good Friday,” he said.

It is nice to see the younger generation of the village getting involved to help people in need during the horrendous times of the pandemic, which has affected everybody.

Jade, who was born in Paull, even received a letter of thanks from local MP Graham Stuart for her work.

It was then that the family had the idea to deliver over 100 Easter eggs to the other village residents with a note saying: “We hope this brings a smile to your day.

England Judo athlete Harry La Mare, his brother Jack La Mare and Father Noah Le Mare were inspired from watching the Barkley Marathon documentary (The Barkley Marathon is an 100+ mile run in America – available to watch on Amazon Prime) recently and as a last minute decision, decided upon their crazy challenge – with no training – running 50km in 24 hours! There was no prior planning involved!

The plan initially was for Harry and Jack to complete the challenge in memory of Chris Allen and in support of all of the heroes of the NHS. They wanted to do something to help in any way possible. Inspired by his son’s completing the challenge on 16th April, Father Noah then completed his own version of the challenge the following day.

Harry, 17, finished the run with no training, in six and a half hours. ⁣⁣⁣He started at midnight, then had a break and slept at 4:00am. He started up again at 9:30am. Once Harry finished his 50km, he also went and helped his brother for the last 8 km of his challenge, who crossed the finish line after eleven and a half hours.

The family have smashed their initial fundraising target of £1,800 but that shouldn’t stop you from supporting their challenge.

You can donate now to support the La Mare family for their challenge at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/50kmin24hours

Barnet Judo Club’s Chris Grilli and his family have turned their living room in to a 24 hour 3D printing operation.

They are producing some 900 visors a week that are being donated to local hospitals on a regular basis. As well as Chris (who teaches the primary class at Barnet Judo Club) and the whole family, Riki Urquhart and Aga Laskowska have been involved with helping put together and deliver masks. Producing the masks has been described like having a baby all over again, being woken every 2 hours to change the reels on the printers.

Their story was recently featured on Channel 4 News and can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gz4MS6v-7gs

You can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/emily-grilli

Chris works for Nissan and after approaching them has managed to get the Sunderland plant to help with producing up to 56,000 visors a week. Once the visors are no longer needed, the printers purchased with donations will be donated to local secondary schools.

Rheigan is a valued member of Castle Douglas Judo Club, who has volunteered within the club for many years, and is on the club committee, despite being just 21 years old.

Rheigan qualified as a nurse last year (as well as getting her 1st Dan), and started work in an A&E department in Carlisle in September 2019. Rheigan has been on the frontline in the hospital treating patients who come into the hospital with Covid-19, which would be daunting for most nurses, never mind one at the start of her career.

This has led to her moving out of her family home, staying in a hotel by herself for over 3 weeks to keep her family safe during this time. Rheigan had to take some time off work with suspected Covid-19 symptoms, but was back working in the hospital as soon as she was cleared to do so, and states she is just doing her job, always playing down the role she is performing in helping to save lives.

Amber Barrie 1st Dan was an active and competitive under 70Kg Judoka, she represented the NW Area in the National team championships last year and trained regularly at both Manchester and Sandbach Judo Club’s.

However, a niggling injury led her down an unexpected path just prior to the Covi 19 lockdown and she ended up under the surgeon’s knife. Her rehabilitation was on track as the nation went into this awful period of uncertainty but she has been supporting the community whilst also working and keeping up the fitness training for a full return to competitive Judo after undergoing major hip surgery only 10 weeks ago.

In addition to her day job, she has been taken on to support the production and delivery of PPE equipment for the NHS fitting this in around her structured rehabilitation and fitness regime. Most Judoka cannot wait for this all to be over and get back on the mat – for Amber this desire is compounded by the fact that the injury, hospitalisation and operation have extended her Judo drought for even longer.

Early indications from training in her garden show that both the hip and her Uchi-komi are coming on a treat and she vows to be back better than ever